Attracting International Students Part Two: Communicating Your Message

Last week we shared what we’ve learned about welcoming international students. If you missed that post, check it out here

So you’re ready now to wave the welcome banner for prospective international students. Maybe you’ve mastered the art of communicating with American students, but international relations still seems like, well… another world. And indeed it is.

As you think about reaching international students with your university’s message, we’ve summed up some helpful tips with Two R’s: Resources and Relationships. 

Prospective international students and their families will have all kinds of questions about your university and life in your community. Make it easy for them to find answers—beyond the basics like student housing and academic programs. Dedicate space on your website as a Resource Guide for international students, including information like: 

  • Student organizations and other campus groups that intentionally welcome international students.
  • Where to get furniture (free or cheap).
  • Where to buy groceries (even the closest international markets and their addresses).
  • Public transportation and help with getting a driver’s license or buying a car.
  • Local restaurants, parks, and cultural points of interest.
  • Activities, schools, and resources for spouses and children (primarily for graduate students or post-doc researchers bringing families).

Some large universities have had strong success by setting up recruiting offices in major cities like Beijing. You don’t have to go to those lengths, though, to develop productive international relationships.

Get to know educational leaders in other countries. Establishing trust is a two-way street. As you’re interacting with officials in other countries, listen to their concerns and respond accordingly. Keep communication open and be ready to continually learn. 

Remember that your current international students may be your best recruiting tool. Collect testimonials of international students—especially from those who experienced a warm welcome and new friendships—and feature these on your website. You may also take opportunities to connect these students with prospective students in their home countries via social media. 

Keep in mind, too, that international students usually remain strongly connected back home. If they have a good experience at your university, they’re more likely to encourage their own friends and family to come, too!