Given the cohort-based nature of IMAGE, it is important to identify which specific groups of students to target. The program works best with groups of students with a strong sense of connection (residence hall floors, first year experience classes, Greek Life groups) so that students receive feedback about not only the norms of the campus at large, but also about students to whom they feel connected and similar. UH Wellness has targeted traditionally higher-risk groups (including Greek Life fraternities and sororities, student athletes, and first year residential floors) to implement the intervention to date. However, each campus will need to decide (probably based upon the campus needs assessment) which cohorts to choose. For example, some campuses may want to focus solely on one group, such as student athletes. Another may want to focus solely on incoming freshmen seen during orientation or during First Year Experience classes).
In order to move forward with recruitment efforts, the respective points of contact need to be established. However, the most obvious point of contact for any given group may not actually be the most effective person in securing participation. Whether you take a top-down approach (in which you seek support from professional staff in recruitment efforts) or a bottom-up approach (in which you work with the students themselves directly) will vary depending on the nature of each cohort and your campus.
When recruiting, be aware that motivating factors for any given group’s participation will also vary. For instance, student athletic teams are generally invested in their ability to perform successfully and to remain eligible, while student organizations are often concerned about academic success and/or eligibility, as many have GPA requirements for membership. Frequently, Resident Assistants have programming requirements that IMAGE can address, while many Greek Life groups can receive lower insurance rates because IMAGE addresses risk management issues. Taking the time to get to know each type of cohort can result in discovering how to best recruit on your campus.
Another aspect that will ease recruitment efforts is securing the support of higher administration. Just as each cohort is a bit different in terms of motivation, so is each administration. Many administrators are invested in implementing best practices (such as Model programs like IMAGE), while others are more concerned about possible litigation in the event of an alcohol-related death. Compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act can increase support for the program, as well as the potential for increased retention of students who change their alcohol-use behavior.
The key to successful recruitment efforts, regardless of the approach, is to network and strengthen relationships across the campus community, particularly with the students themselves. Once IMAGE is accepted by students, they will become your biggest asset in recruitment.