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Guidance on Involving Current Graduate Students in Recruitment, Admissions, and Retention Efforts

November 24, 2020

The Graduate School currently does not have policy or guidance on whether and to what extent current graduate students can be involved in graduate admissions. We have learned that some programs involve current graduate students in their admissions process whereas others do not. At the request of the Council of Associate Deans of Graduate Education (CADGE), the Graduate School prepared draft guidance in collaboration with the Graduate Council (approved November 24, 2020).

Current graduate students can be some of the best liaisons for prospective graduate students. The Graduate School encourages involving graduate students in recruitment and retention of new students. At the same time, prospective students are applying to work with and be mentored by members of the Graduate Faculty. Accordingly, it is imperative that graduate faculty lead recruitment, admissions, and retention efforts.

Below, we outline the Graduate School's recommendations for how to consider including current graduate students in the admissions process as well as in retention efforts. Examples are provided, but the examples are not exhaustive of all the ways graduate students can be involved.

Outreach and Recruitment

  • The Graduate School supports the involvement of current graduate students in helping recruit diverse applicants as long as those duties do not take away from the student’s primary role as a student any related responsibilities (e.g., lab work, teaching, research).

  • Current graduate students, along with graduate faculty, often represent programs at recruitment events.

  • Units could invite graduate students to be involved in informal and/or formal interviews with prospective students.

  • Graduate students may serve as admissions liaisons and be identified on programs’ websites as contacts for prospective students. If admissions liaisons commit substantial hours to recruitment, programs should consider providing financial support for liaisons’ work.

  • Graduate students may help graduate faculty proactively reach out to prospective students, such as contacting relevant student groups at minority-serving institutions.

  • Graduate students may assist with organizing and participating in open houses and other events for admitted students. If graduate students commit substantial hours to events, programs should consider providing financial support for the students’ work.

Review of Applications

  • The Graduate School recommends against involving current students in reviewing prospective students’ applications, with the exception noted below. It is our expectation that members of the Graduate Faculty primarily review applications based on their professional experience, judgment, and clear admissions criteria. Graduate Faculty engaged in application review will be subject to the same privacy, confidentiality, and ethical standards as any employee participating in the admissions process.  

  • Graduate students employed as administrative assistants for the purpose of assisting in the admissions process can support admissions, and are subject to the confidentiality and data privacy rules that apply to faculty and staff. Graduate students not employed in a support role must execute a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that would be reviewed by General Counsel.

Guidance on Graduate Admissions Practices

  • Graduate faculty involved in admissions should be aware of their own potential for biases and openly share these biases when discussing potential applications for admissions. For example, a faculty member may give a stronger recommendation for admission for a student from their alma mater or county of origin than for an applicant from another undergraduate institution or country. 

  • Importantly, admissions decisions should never be made solely on the basis of scores. Hundreds of studies and the Graduate School’s own internal analysis clearly indicate that GRE scores and GPAs are not good predictors of success in graduate school beyond the first semester.1 Instead, graduate programs should enact holistic review processes.2


  • The Graduate School encourages units to involve graduate students in the retention of their peers. Retention efforts can include:

  • Graduate students serving as peer mentors, which can help new students successfully transition into their graduate studies at the University of Maryland. If peer mentors commit substantial hours to retention, programs should consider providing financial support for this work.

  • Graduate students can be invited to serve on advisory boards for unit heads, be active in Graduate Student Government, serve on the Graduate Council, and in other capacities to help administrators understand how to best support current students. 

  • After graduation, former graduate students should be invited to serve on alumni advisory committees, job search panels, guest lecture in classes, and sponsor fellowships or internships.


1 See, for example, Beyond the GRE, this meta-analysis, this multi-institutional study, this annotated bibliography, and this article.

2 For more on holistic review in graduate admissions see, for example, this report by the Council of Graduate Schools and this guidance by the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. Literature on holistic reviews is posted here. To access this literature, contact Anna De Cheke Qualls, who leads the UMD Graduate School’s Inclusive Graduate Education Working Group.

Contact Information

The Graduate School
University of Maryland

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College Park, MD 20742