Tag Archives: social media

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.

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Technology & International Student Recruiting – Boston Meet Up

Technology & International Student Recruiting is an open group forum for anyone interested in discussing web based technology, tools and techniques for recruiting international students.

We will be addressing questions such as:

What new web 2.0/social media technology is out there for us to use?

What new media initiatives are we currently pursuing? Blogging? Podcasting? Video? Twitter? Facebook? Orkut?

What do people want to learn how to use?

WHEN:

6:00-8:30p Monday, February 2, 2009

WHERE:

Suffolk University
73 Tremont St.- 1st Floor
Amenities Conference Center
Boston, Massachusetts
View Map

The event is open to the public!

FORMAT:

6:00p-6:30p
Mix & Mingle (with refreshments!!)

6:30p – 8:00
Open Discussion (topics determined by group)

8:00p – 8:30p
Wrap-up Mix & Mingle

Please RSVP through our facebook event or by e-mailing jake@goswoop.com if you plan to attend

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!

2009 Predictions for International Student Recruiting

With the end of 2008 drawing closer what better time than now to make some predictions about 2009.  Cheryl Drrup-Boychuck of the U.S. Journal of Academics points out some of the trends that she sees approaching our international student market in her report, ‘Top Nine Trends for 2009‘.

Here are some additional comments on a few of the trends that she foresees…

1. Travel vs. Technology:

More so than just a decrease in the budget for traveling I see the need to meet the new prospective international student in places that are comfortable for them.  Let’s remember that it won’t be very long before the students we are targeting are the ones born after the advent of the world wide web!  So make sure you are learning how to use web technology!

5. Global Mobile Usage:

Forget e-mail, embrace sms and mobile phone apps!  There is going to be a shift over the next few years where we see fewer and fewer Gen Y prospective students touching PC’s.  Everything is going to be about the mobile phone!

Not only ask yourself if your institution’s website has a mobile version but are you interacting with students via their mobile devices?  Rather than collecting the e-mails of prospective students on your recruiting trips or on your digital inquiry cards start collecting mobile phone numbers!!!

8. EducationUSA’s Global Marketing Strategy:

If you are going to begin embracing the use of social media and web 2.0 technology make sure EducationUSA offices are very aware of what you are using and how student can find you on the web.  As we all know these offices reach so many prospective students every year.  So have EducationUSA help you by distributing the various avenues in which prospective students can learn more about you!


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!

Why Study at my School

I recently participated in College Week Live, which was a virtual college fair.  If you have ever been to a real college fair or exhibition hall at a conference, College Week Live is an atmosphere of 3D images of exhibition booths where colleges and universities could market their schools to prospective students.

While not answering international students’ questions at the goSwoop booth, I clicked my way through the fair visiting the booths of various colleges and universities.  With so many new ways to promote one’s school I was interested to see how colleges and universities were promoting their institution through College Week Live.  Needless to say I was very impressed with some schools and was awe struck by others.

What struck me the most was the way in which many institutions projected their message of ‘Why study at our school’.  This may seem like a very simple question but from what I saw many schools fail to answer it.  For example, at one school’s virtual booth they had posted a video addressing this very question.  I clicked on the video to watch and the ultimate message of the video dropped my jaw.  Why study at our school?  ‘Why Not?’

When I saw this answer It made me believe, ‘This school has nothing cool to offer its students.  There is nothing different or interesting about it so why would I ever want to consider going there?’

Developing a message for the student target market is becoming more and more complex but increasingly more important.  With the ever growing use of social media it is no longer enough to have one message for your international student target market.  Social media is very grass roots which means one’s audience becomes more and more niche.  So, a marketing message and social media strategy that works in India most likely will not work in China.

So how does one create an effective message that can be used for its social media efforts?

The best place to start is going through the process of developing an institution’s value proposition and benefit statements.  This will force an institution to realize who their target market is (hint: you are not going to be able to reach all the countries and regions of students you would like with your available resources).  Once a school understands who they can target, given the resources available to them, they will be better equipped to effectively pursue a successful social marketing campaign and more importantly be able to answer the most important question of all, ‘Why study at our school’.