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Recruiting Intelligence

How to improve the productivity of international recruiting trips

Travel to international markets and personal outreach to students and parents is an important element of student recruitment. No different than in your home recruitment activities, the personal touch can be a critical starting point of a relationship and a future enrollment.

In addition to your salary expense, colleges and universities spent significant amounts of their budgets on international airfare, hotels and college fairs.  Given this investment, you should consider how can you make the trips even more productive, reaching more students and parents and building your presence in the market.  One of your main goals should be to create as many touchpoints with your representatives or prospective students.  

Think of your home process. Students have the ability to learn from their high school guidance counselors, attend high school information sessions and college fairs, and often visit your campus directly and participate in personal conversations. International students have far less information about the international university environment, the living and study environment, and, in general, they have fewer touchpoints to connect. 


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This blog will summarize several best practices we have seen and additional ideas.

Prior to departure:

  • Prepare native language fact sheets for your programs. Start with a simple summary sheet that you can distribute to students as a tangible, easy to understand document.

  • Prepare a parent-specific brochure especially if you recruit for undergraduates. Even for graduate level education, the parents are the critical decision maker and need solid information to accept your educational value proposition.

  • Prepare business cards in local language, in particular if you make institutional stops. 

  • Arrange contact with alumni, if available. Alumni are an incredibly valuable resource with a strong bond to your institution. They carry a great deal of credibility. We suggest that you connect with them and, whenever possible, include them in recruiting events.

  • Announce your travel schedule on your website. Provide a touch point and ability to meet with you. 

  • For many schools, their recruiters are the most important marketing channel. Hence, your attention is focused on your recruiter network, but interestingly almost all of the points above still apply. How can you be an attractive school for the recruiting counselors to suggest? Think of U.S. high school counselors; the task is no different. You need to show what a good student fit looks like, demonstrate your value and explain what's required to successfully apply. 

Upon return: 

  • Follow up is critical. Far too often, you travel for weeks at a time, meet many students, arrive at home exhausted, and contact information takes weeks to enter your CRM system or the fair provider takes weeks to provide you with the information.  As a result, much of the goodwill you have created will be lost. The student will also meet many different universities and, truth be told, from 6000 miles away, universities can look rather similar. (Unfortunately, with the exception of your U.S. news ranking) 

  • What can we do to create more valuable touchpoints with the prospective student? 

    • Create a recorded webinar / video to be distributed as a follow up to learn more. Ideally, you provide a local language version or at least subtitles. Remember there are countries where bandwidth is more limited or the majority of internet access happens via mobile devices.

    • Organize life events with admissions staff and /or faculty. Faculty with local language skills can be a great credibility builder for parents.

    • If you have an ambassador program, put prospective students in touch with your current students, ideally from their home country, but any student will be better than no contact.  

  • We know that you have the capabilities to provide regular email updates as you do for U.S. applicants. Think about enhancing these events with customized local language mailings. The open rates will be higher and the student and parents will recognize your interest and committment. 

  • Once you have admitted students, plan ahead for a dedicated effort to increase yield from those admissions. As with American students, qualified international students will have multiple acceptences and, in particular, those with sufficient fundings will have choices. Hence, creating a relationship with the student and the parents will be critical.  Don't forget to showcase all of your assets, including career services.