One of the reasons I enjoy working on campus is that I still think like a college student. The upside is that I am laid-back and like to hang out; but this comes with a downside – I have a tendency to procrastinate. Like most college students, I tend to push important work off until the last minute, have a minor freak-out, stress, and then stay up for three days straight drinking excessive amounts of coffee until I finish whatever it was that I needed to do.
Unfortunately, the school year is only about thirteen weeks long – punctuated with breaks, exams, and study periods. If you wait until the last minute to begin planning and recruiting for your programs, you will miss the boat and only get a handful of people to sign up.
Start early, set deadlines way in advance, and train yourself to live within your early/artificial timetable.
I begin planning months ahead of time – for winter programs I start looking for flights in March and for summer programs I start in September. (A travel agent once told me that the secret number when booking flights is 300. Airlines release their schedules 300 days in advance – if you start looking for flights at this time you will get the dates and times you want, often at the best price). I then set my launch dates for recruitment months in advance. For example, for a winter program I will begin recruiting at the beginning of July and for the summer I start December 1. Psychologically, I have my minor freak-out in June or November and run around like a madman building my website, making sure my online application works, printing up fliers, setting up a Facebook group, and doing whatever else it is I need to do. Then I launch my campaign on time – I got it all done and I am still six-eight weeks before the semester starts. (My stress level in June or November is no different then if I were to wait until September or mid-January – the difference is that when I actually launch I am still way ahead of the game).
In spite of the stereotype about lazy students (that I mentioned above), there are plenty of students (especially those at top universities) who plan out their lives in advance. If you start your recruiting far enough ahead of time, you will walk into a new semester with enough students to interview to fill half your program. You can set a target date for six weeks into the semester to close up recruitment and by two months in already have your program filled.
Or you can wait.