High-pressure recruitment tactics

Recruitment Red Flags
High-pressure Recruitment Tactics Can Be Harmful

The Center for Student Involvement oversees more than 800+ registered student organizations. Some of these organizations and events are affiliated with outside groups, and while the vast majority of groups may be helpful and beneficial to you, some may use high-pressure tactics to recruit students.

The information below can help you identify when those tactics can possibly be problematic and make an informed, free choice about associating with such groups.

Why can high-pressure recruiting tactics be so harmful?
  • They tend to isolate you from family, friends, and other groups.
  • They may ask you to give up control of your thoughts or decisions.
  • They may focus on guilt and shame.
  • They may promote crises with school, your career, or your social life.
Not sure if an rso is using high-pressure recruitment tactics? ask yourself the following questions:
Does the group or its representatives:
  • Speak in a derogatory way about your past beliefs or values?
  • Label your doubts and questions as signs of a weakness in your beliefs or values?
  • Describe your parents as unable to understand or help you with your beliefs or values?
  • Invite you on a retreat but can’t (or won’t) give you an overview of the purpose or activities before you go?
  • Insist that you spend so much time with them that you can’t get your studying done or you don’t have time for your other friends and activities?
  • Pressure you to get others involved in the group?
  • Discourage you from keeping in touch with your family and friends or not allow you to talk to your friends or your family alone?
  • Deflect questions you ask about their group and tell you they’ll answer your questions later?
  • Claim to have the answers to your problems and that you can’t find answers anywhere else?
  • Pressure you to give them money?

Answering “yes” to one or two questions doesn’t mean that a group is destructive or harmful, but it does mean you should proceed slowly and cautiously and investigate the group more carefully. If you have concerns or questions about a group you are involved with, there are resources available.

Think you’re experiencing high-pressure recruitment tactics?

Reach out to the Center for Student Involvement! Speak to someone in our team about your concerns by sending an e-mail to Get Involved.

How To Identify Red Flags of Membership