Tag Archives: admissions

Technology and International Student Recruiting Meet-Up #3

logo_821Tech & Int’l Student Recruiting Meetup #3 was held this evening at Suffolk University and there was a lot to cover after last month’s cancellation due to heavy snow. However, April showers did not hinder the dedicated from showing up tonight.

It was great to hear from the admissions recruiter and social media specialist from Bentley University on how they are integrating social media in int’l student recruiting. Search Marketing Specialist from iProspect shared valuable insight about establishing a strategy to measure SM initiatives.  And we discussed process mapping to gain a better understanding of where prospective students and their parents are living on the web and how to engage with them more effectively with social media tools.

Thanks to everyone who came despite the rain, hope to see you all next month. Big thanks also to George Comeau and Suffolk University for providing a great location and space for us to meet.

Very much looking forward to seeing you all Monday, May 18th for Tech & Int’l Student Recruiting #4.

Links from April 6th discussion:
BlueFuego – The Web in Higher Education: What’s Different?
Stanford University YouTube Channel
SXSW Education thread on Twitter #SXSWED

College and University Budgets Contracting? Start Thinking Creatively

DSCN1583We all are aware of our current economy’s struggles.  We can see it directly affecting our abilities to maintain certain initiatives at our jobs.  While many think that a decrease in budgets will ultimately hinder our ability to meet recruiting goals we should take a minute and look at the situation from a new angle.

A lack of ‘sufficient’ funds will force us to think creatively about how we can achieve our goals.

I guess I have some experience with this as someone who is bootstrapping the start-up of a company however looking back, it has offered me the opportunity to develop my entrepreneurial creativity.  I have talked to many schools who are throwing money at the creation of videos, development of YouTube channels, interactive campus maps, extravagant recruiting tours and so much more.  While this is great and important there are other avenues of lesser cost which could prove to be sneakily effective.

Want to increase your exposure to students interested in your school?  Want to get your school’s name in front of thousands of students in specific cities, countries?

One idea that will cost you virtually nothing but a little time and social interaction is getting to know the advisers at EducationUSA who are interacting with millions (just listen to Janaka Pushpanathan of the Chennai office talk about the USIEF advising centers) of prospective international students each year.  While visiting the USEFP office in Lahore I had a great conversation talking to the Education adviser and noticed during our conversation what was hanging on the wall behind him.

Roger Williams Univesity had sent their school’s pennant and poster that hung directly behind him in the site line of any student who sits down in front of him asking for advice on which schools might be a good fit for them.

Roger Williams University well represented

Roger Williams University well represented

One thought is to talk to advisers in the locations of interest to you, ask them about the ideas of hanging a poster in their advising center.

If there is an opportunity to do that make sure your poster has a call to action on it.  For example don’t just stick your school’s name on the poster or pennant.  Include a web address specific to the international student with a message telling them something tot he effect of “See what opportunities await international students at School XYZ”.

While in South Asia my conversations with the EducationUSA advisers showed me how eager these advisers are to help students and get them information about schools in the US.  Take advantage of the energy and passion of these EducationUSA advisers and ask them how you can better work with their offices.

Best part, all this work with EducationUSA is free!

Technology and International Student Recruiting

Meet-Up

Meet-Up

Last night was the first ‘Technology and International Student Recruiting‘ Meet-up here in Boston and it was a fantastic conversation.  Many thanks to George and the rest of the folks from Suffolk University who hosted the event!

There were people from all different aspects of tech and higher education who added a lot to the overall conversation and dynamic of the group.

We discussed a lot of points that were interesting last night and though I would share and extend the conversation if anyone else is interested in participating…

Budgets

We hit the topic of next year’s school budgets and how that would affect travel for international student recruiting.  I wondered if schools were going to be shifting more resources away from travel to utilization of new social media initiatives.  From some people it sounds like schools have no intention to give up travel but are still pouring energy and resources into new media as the millennial target market demands it.

One person commented that physical interaction can’t be beat especially when marketing to international students.  Travel will remain a mainstay of recruiting but schools are becoming even more focused on targeted locations around the world.

Is your school becoming more focused on destinations of travel?  Rather than continent, region, or country are you now more focused on cities or even particular feeder schools?

The impression that I understood is that schools are starting to shy away from the more expensive international student recruiting tours.  It sounds like schools are going to be coming up with alternatives to these tours.

What is your school doing next year?  Giving up on the expensive tours?  Shifting more financial and human capital toward social media and the web?

Evolution of Interaction

Many schools are more accpeting of utilizing new social media intiatives.  Where once Facebook looked to be a daunting proposal for an admissions office (not that it still isn’t) schools are understanding that whether they are are taking an initiative on Facebook, people will be creating pages and groups about their school.  It’s all about if the school wants to participate in that conversation or be ignorant about it.

The interesting point that arose was how students will interact with institutions in a grammatical sense.  Some people commented on how students converse with admissions counselors or instituion staff using the ‘LOL’ speak rather than the typical formal language that we automatically believe everyone will use when communicating with someone in a ‘professional atmosphere’.

Has anyone else experienced this or seen this LOL speak as a growing concern?  I know speaking with the EducationUSA office in Lahore, Pakistan last week, the adviser in the office found that many prospective students don’t know how to interact professionally which of course could ultimately hurt the student in the admissions process.

Establishing Commuities for Students

With schools more willing to embrace new social media initiatives, one admisisons counselor commented on how they are looking for quality opportunities to set up communities for prospective students to engage the school in a conversation.  For example why restrict oneself to Facebook when one can set up communities in more popular country specific social networks like Orkut.com in India and Brazil  or Wer-kennt-wen.de in Germany.

One point that turned out to be a pro and con was who was going to manage these communities especially when the people working in the admissions office can’t speak the language in which the conversation was being held.  Many people agreed that if current international students at their school could spearhead such initiatives it would prove to be super beneficial.  For one, prospective students would much prefer to speak with other international students about what they can expect at a school rather than an admissions counselor in which they will more than likely have a harder time relating to.  But of course, finding a student who is excited and motivate enough to stick with such an initiative can sometimes be a difficult task.

Are any schools utilizing current students to spearhead community building on country specific social networks?  Which countries are you focusing on?

Next Meeting

There will be another meeting next month (March) so if anyone is interested in this topic and interested in hearing what others in this community are doing please join us on the Technology and international Student Recruiting meet up group.

Balance Virtual with Reality

There is so much emphasis these days on using social media for recruiting international students.  I do believe that it is a necessity to leverage social media but in order to leverage it successfully we must understand what it is.

Social media is merely a toolset for developing relationships.  It’s great that we are able to connect instantly with people from around the world to deliberate on topics of common interest but I still believe a relationship is not complete until the face to face meeting.

I’m sitting in the Abu Dhabi Airport on my way to the EducationUSA conference in Dehli, India realizing how great it will be to finally meet face to face with people I have been corresponding with for months.  Yes we effectively speak via the internet and develop a rapport but the relationship in my mind will be much more meaningful after meeting in person.

The same goes for developing relationships with students.  If there are students that are interested in your school and have corresponded with you via the internet in some capcity, try to manage a face to face meeting with them if you happen to be recruiting in their city.  Nothing in my mind is more meaningful both for the admissions counselor or the prospective student.

The Importance of Being Focused

How many international recruiting initiatives are you using?  Have you been able to devote enough time to those initiatives to be extremely effective?

Time and resources are always our greatest enemies.  There are so many great services to utilize but unfortunately for most of us we just don’t have the time or man power to employ them effectively.  So rather than using a new service or social media initiative because it is new and popular, first realize if you are going to be able to devote enough time and energy to make it worth your school’s while.

There was a great blog post from the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur about being ‘The Master of Too‘.   He asks, ‘…Name the athlete who won gold medals in swimming, fencing, gymnastics, and basketball – in the same Olympics. Stumped? That’s because no one has done it, and no one ever will.’

The idea that someone could spend enough time and energy to be the best at such a wide variety of sports is unrealistic.  The same goes for the international student recruiting industry.  If we don’t have a focus on which type of students we would like to recruit or which initiatives we can be the best at, we will continue to see mediocre results from all of our efforts.

The secret is to be focused.  Cut out all the fat so to speak.  Eliminate the services that sound great in theory but that are not given the attention necessary to make them successful.

We just embarked on a new year.  This is a great time to reassess which services we are using and eliminate the ones that we don’t have the time or energy to be the best at.  It is important to see results with any initiative we utilize so make sure when you do say, ‘This is so cool, I want to use this service’, you can devote the time and energy necessary to use it effectively.

Social Media for International Admissions: Either Get In the Game or Get Out

There has been a lot of conversation over the past day and a half regarding this 2013 ‘Facebookgate’ scandal.  If you haven’t heard yet, the full investigative report from Brad J. Ward can be found on his blog at www.squaredpeg.com.

If you want the quick overview, College Prowler may have crossed the vague lines of ethical Facebook use when they created unofficial class of 2013 groups for various US educational institutions.  College Prowler’s interns were in turn the admins of these groups hence controlling the flow of mass information to the group’s student members.

As Brad points out, while this isn’t a big deal if this were only done with one school, the fact that they had created groups for many schools and many students were joining each group, the potential power over the flow of information to a very valuable target market was in College Prowler’s control (they were definitely seeing dollar signs in their eyes)

I see this as a wake up call and an opportunity to point out how important it is for institutions to be of the conversations about their schools on the internet.  The social web in which we live and participate is an ongoing conversation.  A conversation that can’t be had unless all parties are willing to participate.  Yes that mean you too admissions offices!!!

Institutions need to understand that it isn’t enough just to have a username and profile of a social network like Facebook or to have an account on Twitter.  We need to be active participants of these mediums and not defer to our students to lead the initiatives on these internet services.  We now see what can happen when we leave our voices out of the conversation.

I think Brad and all the others who participated in the investigation of ‘Facebookgate’ would agree that without collaborative tech like Twitter and Google docs this investigation would have taken much longer and may have never been uncovered (imagine trying to use e-mail to have a conversation amongst hundreds of people).  So what does that say about the usefulness of social media?

If there is something to be learned today (other than karma is alive and well) it is that institutions can no longer sit on the fence with social media.  We either have to committ or get out of the game (and unfortuantely getting out of the game isn’t really an option).  So if you are going to be on Facebook, be a part of the conversations that relate to your school!

I think ultimately we will find that although we have to work a little harder to overcome the learning curve of new social media, in the long term it will make our jobs more fulfilling.  But more importantly actively using social media will create a college admissions experience that the Gen Y prospective student demands!

I do want to congratulate Brad and everyone else who participated in the investigation.  It is great to see the power of social media when used for good!

Are You a Social ‘Admissions’ Office?

I have had a lot of fun meeting and talking to many college and university international admissions recruiters over the past few years.  One common theme that always arises from these conversations is how admissions offices can embrace ‘web 2.0’ technology.  Everyone is under the realization that the next wave of prospective international students spend more time on the internet than anyone before and for this reason we know that our traditional methods of recruiting need to evolve.

Throughout these conversations the topic of social networking always arises.  ‘We have a Facebook group (or page) where students can find us!’ is a statement I hear a lot.

While I too agree that Facebook is a great place for exposure and interacting with prospective students, it is not the antidote to the problem of enhancing our recruiting of Generation Y prospective students.

There are so many more opportunities other than Facebook for us to broaden our ability to recruit prospective international students.

Where do I start?

The first question to ask yourself is ‘how social is your admissions office?’

What I mean by this is… working in the field of international student recruiting, we need to be extremely educated in the use of social media.  So are you going out and learning from others what the emerging prospective international student market is utilizing and how you can use it to help your admissions office?

This industry is in the midst of a major shift.  While some of our traditional recruiting techniques will still be effective, knowing what technology our prospective international students are using and how WE can use it will prove to be the game breaker between very successful recruiting schools and the status quo.

How do I get social?

If you are ready to learn and accept the challenge to educate yourself on the technology your emerging prospective student market is using a great place to start is to GET OUT OF YOUR ADMISSIONS OFFICE!

I live in the Boston area and I love it because there are so many people around here who are gurus with social media and love to share what they know.  I learn more about what technology is available how to use these different technologies by going to meet-ups after work and listening to these guys.

I would recommend starting by looking on the web for meetups in your area.  Here are a few website suggestions to get started:

www.meetup.com – place to find meetups in your area

www.upcoming.yahoo.com– place to find meetups in your area

www.marksguide.com – guide for those of us in Boston

www.rinexus.com – awesome social events in the Providence, RI area

www.bostonmediamakers.com – great place to learn about media technology if you live in the Boston area

If anyone else has suggestions feel free to let me know or throw them up in the comments section!