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Recruiting Intelligence

Small Talk, So Underrated

You are welcome here.

DEI efforts to address inclusion.

These are big concepts that deserve big discussions on campuses everywhere. Discussions with senior leaders setting policies and developing programs to make everyone on campus feel involved and connected.

And to make all that happen, that feeling of being welcome and included, will rely on some of the small things that often are met with eye rolls. Yet, these small things are really important to this whole inclusion effort.

You know that inside joke and the trendy celebrity stuff you are not on top of? The conversation that just kind of left you like roadkill as it blew right by? Maybe silly. Perhaps kind of uncomfortable. Happens to all of us. And it happens to your new students frequently. Domestic, yes. International, all the time.

If you think small talk is meaningless, think again.

In our work for a large, highly ranked Midwestern institution, we were talking with Pham (not his real name). He traveled from Vietnam for his US studies. A natural networker, smart, interested in business, he chose to major in Business Management Information Systems and Finance. With that degree, it is no wonder he was snapped up by Deloitte where he currently works as a Senior Consultant in Tax Management.

To hear Pham tell it, connecting to the US community with small talk was critical to his success. He came to understand this during his studies as he tried to connect with the other international students and with his American peers. He found he was struggling to make friends.

Read on for Pham's perspective and our tips for getting these really important conversations started. It is all about personal and student success. 

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Flying Forward with In-Person Learning: Executive Edition

Let’s get a sneak peek at what the Intead team has in store for our fellow AIRC conference colleagues this year. A powerful group of student enrollment professionals will be gathering in Miami in just a few days. We can’t wait!

At this year’s AIRC conference (Miami, Dec 8-11), I will be sharing what we have learned recently through our work with three outstanding institutions. Our two conference session presentations this year speak to getting students to become aware of, and engaged by, the specific learning opportunities your institution offers. We hope you can join us.

  • Finding and Managing Brand Ambassadors for Recruitment
    • Intead with Northeastern University’s Kirsten Feddersen, Senior Director of International Enrollment Management. This one is truly a cutting edge take on influencer marketing and Gen Z attraction.
  • Innovative Recruiting Approaches for Specialty Grad Programs
    • Intead with Fordham Law School’s Toni Jaeger-Fine, Assistant Dean of International and Non-J.D. Programs and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Ita Duron, Executive Director of Global Strategies & International Programs. This one looks at a range of creative student recruiting alternatives to digital campaigns.

We are all eager for first-hand experiential learning opportunities and we complement that with the welcome release of the latest data from IIE’s Open Doors, NAFSA’s economic impact analysis, Common App's data, and the National Clearinghouse’s enrollment numbers that help inform the marketing magic that underpins our work here at Intead.

Read on for a bit of pre-conference insight into why these two conference session presentations rose to the top of our list this year.

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10 Ways To Develop Strategic Advantage For Enrollment

The student recruitment landscape has been in a state of flux that was forced upon all of us. Institutions have adapted in obvious ways (ramping up online education) and subtler ways that vary by institution.

Looking a bit over the horizon, we recognize that there is always the potential for unanticipated disruptions in addition to the challenging factors we see very clearly. As we consider what is next, the lever that has the greatest value is flexibility. The ability to ramp up or down with relative ease. The avoidance of plans that lock us into something long-term constricting our ability to adapt as circumstances change.

Building Flexibility Into the System

With that in mind, we offer up a quick comparison of 10 ways to develop strategic advantage for enrollment and their relative flexibility. In this case, we measure flexibility by two factors:

  • Time: Investment of administrative/staff time into making it happen and sustaining it
  • Money: Investment of capital (cash out) to make it happen

When we consider time, we also think about commitment – alliances and partnerships come with contracts that may or may not be easy to modify or escape from as factors on the ground change.

All in all, we see the largest value in those options that offer the greatest flexibility – least amount of effort (time), least amount of financial investment (money), and ability to ramp up or down on short notice (flexible contracts).

This week, Brad Farnsworth, formerly at ACE and now running Fox Hollow Advisory, will be joining me to present at the CIEE Summit 2021. We will be discussing some of the options raised in this blog post and how they relate to institutional initiatives that deepen internationalization efforts.

Read on for more on those strategic advantages.

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Competitor Analysis: Quick Insights Available

Every enrollment VP is fighting for students who will add value to their institution. Domestic is heading for the 2025 cliff while international is beginning to rebound from the pandemic travel restrictions. 

What better way to win market share than to tell the story that differentiates your institution? This week, for those of you not already familiar, we introduce you to Jon Boeckenstedt and a tool he’s created that can help you see quickly how your institution stacks up to your competition. Jon’s work consistently brings data insights and knowledge of the field to help institutions make better enrollment management decisions.

On the international side of things, be sure to register for the AIRC conference coming up in December where we will be presenting two valuable learning opportunities alongside colleagues from Northeastern University, Fordham Law School, and San Diego State University. Early bird rates are still on the table! See link below. And see you in Miami!

Read on to dive into the amazingly fast competitor insights you can gather and how you might use them to put the best version of your institution’s story out there. 

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Student Recruitment Insights from AIRC 2020 Conf - Slides Available

We’ve been presenting at the AIRC conference for eleven years now, and while the gathering looks very different this year, the value of connection and the wealth of ideas shared was a comforting constant from years past in Miami. Although we did miss the poolside networking on a warm December evening.

This year, members of the Intead team were honored to present two sessions together with our amazing colleagues from universities and other experts in the field focused on the AIRC 2020 Vision of “Charting the Waters.”

At Intead, charting the waters of this year has meant gathering and analyzing data, developing targeted, clear (and comforting) communications during this difficult time, and strategizing around new markets and tools to help institutions move their enrollment goals forward.

This absolutely gut-wrenching year, we started addressing the radical changes to student enrollment and student success on February 19 with a blog about adjusting the approach to recruiting international students from China. Days later, we convened enrollment management and study abroad experts for two powerful webinars addressing global ramifications (here and here). This year, our team has published, non-stop, with enrollment management guidance in toolkits, case studies, and eBooks (in addition to this weekly blog).

Read on for a collection of our highest value tips and to download our AIRC presentation slides. You'll find that oh-so-happy link at the bottom of today's post. (Making you work for it ; -)

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When the Cutting is Done, the Smart Investing

As we engage with our colleagues at the AIRC virtual conference this week and next, the discussions have us thinking, planning, and doing.

The financial challenges are quite real and the losses in the world of academia will continue to pile up in the near term. Survival and growth are possible, and your team knows that. Your leadership is engaged in some exceedingly difficult decision making right now.

Here are the financial realities: While deep and troubling, many institutions have been here before and frankly, this kind of pain is not all that new. Pandemic or no, institutions were heading for a financial crisis. Current circumstances have sped up the process. Those that have survived these challenges in the past stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We all want those investments in growth to be the right ones, but how do we know? Let’s look to our industry experts from our fellow AIRC members working in the trenches, to Moody’s Global Services, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed and make some sense of this. Concrete advice follows. Read on. 

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Do You Speak Gen Z? Part 2

Today's focus? Gen Z career aspirations and values. According to a recent study, over 50% of Gen Zers have their sights set on one single career plan.

Any guesses?

Let's just say, there are certain practical skill-building programs that might deserve more of your investment. More on that in a moment.


Boarding High Schools Take Note

Intead will be presenting tips and best practices for online recruiting along with TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools). "Recruitment Reimagined: Lessons from Higher Ed" -- online tools, digital campaign case studies, concrete results, great forum discussion. Specifically for private high school administrators. Wed, 10/28/20 at 3pm Eastern Time. Register HERE.


Last week we shared three key Gen Z traits to guide your recruitment marketing strategy.

This week we're diving a little deeper into the messaging part of enrollment management and student recruitment marketing. 

As usual, if any of the following insights get those marketing gears turning, we're here to talk. This is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to engaging and converting this new audience, and we'd love to learn about how your institution is evolving to meet the unique needs of Gen Z.

Plus, if you want to learn even more from us at the AIRC Conference, read on for the scoop. 

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Working with Education Agents: What Now?

This week, we are taking a look back at one of the more controversial topics (still!) in international recruitment – the use of agents. 

Originally, we thought this discussion was done when NACAC agreed that there was, in fact, an ethical way to engage agents to support your international student recruiting. Well…the debate wasn't quite over, for some.

We’ve all heard the education agent debate—how do I find and sustain ethical and productive relationships that benefit both my institution and my prospective students? How do I know whether I am working with the right agents? And ultimately—is using agents worth the risk? (Because we all know there are some bad actors out there).

This week we are taking a look at the regulations and a few of the underlying arguments and the evidence on either side.  

In September of 2016, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) amended two parts in their guidance to U.S. educators on using education agents. This code of ethics, titled Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP), was originally adopted in 2014. This document lays out the code of ethics and standards for the association and its members.

Then, in April of 2017, the U.S.-based Middle States Commission on Higher Education proposed new policy languages that would prohibit use of incentive-based compensation for international student recruitment. That objection eventually died on the vine.

Add to that the changes taking place in China and Vietnam around how these countries have recently relaxed regulations for recruiting agencies so that almost anyone can raise their hand and announce they are now a student recruiting shop.

Yet, the American Council on Education (ACE) recently released a report on internationalization efforts by U.S. institutions and they shared this: In 2011, 17% of respondents were engaged with education agents compared with 45% in 2016. Hello!

Our own recent research with FPP EDU Media that we presented at NAFSA in 2017 identified that 50% of international students find education agents helpful as they evaluate their options. And our sample size? More than 1M students surveyed resulted in 57,000+ student responses from 65 countries! (Find the link to our slides below). Those results are some of the most substantial and reliable in our industry.

Bottom Line: While the use of education agents by U.S. institutions is on the rise (considerably!), concerns about unethical practices are being addressed. Have you figured out where the best and most reliable agents are around the world? Is your institution too fearful of the downside? If so, you are probably not relying on THE recruiting channel that pretty much all institutions with any significant increase in international student population are using. And they use agents successfully. If your goal is to increase international student enrollment, ignore this recruiting channel at your own peril.

Read on to get some of the details of recent regulatory challenges and our insights into using agents to support your international student recruiting. This channel cannot be ignored. The risks are really only in whether you put the right processes in place to select and manage your recruiting team.

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Consider Retention from the Point of Offer

Let's start with a Happy Diwali to all our friends who celebrate! We share wishes for prosperity, wisdom and peace to all. And with those well wishes, we want to consider ideas about student retention this week.

When do you start thinking about student retention? Have you looked at your retention data lately? Our thought: we all need to think about retention from the get go, from the point of the admissions offer.

This week's post offers perspective on the advantages of this approach and some tips you'll want to consider as part of your communications plan. If your retention stats are not where they should be, and those stats will vary by type of institution and program, this post is for you. Frankly, even if your retention stats are where you want them to be, this post is probably still a good one for you.

Want to learn more from us? Intead will be at NAFSA Region X in Princeton, NJ, October 23-25. Two presentations with our latest recruitment insights:

  • International Recruiting…From Your Backyard with Bill Mena, Director of Boarding and International Admissions at Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland, and
  • Know Your Chinese Audience: Using Personas to Guide Your Marketing with Ita Hemouet, Director of Admissions, International Research & Strategy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University in Boston.

...or set up a time to meet us for coffee! We can always use an excuse for that extra cup of joe! 

Not heading to Princeton this month? How about Florida in December? Our team will be at AIRC (Dec. 6-9) and ICEF (Dec. 11-13). And of course there is AIEA in DC (Feb 18-21). So many opportunities to meet and discuss our latest research (4 new e-books heading your way in the coming months - Shhhh! We are keeping that quiet right now).

But if you REALLY want to learn from the best of the best, check out our faculty at the 2nd Annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp in San Diego (Feb 11-13). This small, hands on workshop format is for a select set of institutions making a real commitment to improving their international student recruitment program.

Meanwhile, in this week's blog we are considering retention. Retention starts with the offer of acceptance to your institution. That might seem like a bold statement – a shift in perspective, but we like to think that it should be intuitive. When you offer a student a place at your institution, you are committing to the entire process of maintaining that relationship until the point of graduation and beyond.

While it might seem hard to believe that extra effort focused on retention this early in their university process will impact your prospective students’ decisions down the road – we assure you that it can. Build your relationships early and often. Let’s take it from the beginning. Read on...

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Calculating Return On Investment

There is so much happening here at Intead this week! We are so excited to share it with you.

First, we are dedicating this week’s blog post to our team member Jen Thayer, (you may know her as the long time manager of this blog), who will be moving on to pursue a new career opportunity at Tufts Health Plan this week. We are so proud of everything Jen has contributed to the growth of this company. She is a very dear colleague and friend, and we know that she will continue to share her positive energy and enthusiasm with the world. Best of luck Jen – we are all cheering you on! 

Next, we are excited to be presenting a webinar: “A Game of Finders Keepers: Finding and keeping the good agents” in partnership with AIRC and Angel Ahmed of GNET-Global Network, Inc. this afternoon, Wednesday September 27th at 1:00 p.m. EST. 

We all know that finding a good international recruitment agent has its challenges, and maintaining the partner relationship isn’t any easier! How do you do it well when faced with different time zones, language barriers, and the need to stand out among the other schools in an agency’s portfolio? We will address these questions and more! Click here to register.

And finally, this week we are considering return on investment in the international recruitment process – how well are you able to track ROI? Good data helps you improve your recruitment, it helps you prove to your campus leadership that your recruitment efforts are worth it, and it shows you where you can improve. 

Finding the right formula for your university can help you answer questions about where you should be focusing your recruiting budget, and where you should be backing away. Read on to see where your institution can make key improvements in measuring ROI…

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