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Recruiting Intelligence

Higher Education is Changing. Are You Keeping Up?

Today on the Recruiting Intelligence blog, we’re excited to broaden the enrollment conversation.

You may have read our guest post a few weeks ago from Dr. David Di Maria about the commonalities between international and non-traditional students.

Most Wednesdays, we cover topics related to international student recruitment. As our readers know, effective international student outreach requires an understanding of two fundamental concepts:

  • The first idea is cheesy, but true: no matter where we’re from, we’re all people with common core desires, fears, and drives. The desire for a safe and enriching environment, fear of isolation or failure, and the drive to succeed in our chosen field are pretty universal.
  • The second concept is the hard part: While we all share the same broad needs, our background does shape the best ways to capture our attention, meet our desires, assuage our anxieties, and encourage our dreams.

Understanding that duality is the key to effectively reaching international students and prompting them to take action (read that as "prompting them to apply"). It’s also the key to reaching another, increasingly important group of students. We’ve been thinking about these learners a lot lately, and we’re jazzed about discussing them here today: “non-traditional students.”

Non-traditional students are the future of education—both international and domestic. This is a group of students that clients are asking about more and more, and a market segment none of us can afford to ignore it.

We’re so certain of this, in fact, that we wrote a whole book about the subject. 

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Innovative Case Studies in Higher Ed: Learn From Your Peers

Can you hear the clamor? That's enrollment professionals across the US trying to figure out how to fix their graduate enrollment numbers. Oh, and their undergrad numbers too. You've probably already been thinking about where the emerging markets are for higher education as the enrollment trends shift.

The tools we use to segment and engage global student markets are equally applicable to domestic markets here in the US as well. We have a number of international higher ed clients seeking to build awareness in and enrollment from the US market.

The US domestic market is a complicated one, to be sure. As the current international enrollment numbers decline, we are helping both foreign and domestic institutions identify and capture new markets. It's a time of great dynamism. 

Want To Know What Your Peer Institutions Are Doing?

This is why we are talking more and more about "non-traditional" students. Did you know that non-traditional student enrollment is projected to grow 21.7% from 2016-2022? 

A desire to attract these domestic segments (the range of non-traditional students) is transforming the way that many institutions think about their programs, campus life and overarching communications strategy. 

You may have read our guest blog post from a few weeks ago by Dr. David Di Maria, covering the many similarities between the underlying motivations of international and non-traditional students. If not, we highly suggest you check it out here

This week, we want to share with you some personal stories from the people behind institutional brands doing very big things in the field of non-traditional student recruitment. We're willing to bet there are a few people in your own institution (just a few clicks away) who could use these insights.

As always, we encourage you to share this content. And we encourage you to reach out to us and let us know what challenges you are facing. Maybe you can prompt our next research project.

Are you ready? All of these excerpts are taken directly from full-length interviews you can read in our latest e-book, Quality. Cost. Convenience. How Academic Leaders are Competing for Today's Non-Traditional Students. If you enjoy what you read here (or know someone else who might) we invite you to download the full e-book

Let's see what some of your most innovative peers have to say... 

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Where International and Non-Traditional Meet

Where International & Non-Traditional Meet

Dr. David L. Di Maria, Associate Vice Provost for International Education, University of Maryland Baltimore County, is a renowned expert on international education. Dr. Di Maria previously served as the President of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) and Chair of NAFSA’s International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community. We’re delighted to have him as a guest writer here on the Intead Intelligence blog.

Before you dive into Dr. Di Maria's wisdom, we need to share the opportunity to gain wisdom from one of our other industry's leaders: Karin Fischer, veteran education industry reporter whose stories appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the The New York Times will team up with Intead CEO Ben Waxman to explore current political perspectives coming out of China and India. 

Upcoming Intead Webinar: What's Politics Got To Do With It? Depends on Whom You Ask.

This post below is adapted from Dr. Di Maria’s recent piece for The EvoLLLution: How to Make International Learning Opportunities More Accessible to Non-Traditional Learners.


It’s simple: non-traditional students are changing the landscape of higher ed in the U.S.

The typical “traditional” college student is 18-to-24-years-old, living on campus, and financially supported by parents. That archetype is fading into history. More and more, students are…

  • Embarking on degrees while juggling careers, kids, or parents who they support
  • Living off-campus
  • Completing their education online
  • Taking courses part-time

These students are rapidly becoming the new traditional. And yet, they are too often left out of the global learning community.

How do we fix it?

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The Risk of Following vs. The Value of Leading

Reflecting on AIEA conversations and what we are seeing in the field, I find myself thinking about the risk of being a follower and the value of being a strategic leader.

  • Followers see where the crowd is headed and go there without due diligence.
  • Leaders see where the crowd is headed and then check the numbers.

This is important. Increasingly so.

The effort to recruit international students is heating up in the US. The pressure on university administrators is growing. With India and China sending the most students to the US, most newcomers to the field – the universities finally joining the fray and looking to diversify their student body – are turning to these source countries. It can be a mistake.

We are seeing the global education agent network being pressured to produce more students for more campuses. That increased pressure is going to bring us renewed stories of fraud and inappropriate recruiting behavior. We don't want to see anyone caught up in that mess.

It is important, REALLY important, to align your team with talent – the kind of partners who don't cut corners and have your best interests at heart. This field is full of questionable characters, as we all know. Many of us have the scars to prove it.

Following our travels to San Diego for our Annual Student Recruitment Bootcamp and moving on to DC for AIEA, the Intead team is grateful for all of the opportunities to connect face-to-face with you, our colleagues and friends in such a challenging time for our industry. (More on our Bootcamp in a post in March.)  Focusing on AIEA for a moment, we have to thank AIEA's Darla Deardorff for feeding so many of us with great information and wonderful food for a few days in DC. The AIEA conference was well run and well delivered. Informational and so often inspiring.

During the conference, we had the pleasure of giving presentations on enrollment trends with Kaplan International and on US–India university partnerships with Monmouth University and Sannam S4. Both sessions were filled with lively discussion and audience engagement. As always, we shared ideas and had fun learning from each other. Thank you to all who attended! It is always a pleasure.

Read on for more reflections and insights from the conferences and my thoughts on enrollment trends and predictions. 

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Know Your Neighborhood - Fall 2017
Global Alumni Management for U.S. Institutions