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Hello out there! Today’s post is the first in a three-part series called “Welcome and Support: How Universities in Spain and Latin America Can Effectively Recruit and Support U.S. Students.” Due to the pandemic, international travel is changing every day. This is especially true for student travelers. Clear and consistent communication from a host institution is now of utmost importance. This series discusses communication strategies that universities in Spain and Latin America can use to recruit and support U.S. university students at this time and in the future. I’m a translator, so you can also expect a discussion as to how language plays a big role here. Most of these tips also pertain to universities with students arriving from other English-speaking areas like the U.K. and Canada.
In today’s post, I’ll begin with strategies to recruit U.S. university students who are considering where to study abroad. How will your university entice those students to study at your campus? Why should they choose you?
Most major U.S. universities have robust study abroad departments that assist their students in choosing a place to go for studying for a semester or a year abroad. A Spanish or Latin American university, then, must match that level of communication on their end by telling potential study abroad students about the perks of their location, courses of study, and opportunities for travel beyond the immediate campus community. I’ve found that host universities in many Spanish-speaking countries don’t always effectively promote their programs and support systems. Many U.S. students may overlook a particular university because there is a lack of clear information and support from that host institution.
It’s so important that universities in Spain and Latin America have English content on their website and ongoing marketing campaigns in English. Visit the website of a Spanish-speaking institution, and there may not be information in English. I know what you’re thinking – “Yes, but isn’t the point of studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country to become fluent in Spanish?” My answer of course, is “yes” — after a year of study in that country, that student will ideally speak Spanish and be able to navigate daily life, as well as understand a Spanish website and various documents they need access to. But at the beginning when they’re looking for a place to study abroad? And when they first arrive in a new country? Not so much!
Malwina Gorecka is Head of the International Promotion Unit for the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange. She shared a fabulous poster at this year’s NAFSA online conference, NAFSAeConnection. Her poster details how to effectively promote a university program at international education fairs. Could your institution use some of these strategies? Are all your materials in English for potential students and their families?
To wrap up, here are some questions that recruiters from Spanish and Latin American universities must ask themselves when hoping to reach U.S. students:
- Is our university attending international education fairs and events in the United States and other English-language countries? Do we have connections with U.S. universities?
- Are our marketing materials in English?
- Do we have an English-language website option that potential students and their families can read? Is the English on that website correct? (Not a good time to rely on Google Translate!)
- If a potential student has a question, is there an English-speaking staff member that the student can speak with?
- Are we prepared to explain what students can expect during this time of rapid changes to international travel?
If you work at a university and have a particular strategy to reach English-speaking students, let me know what’s worked for you! Do you want to learn more about having recruitment materials translated into English? Contact me and I’ll tell you about what types of materials have had good results for some of my clients.
In Part 2, I’ll share how universities in Spain and Latin America can better support U.S. students while those students are studying abroad. Stay tuned!
Many thanks to Malwina Gorecka for the use of her poster in this article.