Constructing Access to Highly-Selective Business-Related College Student Organizations

Kline Armentrout, Sally, Higher Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Inkelas, Karen, ED-EDLF Department, University of Virginia

Professional student organizations, namely business-related student clubs, can play a prominent role in the higher education-to-career pipeline. This qualitative comparative case study examined how two highly-selective business-related student organizations, selecting fewer than 10% of their applicant pools, at a highly ranked Mid-Atlantic public research university construct access to membership through recruitment and selection processes. Similarities and differences between the Campus Investment Organization and the Student Investment Club were documented, along with several connections with Bourdieu’s (1986) cycle of capital. Through interviews with ten upper-level student members, document analysis, and recruitment event observations, this study identified that organizations employed comparable membership recruitment strategies to promote applications and systematically evaluate candidates through membership selection processes. Study findings shed light on perceived applicant motivations to pursue membership, how organizations promoted opportunities to develop social and cultural capital through membership, how student leaders sought out demonstrations of capital through membership selection processes, perceived similarities with corporate hiring processes, and bias pitfalls in student-led membership recruitment and selection efforts. Eight recommendations for practice include, but are not limited to, disentangling club membership from business school admission, encouraging business-related student organizations to promote career services resources, curating business and career-related learning opportunities, and encouraging equitable recruitment and selection processes.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
student organizations, business clubs, new member recruitment, membership selection, highly-selective organizations, equitable selection processes, cultural capital, social capital, higher education-to-career pipeline, bias pitfalls
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