3 Esports Recruitment Strategies and Why They Worked for These Colleges


Marketing an esports program is not an easy task. It’s important for higher education institutions to know what students are looking for, why they might choose one school over another, and how IT professionals can work with internal stakeholders to invest in programs that support recruitment. A strong esports program can become an effective marketing tool for colleges and universities, but only with thoughtful planning.

Doug Konopelko, CDW•G Education Strategist, shares common mistakes higher education institutions make in esports programs and how some schools have avoided these pitfalls.

Boost recruitment with Savvy Esports Marketing

Networking capabilities, fast processors, and high-quality graphics cards are all huge selling points for any esports program. What’s most exciting about esports programs are the things you can’t necessarily see. But when it comes to recruiting, it’s all about the lens.

Prospective students want to see esports arenas adorned with flashy LED lights, school branding and colors. A generic, repurposed computer lab under fluorescent lights won’t do, even if all the technology is there. First impressions are everything, and students need a visual indicator that the university they are considering is investing in the overall look of their esports program, in addition to technology.

Integrating esports into the university community

An esports program that is integrated with the wider school community – whether academically or as a student organization – is another selling point for prospective students. A strong esports program can be a gateway to a myriad of technologies and creative careers. That’s why Sari Kitelyn, director of esports and project development at Full Sail University in Florida, has tied esports closely to college curricula. In addition to university programs in game design, other fields of study, such as animation, use the game systems of the esports program for the best possible learning experience.

A growing number of higher education institutions are integrating esports directly into the curriculum by offering majors, minors, concentrations, and certificates. For example, Florida Southern College’s Department of Business Administration added a minor in esports management, as well as an esports management concentration to its MBA program.

A strong student esports organization can also provide opportunities for professional development and foster a sense of connection to the larger campus community. At the University of Oklahoma, the esports curriculum is designed to simulate a professional esports organization, providing students with marketable skills beyond the arena.

Publicizing these added benefits will demonstrate the value of esports as a viable field of study and a professionally rewarding extracurricular activity.

Ensure an authentic experience for players on campus

Understanding the culture of the institution and the goals surrounding the esports program can help shape the outcome. Authenticity is everything to a well-rounded program, says Karen Ruggles, associate professor of computer science and esports program director at DeSales University. In addition to a dedicated gaming arena with graphics processing units and gaming peripherals, students must also feel the institution’s genuine interest and passion for gaming. If a university is offering esports solely to increase registrations – and because everyone is doing it – then future students will get used to it.

Ultimately, every student craves community, tuition value, and a transformative undergraduate experience. Ensuring authenticity and a well-rounded program requires cross-departmental collaboration, which can mean building relationships with new stakeholders.

Looking to recruit with Esports?

Whether it’s finding academic opportunities or integrating a program into the larger university community, a partner like CDW•G through OMNIA Partners can help university stakeholders understand and shape their goals for an esports program, select technologies to best achieve those goals, and develop a cost-cutting approach to purchasing esports – ultimately positioning esports as a valuable recruiting tool for colleges and universities.

Check out CDW-G’s full suite of esports solution resources here!

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This article in its original form was published on the EdTech: Focus on Higher Education Academic Blog Series.

Doug Konopelko is currently Education Strategist for CDW•G. During his school career, he has served in urban and suburban school districts as a teacher, team leader, adjunct faculty member, education technology consultant, high school vice-principal, district administrator school and head of organization of public education.

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