Attracting Top Students


November 1, 2013

By Janna Pea

When Dee McGraw began college at the University of Alabama years ago, she never envisioned actually working for the University post graduation. While working at the Capstone, McGraw met her fiancé at a football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“When Alabama football is involved, you know it is fate, right?” said McGraw, who is now the University’s new regional recruiter for New York City, Long Island and the state of Connecticut.

In her new role, McGraw is able to stay directly connected to the University by sharing her experiences with prospective students in this region while recruiting them to attend Alabama.  

“The most exciting thing for me since I’ve started this position is the emails I get from students on a daily basis. They tell me they are even more excited to visit UA or even attend after they have spoken to me,” said McGraw.  “I love that! I’m a Tuscaloosa native, a UA grad and a long way from home. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than talking about something I love so much, and that is the University of Alabama.”

So how does the Capstone stand out from dozens of other tables in a crowded career-day auditorium? As in football, there’s power in rankings. The public relations program has ranked as a top-five finalist for PRWeek magazine’s Education Program of the Year for five straight years. Culverhouse’s Management Information Systems program was ranked 16th in the nation by BusinessWeek. The entire university ranks 32 in US News & World Report’s rankings for public schools (and yes, Auburn was 37).

“At Alabama, we embrace diversity and welcome opportunities to show the rest of the country that we are not the same university today as we once were years prior. Over 50 percent of our freshmen class came from out-of-state last year,” said McGraw.

While attracting many “out of towners” is a great accomplishment, there is still the challenge of overcoming the distance and out-of-state tuition.

“Many students fall in love with idea of going to Alabama, but unfortunately cannot afford the cost of going to an out-of-state institution,” said McGraw. “Also, there is a great Ivy League presence in the Northeast, and it takes time for students and parents to realize there are other colleges out there like Alabama where you can still get a wonderful education.”

In regards to what alumni in the New York City, Long Island and Connecticut area can do to assist recruitment, we all know how important it is for prospective students to hear from alumni about their college experiences.

“Alabama alums are always so passionate about their alma mater, so it’s wonderful to have the students see that passion in someone else besides the recruiter.”

 When asked about new initiatives McGraw intends to bring to her new role, she quickly suggested the alumni chapter become more involved in the annual recruiting receptions along with other activities.

“It would be nice to have our Greater New York Chapter host an event for prospective students and parents. Students really need to see how much support we get from alums.”