As we look forward to wrapping up 2017 and reflect on the year, we are noticing one recurring theme. Throughout 2017, the world of international student recruitment has been hyper-focused on the concerns around a limited recruitment budget.
Many of our colleagues reported that the biggest blow was to their designated funds for travel, and many institutions have endured reductions in staff, limiting their recruitment resources even more. And, as you know, the enrollment expectations from above are as high as ever – if not higher!
Well, during this holiday season – we’re here to give you some hope (and tips!).
There are things you can do now, small things, on an even smaller budget, that can make a big impact later. We recommend you consider trying all 10 of our recruitment tips for under $10 and then do them again…and again…and again. Read on to see how you can make a big impact with a little funding...
A quick reminder: we'll be taking a break from the blog next week and you'll see great content here again in January 2018! Odd to write 2018. (There's a joke in there about future sight being 2020, or something like that...). Either way, time flies, doesn't it?
In January, we'll be posting our slides from all of our AIRC and ICEF presentations. Hey, and when you have a moment during the holiday break, check out our International Student Recruitment Bootcamp. Spaces are filling fast -- limted to 100 attendees who will all walk out with a global marketing plan fashioned to their institution with the help of our globally knowledable faculty.
Read on to get your 10 tips all under $10. Happy Holidays from our team to yours. Enjoy the season!
We want you to consider how you can strengthen your important connections and relationships through each interaction you have in the recruitment funnel -- interactions you have with everyone involved in your recruitment strategy inculding your admissions staff, agents, partners and of course, your prospective students and their parents. That's a tall order.
And these points of interaction need to be creative and relevant so they stand out from the 100s (maybe 1000s) of US universities reaching out to those same people and prospects. The tips below are simple, low-cost techniques for strengthening your relationships and ensuring positive points of contact with everyone involved in your enrollment process.
1. Map Your Application Process
The first tip in our list of 10 under $10 is what we consider the most important and worthwhile. It lays the foundation for successful recruitment. Our research continues to prove that response time directly impacts the decision-making process for students. If there are bottlenecks in your application process and delays in your communication to applicants, you are probably losing students. Whether you spend $10 or $100,000 on recruitment efforts, if your applicants are not having a positive customer experience when applying to your institution, you’ve wasted your money.
Pick up a pack of multi-colored post-it notes and map out your application process, every last detail and step (including estimated time for each task), on a blank wall. Our good friend and your colleague, Megan Prettyman, Director of International Recruitment and Admissions for Montana State University, is a pro at this simple, but effective technique. Look for ways to eliminate repetitive, unnecessary steps. Find the black holes that may be contributing to a delayed response. Are there things you can do to improve communication? The more detail about the process you can provide to an applicant, the more reasonable their expectations will be, providing them with a better, smoother, application process.
2. Collect Real-Time Student Videos
Offer a $10 gift card to a current international student who is willing to submit a "Why I chose this university," self-produced video under 60 seconds. Be sure to provide them with some basic points to help them get started, such as: Where are they from? What are they studying? Why did they choose your university? What advice could they offer another international student?
Raw, unscripted, off-the-cuff student videos are fun, shareable, influential, and meaningful. Not only can you easily use the video for email marketing and the university’s social media, but you can encourage the student to share their video with their connections (you probably won’t even have to ask).
3. Recruit From Your own Backyard
Need international students? Take a look in your own backyard. Use online resources like The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) to find out which private high schools in your region are hosting international students and reach out via email to the high school guidance counselor.
According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of College Admissions Counselling (NACAC), guidance counselors are underprepared when it comes to assisting international students with the college admissions process. A quick introduction along with some helpful information they could share with their international students is a great place to start building this relationship.
Check back here (our blog) in January for our AIRC slides about recruiting from US high schools and other domestic sources of international students. And if you are a US high school, join us for our webinar on international student recruiting on January 9 -- See this LINK to register.
4. Reconnect With Your Admissions Team
And don’t forget about your domestic team. Pick an admissions rep and treat them to coffee. Ask them about their plans to visit local private high schools and talk about ways you can equip them with enough knowledge to help them when speaking with international students. They know the concerns and motivations of an international student as compared to the domestic students they typically talk to, right?
Help them be effective international recruiters. And make sure they bring a stack of your business cards with them on their next visit to a high school.
5. Strengthen Relationships With Local High Schools
While on the subject of private high schools, keep in mind that many of these schools offer 6 to 8 week summer immersion programs. Contact the school to find out how your institution can be added to their college tours. An alternative would be to offer an early morning in-person session for their students to introduce them to your offerings. If you can arrange a current international student to come along with you, even better. And don’t forget the $10 bucket of donuts!
6. Connect With a Local Community College (Bring Chocolate!)
According to the 2015 open doors data, there are 91,648 international students studying at community colleges in the U.S. Pick a community college in your area and pay a visit to their advising office with business cards, marketing materials and chocolates to ensure you’re welcomed! Be sure to connect with the person who directly advises international students for future reference.
7. Utilize Your Alumni
Utilize your alumni to expand your reach. You can find international alumni working in the area through a quick search on Linkedin. Once you find them, invite them out for coffee and learn about their career experience. What advice would they offer a current student?
Landing a job after graduation weighs heavily on the minds of international students. You can use these stories along with the statistics from your alumni search on Linkedin in your marketing messages to potential students. Where are your international alumni working? In which industries are they finding success? A great free resource on this topic is Intead’s new ebook produced with Academic Assembly all about Global Alumni Management.
You can download your copy here to discover more ways to stay in touch with these brand ambassadors.
8. Strengthen Your Agent Relationships
Are you working with agents? Take 10 minutes to send an email to the agent responsible for sending you one of your current international students. You know, the one that is the perfect fit.
Drop them a note telling them about the student’s success at your institution and how much you appreciate the referral. Point out some of the qualities the student has that contributes to their success and ask the agent if they have any more like them.
This simple gesture with a minimal investment of time will leave a lasting impression and serve as a “best fit” guide for the agent.
9. Pizza Lunch Yields Key Insights!
Invite two current international students from differing countries to have a pizza lunch with you (look for 2 for 1 pizza deals in your area and invite 4 students!). Talk about their experiences so far with the university. Are they happy? Ask them to submit an online review of the institution on Google, Facebook, Niche or Yelp. Be sure to provide them with links to these review sites to make it easier for them to complete the task. If you’re not convinced that boosting your school’s online reviews will help you recruit more students, think again! (Worth the click -- and share it!)
10. Run a SIMPLE Facebook Campaign
And, before we go, did you know that you can run a Facebook targeted ad for as little as $10 a day? You may want to consider using all that new video content you’ve collected from your students to get in front of potential students by using lookalike and custom audiences. Connect with your school’s social media manager to find out how.
Repeat tips 2 through 9 over and over again.
So little money…so many ideas!
What are your techniques to keep budget down and yield high? Let us know in the comments!