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We share how to adapt your events and webinars to the key milestones of international students’ application journey.
In a previous blog article, we discussed the 3 key questions you need to ask before planning and personalising your virtual event.
- Where are your students in their application journey?
- What type of international school/secondary institution are they studying at?
- How much do they already know about your institution?
While these are essential questions for your events planning, there are a range of other variables you need to account for when trying to personalise your recruitment fairs, webinars and visits.
One important variable is time – something we know that you and your admissions team don’t have in abundance.
But it’s possible to tailor your events without reinventing the wheel. Personalising your events and saving yourself precious time doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ decision.
So how can this be achieved?
The first step is understanding what international students face along their application journey. But that’s just the beginning.
Then there’s the second, and arguably most important step – tailoring your events to these specific milestones.
To make things simple, we’ve selected three key milestones in an international school student’s application journey.
Read on, and we’ll share three frameworks you can use to easily adapt your events to international students, from initial research and awareness, to final application.
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Learn how BridgeU can help you align your enrolment strategy with your international student audience.
Event Type 1: Career, Subject & Faculty Related Events
One common problem that many international school students face is understanding how their career aspirations link to their potential higher education options.
Compounding this first problem is a second. International school students often struggle to make sense of how certain careers differ across countries. For example, the path to a medical career looks very different in the United States than it does in many European countries.
That’s where you come in…
What are the benefits of hosting career, subject & faculty-based events?
Career, subject and faculty-based events help international students make sense of how a subject they’re thinking of studying at university maps to a future career.
These types of events enable international students to:
- Understand the career possibilities that studying a particular subject can unlock.
- Gain awareness of how their strengths and skills map to a particular subject path
- Dispel any myths or misconceptions that either they, or their parents may have about the pros and cons of a particular career path.
Who are these events designed for?
These events are primarily aimed at students who are still in the exploratory phase of their higher education decision-making. We’d therefore suggest running these events for younger students, aged between 15 and 17 (though this is not a cast-iron rule).
What are the core components of a career, subject & faculty-based event?
We’d recommend making these events as informative as possible by focusing on the specific benefits of a particular subject or faculty.
Let’s quickly dive into the specifics of how you can make these events a success.
Talk about skills and strengths associated with this degree
Many students will lack the self-awareness to understand why they are good at a particular subject.
This, in turn, means that they may contemplate what to study at university based on a subject’s perceived prestige, or earning potential – rather than focusing on why they’re well-suited to study it.
Whenever BridgeU has curated these events with our university partners, we will encourage speakers to start by explaining what studying this subject at a higher education level may entail, and the skills and strengths necessary to thrive.
Explore subject ‘families’
Many international students may have an overarching idea of what they want to study. This could take the form of sentiments such as ‘I’m interested in engineering’ or ‘I want to be a doctor’.
But in this exploratory phase, students may lack an understanding of the different options available to them within a given subject family.
For example, while a student may express an interest in engineering, they may be unaware that this subject family incorporates chemical engineering, electrical engineering, aeronautical engineering and a whole host of other options!
Discuss career options
Students may have a number of preconceptions of what they can do with a certain degree or subject.
These types of events can help students understand how your institution and your faculty can open up a range of career options – some of which they may not have previously considered.
Let’s return to our engineering example. Students may associate this subject with, well, being an engineer!
But they may not be aware of some of the other, less obvious options that engineering could open up. Examples could include law, or product management.
It’s time to introduce your faculty!
If you’re an admissions rep, you might have been reading this section and thinking “This is all very interesting, but how does it help to convince prospective students that we’re the right institution for them?”
It’s true, career and faculty-based events aren’t perhaps the best forums to actually convert a student into an applicant. But that almost misses the point of these events.
As we’ve explained, international students are more likely to engage with a university that takes the trouble to reach out to them much earlier in their application journey – especially since the application cycle for an international student can be as long as 24-30 months long!
International school curricula are increasingly holistic in nature, with many schools that BridgeU works with choosing to focus on the whole student – from career aspiration to university application.
Career, subject and faculty-based events are a great opportunity for universities to become more active participants in their future students’ guidance curriculum.
Of course, these events don’t come with a cast-iron guarantee that students will enrol – but they’re great for generating awareness, and for integrating yourself more organically into the guidance curriculum of your prospective applicants.
Watch: Current medicine students share insights with international applicants
Event Type 2: Destination Marketing Events
If there’s one big mistake we’ve watched universities make again and again, it’s operating under the assumption that international students will already have a good working knowledge of the country, city, state or province that their prospective university is based in.
But it’s important to remember that, for an increasing proportion of international students, enrolling at a university in another country is an unfamiliar and intimidating concept, not to mention a big transition in their life!
So before you can even begin to talk up the benefits of your campus, introduce your myriad student societies, or share anecdotes about your college football team’s mascot, you need to start with something more fundamental.
What’s it actually like to study in your host country?
We call these destination marketing events – sessions that are devoted entirely to introducing your country, locality, state or province.
What are the benefits of hosting destination marketing events?
These types of events can help international students to:
- Better understand the geography, history and culture of the country or locality they’re thinking of moving to
- Learn more about how your campus fits within the wider context of its surrounding area.
- Envision your town, city or state as their new home, and increase the likelihood they’ll feel like a genuine citizen of your country.
Destination marketing events can be an effective way for your potential applicants to picture themselves living on your campus – and makes it more likely that applications will become enrolments.
Who are these events designed for?
These events are best suited for students who might be starting to actively explore potential destination countries and higher education institutions.
At BridgeU international schools, our counsellors typically work with these students in their penultimate year of high school (i.e. Grade 11/Year 12/IBDP10).
But again, there are no cast-iron rules here. Some students might be in a position to explore potential destination countries at an even younger age, in which case these events will come in handy for them too!
What are the core components of a destination marketing event?
Start with the basics
These events are a chance for you to introduce your country, and create the essential context for your prospective international undergraduates to make an informed decision.
So when we say ‘start with the basics’, we really do mean the basics. For these types of events, it’s important not to assume knowledge.
Make sure you start with some of the basic facts about your country. Even headline statistics about population size or the number of international students currently resident in your country can provide really valuable context.
It’s also a valuable opportunity to do some destination marketing – i.e. promote the unique geography, history and culture that makes your country and locality so unique (hence why we coined the phrase ‘destination marketing events’)
Give a beginner’s guide to your university system
The first major hurdle many international students face is to understand the complexities of the various international university systems – how they’re alike, how they’re different, their various entry requirements and application documents.
It can be easy to forget, but to the uninitiated international student (or school counsellor) the US university and Canadian university systems can seem very similar.
What’s more, some types of higher education are unique to particular countries. For example, while the USA, Canada and the Netherlands are three countries known to host liberal arts colleges, such institutions don’t exist in the same way in the UK.
While this might be obvious to you, this is often news to a student exploring higher education options for the first time.
So, in these events, we’d recommend giving a crash course on the intricacies of your university system. Think about how you can preempt common questions about any of the following.
- What are the key application deadlines for universities in your country?
- Do application deadlines vary by university or region, or are they uniform?
- What are different types of higher education institutions in your country?
- What are the entry requirements for universities and courses in your country?
- How does your country’s student visa system work?
- What financial aid options are available for students applying to an institution in your country?
Watch: EU universities explain the European study experience to BridgeU students
Help them make sense of their different campus options
A logical next step after you’ve explained how your country’s university system works, is to help your student audience make sense of the different campus options in your country.
The experience of being an undergraduate at a leafy liberal arts college that’s just outside a small town will be quite different from the experience of studying at a university in a big city.
But you need to go further, and help them to make sense of these options as they pertain to your country.
What separates London from Lancaster, Amsterdam from Eindhoven, New York from Nebraska? And how does the experience of your campus marry with the wider cultural experience of the region that surrounds it?
This brings us to the next must-have of your presentation…
Zone in on your region/locality & showcase their potential new home
So you’ve introduced your country, but your region/locality still has its own unique heritage, attributes and quirks!
These events are a golden opportunity to talk more generally about what makes the area surrounding your campus so unique.
Again, we have to stress the importance of not assuming knowledge with your audience. Remember that some international school students wouldn’t be able to place West Yorkshire on a map, or name the current governor of California!
Keep this info relevant to this audience. In-jokes or cultural references about a particular city or region might land well with domestic students, but make sure any anecdotes you share with an international audience don’t fall flat!
Give a high-level introduction to your institution
This is the point at which you can afford to give more of an introduction to your university or college. But, at this stage in your students’ application journey, we’d recommend keeping it high-level.
With this in mind, we’d recommend including information that builds on the story you’ve told in the presentation so far. We’d suggest information such as
- What type of institution are you (and how does this relate back to your country’s wider university system?)
- What degrees and faculties do international students typically choose your institution for?
- What’s campus life like at your institution (e.g. accommodation, student societies)
- What kind of international student support is available on campus?
These might be things you’re already used to discussing in your current events, webinars and presentations.
But the key to this type of event is putting this information at the end. For international students in the earlier stages of their application journey, we’d advise only talking about your institution after covering the more basic, contextual information first.
Event Type 3: Conversion & Enrolment Events
When it comes to the moment that they’re about to apply, or indeed enrol, the idea of studying at your institution is now something that is much more of a realistic prospect for international students.
With this in mind, conversion & enrolment events are a more suitable forum for you to talk about your institution in a lot more detail. Here’s the moment where you really can put the benefits of your university & campus front and centre!
That said, it’s still important to tailor these events to the specific questions and concerns of international students as a unique audience.
What are the benefits of hosting conversion and enrolment events?
These events are ideal if you want to:
- Answer frequently asked questions your international applicants might have about the remainder of the enrolment process.
- Promote your university’s unique offering to international students who are considering offers from multiple institutions.
Who are these events designed for?
These events are best suited to those international students who are in the midst of the application/enrolment process.
Therefore, we’d recommend running events such as this to students who are either about to apply, or are already holding offers to your institution.
Specifically, these events are most suitable for students who are in their final year of school (i.e. IBDP2/Grade12/Year 13).
What are the core components of a conversion & enrolment event?
Some of the core components of these events are similar to those of the destination marketing events we discussed in the previous section.
But here’s the crucial difference: in a destination marketing event, you’re sketching out the realities of studying in your country; conversion events are like painting the full, detailed canvas!
So, during the course of a conversion event, everything you do and say has to help give your international applicants a glimpse of their possible future – and it needs to be a compelling future!
Share the key facts & history of your institution
Remember, even at this stage, the concept of taking up a place to study at your institution is an exciting, but scary concept for many international students.
So when we say share key facts and history, don’t just share dry statistics!
Tell a story that helps to better understand your institution’s brand, its mission statement, its heritage. Talking points here could include:
- When were you founded, and by who?
- How has your campus changed and grown over time?
- Does your institution have any famous alumni? (Note: try and share alumni that students who are not native to your country will have heard of!)
Showcase your degrees and faculties
Even for students who are well on their way to applying or accepting an offer, a tour of your flagship degrees and faculties is always worth including.
Remember what we said about transporting students into their future. If you do choose to talk about degrees and faculties, try and tie them back to the lived experience of being an international undergraduate student.
For example, why not share some insights or anecdotes about some of your most notable on-campus facilities?
Are there any dance studios, science labs or renowned buildings that your university is famous for? Or can you cite any examples of your international students using these facilities to create noteworthy or even prize-winning work?
Talk students through their accommodation options
At this stage in their journey, students will, understandably, be thinking a lot about how they can make your university their home. They’ll likely be worried about the logistics of finding somewhere to live when they arrive on your campus.
So we’d recommend discussing accommodation in as much detail as possible.
For international applicants, it’s important not just to talk about the different types of housing on offer, but also to talk them through the logistics of how they can secure a place in a hall of residence or college dorm.
Again, this is a chance for you to tie accommodation back to the character and identity of your campus. How is student accommodation distributed across the campus? Which halls of residence or dorms are most favoured by international students, if at all?
Explain what support & resources exist for international students on campus
It can be easy to breeze past this during events and presentations. But remember that international students will want to know what pastoral support and welfare resources are available specifically for them.
This isn’t just a case of telling them where the international student support office is (though that’s important too!).
On a more fundamental level, remember that international undergraduate students will often need guidance when it comes to things such as how to register for a GP, or even how to open a new bank account in their host country.
Answer other logistical and orientation questions
As well as accommodation and international student support, there are a range of other logistical questions that international students often have – and which you should be prepared to answer.
- What visa documentation will they need to have to take up their place at your university/college?
- If students are coming from a different country, what reception can they expect. Is there an airport pickup that will take them to campus?
- What orientation/freshman activities have you got in store?
- What are the key dates for the start of their first semester e.g. dates for freshers’/orientation week and the commencement of classes.
Drawn up with the unique needs of international students in mind, these event types can help you ensure maximum impact with international applicants by tailoring your presentations to suit their various needs, such as:
- The application process from their home country.
- The entry requirements for the curriculum they’re studying
- Their existing awareness of your institution.
You can download your free presentation templates below. Designed to be flexible, you can customise them to fit your own brand guidelines, or and adapt them for your own events.
Click below to access your free templates.
Get in touch
Learn how BridgeU can help you align your enrolment strategy with your international student audience.