Understanding engineering students for better recruitment strategies: A four-year study

Mary R. Anderson-Rowland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Engineering enrollments are declining. Interest in engineering is near a 20-year low among entering college freshmen. At the same time, the demand for engineering in the U.S. is great, with foreign national students being brought to our country to help fill the gap. The situation calls for increased efforts in recruitment and retention. Since many university budgets are shrinking, accountability is expected for all invested funds, including those used for recruitment and retention. To better allocate resources to recruitment and retention efforts, a pilot survey was first administered to engineering freshman at ASU in the fall of 1994. This survey was refined and continued for an additional four years. Evaluations of the surveys in the first few years revealed some surprises. In the first survey, the primary reasons for attending ASU for an engineering degree was similar for both women and men: a good engineering school, close to home, and good weather. Surprising results, obtained from early surveys, showed that over fifty percent of the junior college transfers only decided on engineering after they attended college. Contrary to expectations, the data also showed that for underrepresented minority engineering students, it made no difference if they took the Introduction to Engineering class in their first or second semester. In this paper, we look at the freshman engineering class longitudinally with four years of data. The paper will examine if there have been any changes in recruitment and retention efforts during the last four years in response to information learned through the early surveys. Additionally, this study will look at student patterns over the past four years for choosing engineering and ASU. The paper will also compare the percentage of transfer students, who decided on engineering only after they attended college. The paper will conclude with action items that should enhance recruitment and retention effectiveness based on the trend data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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