Four Ways to Attract International Students

July 6, 2016 by Sam Slater

From CampusBird Blog

Reaching prospective students – particularly those living abroad – is no easy task.

The following post walks you through four high-level ways to think about attracting more international students. 

With the drastic cuts in state funding for universities, schools are looking to outside sources for international students who are more willing to pay sticker price for their education.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2015 international students contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy with 72% of their funding coming from sources outside of the United States. In other words, international students can make a large impact on universities.

But the motivation goes beyond simple finances. Not every U.S. college student has the ability to study abroad. Living and learning from their international cohorts gives the opportunity for cultural exchange and learning without leaving the classroom. But how do colleges add this international element to their classrooms? Here are four practical ways that can help boost your international enrollment.

Tell a story.

What better way to attract international students than to use your international alumni? Leverage the stories you have from these former students to highlight the benefits of attending your college as an international student. Create video testimonials and website content focusing on why they made their decision to study internationally and the positive effects it has had on their life. Get them to talk about the details of their experience and not just the rosy bits and pieces. This way, your prospective international students will be able to see how someone else has fit in at your school and see themselves in their shoes.

Provide a virtual campus experience.

One of the many benefits of a virtual tour of your campus is providing a way for international students to visit your campus and showcase it to family and friends. Obviously it is not easy for them to just pop over for a campus visit, but location, atmosphere, and facilities are very important decision factors when considering a school. In this way, your virtual tour gives them a way to experience all of these important details without having to fly halfway across the world.

Customize your website.

When is the last time you took an audit of your website content? Does it contain everything necessary for an international student to navigate to the correct pages and content and create a positive picture of your college? One strategy for attracting international students is a microsite for your various countries of focus for international students in their own language. This will also be the place where you can put content that is specifically focused on your international students – travel and visa information, details about on-campus international student clubs, and any other resources necessary to help students get integrated in your college’s culture.

Create community.

The number one factor that will draw students to your college, whether from overseas or right at home, is a community of current and former students promoting their experiences and encouraging prospectives to visit their alma mater. This can be done on social media or in person. Create a way for international alumni to connect with international prospects on an interactive map. That way they can see who might be near them and reach out to contact them. Have representatives from your college form relationships with counselors at international schools to create a network. Finally, be present in the social media circles where your prospective students are. Get alumni and current students to be engaged in these networks to encourage international students to apply to your school. Personal relationships are the key to gaining a greater international constituent.


International students provide a benefit not just to that student, but to the rest of your university. Your domestic students will be better able to engage as citizens in an increasingly international world and market. They will also gain appreciation for views and cultures different than their own.

Topics: Campus MapCampusBirdCollege Campus ToursInteractive 3D MapVirtual Engagement

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