Getting the word out on Hunter CS in 2020
As we move through Fall, I'm missing one of the most draining but at the same time one of my favorite parts of the year. School recruiting visits.
When I came to Hunter, I started the Daedalus CS Honors program. We started small but now, each year, we take in about fifty students, give them a laptop and a scholarship and all sorts of extras and bring them in for a great CS education at a fraction of the cost of say NYU or Columbia. It is without a doubt the best value CS education, I'd say, maybe anywhere. The trouble is, we're still not that well known - reputations in the school game take decades to establish and as Hunter is still mostly known as a liberal arts / nursing school getting the word out and building trust with students and teachers can be a chore.
For the past four years I've spent the Fall visiting schools. Pretty much anyone who'd have me as long as they have students who could be interested in CS. I'd trek out in the early morning on the subway to all manner of neighborhoods and talk to students. I'd hate the early morning travel and the long subway rides but whenever I'd get somewhere I would stroll around a new or different neighborhood. Afterwards, on my way back I could stop at local shops. The challenge became finding some local food seller, usually a bakery and get something that you can't get in Chelsea or the Upper Easts Side. I'd also get to visit all manner of schools - many built under the WPA and many with walls of fame and other interesting architecture, features and history.
Of course, the real highlight was talking to students, teachers, guidance counselors. Sometimes, I'd address an entire senior class - this is my favorite format - I get to talk to the CS and the non CS students - makes for a much better diversity push. That was usually followed by small group discussions with interested students. I'd also sometimes talk with one or more individual classes. Some visits though get a bit crazy like visiting large schools with large CS programs where I'm bouncing from class to class all day.
I've been told that my talks have been valuable - while I talk about Daedalus and Hunter at the end, the talk is really about questions you should ask when considering a college and considering a major with an emphasis on CS. My theory is that I'm not trying to con anyone into coming to Hunter. I've built a great program and Hunter / Hunter CS is strong and affordable. I want to help the right fit students come to that realization.
Of course, now I can't do school visits so what to do? Zoom visits? I don't think I'll come across as well but probably better than nothing. In school? Should I set up evening sessions?
I'm not skilled at making fancy video presentations and I don't have the charisma to just make a simple video that'll have the desired effect so I'm really struggling with this.
So, any ideas out there?
What's the best way for me to connect with good fits for Hunter CS?