U.S. Prep Schools and Colleges Step Up International Recruitment Efforts

April 06, 2010 12:32 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
International students have become increasingly prevalent at prep schools in the U.S., while colleges and universities scramble to entice foreign applicants.

Who Pays for Prep School?

The presence of students from overseas is not a new phenomenon, Michael Alison Chandler reports for The Washington Post. But U.S. schools’ international recruiting efforts, particularly to entice “East Asian students capable of paying full fare,” have become more “aggressive.”

According to Chandler, “More private schools are posting ads in foreign newspapers, redesigning their Web sites in multiple languages and taking part in recruiting fairs” to convince international students to hop overseas for high school. For many Asian students, degrees from Western schools and fluency in English are considered crucial to a successful future, despite the financial costs.
Parents must foot bills into the “tens of thousands of dollars a year for tuition and living expenses,” but international students are also a strain on schools, financially and otherwise. Chandler reports that some private schools “provide extensive English-language training and support” for international students.

Colleges’ International Recruitment Efforts

Colleges are also stepping up their efforts to recruit international applicants. In an interview with Karin Fischer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Meghan J. Pace discussed her challenges as a recruiter for Angelo State University, which is affiliated with the Texas Tech University system.

Pace tells Fischer one of her greatest hurdles is representing a school without “a well-known worldwide name.” But Pace points out that Angelo State makes up for its lack of exposure with a few key “selling points,” such as affordable tuition ($13,450), scholarship opportunities for international students and small class sizes. In addition, the local community provides “an excellent host-family program of volunteers,” Pace told Fischer. 

Other colleges have begun outsourcing their international recruitment efforts, hiring “private agents working on commission for every student they send back to the U.S.,” Jack Stripling reports for Inside Higher Ed. But the practice “still causes some squeamishness across higher education” in the U.S., despite its acceptance in Britain and Australia. Stripling reports that the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) is working to establish “standards of best practices for international recruiters.”

Related Topic: Study abroad trends

According to Karin Fischer, in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, data provided by the Institute of International Education showed “an all-time high” of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in 2008, “capping three consecutive years of vigorous growth.”

But the data featured in “the annual ‘Open Doors’ report” could gloss over “potentially worrisome trends.” Fischer explains that U.S. graduate programs “typically rely more on international students,” but the boom in foreign students happened “at the undergraduate level.” Furthermore, the enrollment spike for undergraduate programs “was largely dependent on enrollment from China.”

Meanwhile, U.S. students appear to be branching out, studying abroad in South America, China and Europe, USA Today reported in November 2008.

The trend has prompted some to wonder whether U.S. students’ presence abroad might improve American relations with foreign adversaries.

Reference: Planning for international study

Participating in a study abroad program can enhance your college years. FindingDulcinea recommends seven of the best online resources for learning more about study abroad programs.

Although classes at an international university can be challenging, experiencing the local cuisine can introduce students to a country’s real culture. Whether you’re at a food market, birthday dinner or learning to cook homemade pasta, local recipes can teach you about daily life, Mollie Caselli of GulliverGo writes.

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