+1 (978) 744-8828 Email Us  

Recruiting Intelligence

A Memo to our College President on How to Recruit International Students


This year, we have been asked to recruit 10% more international students to internationalize our campus and to raise the necessary tuition revenue. Yes, we understand the financial pressures that we are under as a college and greater international student enrollment can be part of our long-term viability as we have been tracking a trend of weaker demographics in our typical domestic recruitment region. In talking to prospective domestic students and their parents, I know the pressure our higher tuition bills put on families.

I love what we accomplish as a college. We may not belong to the elite group of colleges, but I know we do change lives. More precisely, our professors, academic and other advisors, counselors, and fellow students change lives.

So, considering our goal of a 10% increase in international student enrollment....  Last year we traveled more internationally, attending college fairs and talking to more students. Still, our yield declined. We can see the competition is tough and the reality is that currently, our brand is not well known. 

Our peer institutions are using more commission-based recruiters who help them with in-country marketing, counseling and follow up. I am not saying that we have to do the same. Yet, we have to adapt to this competitive environment. We have to pull together as a college and mobilize our campus to show the value of our education. As Albert Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Here's what I think we should do differently to achieve our goal: 

  • We ask that you help us to create a culture of pride to represent our college. As admission officers, it is our role to represent our college and attract new students and parents, build trust, and relationships and ultimately select the right students (those who can be successful and contribute to our community). 
    We need the support of the academic staff, but even more importantly we have to mobilize other departments such as career services and alumni relations to assist our international efforts. After all, students and parents make the investment in our education with an expectation of finding satisfying and financially rewarding careers afterward.  
    We have little to show in terms of career support for our international students. We all know that trust is built on long term relationships; cultural familiarity will help as well. A successful alumni group carries greater credibility in their home country than I could ever bring to the table. We have neglected our small international alumni group for too long. Let's start offering assistance to and building relationships with our international alumni and they will become a valuable resource for us.
  • As you know, the marketing world for student recruitment is becoming more complex, and we are competing globally. Have you looked at the number of social media platforms we should support to communicate with students? I need to be a multi-cultural digital marketer since our students communicate and interact more and more through these channels.
    Our prospective international students are digital natives like their American counterparts. Mobile communication, blogs and social media are even bigger and more important in our main recruiting markets in Asia than in the United States. We need to have a strategy and implementation capabilities to be competitive.
    We don't have to be cutting edge but we have to be capabable of responding efficiently to the "on demand generation."  Our personal touch and our personal commitment to students will be the icing, but we need to strengthen our recruiting building blocks. 
  • I realize it's an easy cop out to ask for more resources. Yes, we are resource constrained, but I know that we can work smarter and more efficiently. We have to find better vendors and partners to help us evaluate and enhance our international student recruiting plans. We shouldn't just call our friends and do the things that are comfortable. You have our comittment that we will push the boundaries. 

The bottom line is that we will have to invest in two ways:

1. As a campus community, we have to make a commitment to support international student recruitment from the moment we seek to attract these students, to our ability to enroll them and support them on campus all the way through to graduation and employment as our proud alums.

2. We will have to allocate resources to improve our direct recruiting capabilities in international markets.  

I'll be in touch later today to schedule a meeting so I can show you our department's plan to achieve your goal for international enrollment growth. I think you'll be pleased with the direction I plan to take things.



Director of Admissions