Student Recruitment

By Em Gunter

The long-term future of your quizbowl team depends largely on outreach and recruitment. This article describes how teams, especially new and developing teams, can recruit team members. These methods include recognition, building school support, figuring out what does and does not work, and it also includes a few ideas to assist you with improving your team.

One of the most important factors in outreach is making sure that students in your school actually know you exist, lest your club becomes forgotten. Take a moment to think about how many club photos you saw when you flipped through your high school yearbook of organizations you had never heard of before. Don’t let your quizbowl team become one of these organizations!

How do you make sure people know that your club exists? Talk about it! Tell your friends about the team and ask your teammates to tell their friends about it. Getting the word around that you exist will naturally lead to more interest. Additionally, if your school uses social media like Twitter or Facebook try to take advantage of that to promote your team. Many schools will retweet or share posts related to student athletics, clubs, and other activities. If your school does this, post material about your team and competitions to help get the word out there.  If your school has an Activities or Communications department, consider reaching out to them as well to promote your quizbowl club. Getting recognized by your school on their social media pages provides legitimacy to your organization as well as sharing the existence of your club to more people.

It is very important to take full advantage of the internet to help recruit students as well as keeping them informed about the on-goings of your club. The internet enables students to choose their level of involvement with your club, while also giving them many different study opportunities. Here are some internet tools you can use:

Google Classroom, Canvas, Moodle, or Blackboard: At many schools, one of these programs or something similar is used on a daily basis by students and teachers. You may be able to create quizbowl as a class, and allow anyone to join. This allows you to provide resources, share files, and post calendars. In some cases, students can sync the team calendar to their personal calendars.

Remind: Remind is a bulk text messaging service that allows class “owners” to send mass text messages out to all members that have joined the class. This service is useful to communicate practice times, cancellations, tournament information, and other information that is short and sweet.

Anki: This is an online flashcard program that makes it easier for individuals to study if flashcarding is a method that works for them. Users can create an Anki account that can sync across platforms. You can make new flashcards on your desktop and then use the web app, mobile app, or desktop app to study. Note: Anki for iOS is not free, but the web version at works in Safari.

Quizbowl Packet Archive: Expansive database with almost every non-NAQT set.

QBReader: Allows students to play against each other or themselves. This program pulls questions from the Quizbowl Packet Archive.

QBReader Database: Online question database with many sets. Allows you to sort by category, sub-category, and difficulty.

In addition to the above outlined methods, there are also many recruitment methods that do not utilize the internet. Remember that different methods will have varying levels of efficacy with different students, so using a variety of approaches is often wise.

Recruitment Meetings: Consider hosting an interest meeting at the beginning and end of each school year to get kids interested in the upcoming season. Explain to students what quizbowl is and allow students to ask questions. If time permits, read a novice packet so students can gain some experience on the buzzer, and hopefully answer their first question. To publicize your meeting, use the various internet tools mentioned above, as well as the analog tools mentioned below. If your school has an activity fair, be sure to participate in that in addition to an interest meeting.

Personal letters to students: Individual letters to students based on teacher or peer recommendation tend to be the most effective. Speak to your school’s freshman and sophomore level teachers and ask them to give you a list of students they believe will be a good fit for your team. When soliciting recommendation, remember to tell teachers what quizbowl is. Tell teachers that quizbowl is a game that values academic knowledge and that your club is looking for students who enjoy learning new things and the pursuit of knowledge.  Once you have a list of names, write a personalized letter to each student, inviting them to your informational meeting. An example letter is included below, but write your own letters based on the needs of your team. The week before your information meeting, remember to distribute these letters to those students’ teachers. 

Dear [Name]

The [Your High School Academic Team] would like to invite you to attend an informational meeting on [Date and Time]. You were brought to our attention by one of your current teachers who believes that you would be a good fit for our team. We are affiliated with the [Insert your local league if applicable], and we compete in various tournaments throughout the year on weeknights as well as some weekends. Our team plays quizbowl: a game where two teams compete in a head to head competition to answer questions from all areas of knowledge–including history, literature, science, fine arts, current events, popular culture, sports, and more. Players use buzzers, similar to those seen on Jeopardy! to ring in and answer questions before the other team to earn points. This is an extremely fun and fast-paced game, and many of our current and former players have found great joy from playing quizbowl for [Your High School]. Any questions about joining the team should be directed towards [Team Sponsor] in person or by email at [Sponsor’s email address]. We are very excited for you to join our team, and we hope that you will be coming to our informational meeting.

[Your High School] Academic Team

In- Class Recruitment: Encourage freshmen and sophomore teachers to mention quizbowl in their classes. Encourage teachers to direct any students questions about the team to either the coach or Club President. This is one of the more effective methods as students are hearing this in a more directed setting that is harder to tune out. 

Posters: If your school has a bulletin board for student organizations, make sure that you include information about your club on that platform. Additionally, if you have permission to do so, hang up posters advertising your club throughout different areas of your school. Do not expect significant results from posters as they are likely to be ignored or vandalized. Posters have minimal efficacy, so it is best to implement them in conjunction with other methods. 

Announcements on PA system: Announcements on the school PA system are one of the most generic ways to disseminate information. It is oftentimes an appealing method because you are able to speak to the entire school at once, however, many students actively ignore or can not hear morning announcements.  An announcement on your school’s PA system can be helpful, but as with posters, don’t expect significant results. Always use a PA system announcement in conjunction with other methods.

We hope that these ideas can help you with outreach and recruitment. Keep in mind that it often helps to talk to other teams in your area to find out what methods have worked for them. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to other quizbowlers on the Quizbowl Resource Center forums.