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Hello again! I hope this finds you well as we head into summer here in Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Today’s post is the second in a three-part series called “Welcome and Support: How Educational Institutions in Spain and Latin America Can Effectively Recruit and Support U.S. Students.” As I mentioned in the first part of this series, international travel is changing every day due to COVID-19, and this directly affects student travelers that plan to study at a university abroad. 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. Much of what’s discussed will also pertain to students arriving from Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking countries.
For this second post, I’m sharing ways that universities in Spain and Latin American can successfully support their international students who speak English. Many partner organizations that work with universities, such as ASEPROCE in Spain and UDUAL in Latin America, detail how they expect member schools to support international students.
I speak from first-hand experience. Don’t get me wrong, when I studied abroad in Spain as a college student, it was imperative that I jump in and use my Spanish to meet professors and other students, find an apartment, and navigate my way around. I loved every minute of that (mostly). That being said, my cohort was offered Spanish classes during our first month in-country, and we were connected with local college students who could show us around and answer questions, such as: Which neighborhoods are student-friendly? Where do I go if I get sick? Are there student discounts at certain businesses? Knowing there was someone I could reach out to was really helpful.
At the recent NAFSA online conference, three directors of International Admissions and Student Services from Drexel University, Boston University, and Indiana University shared actions that work well on their campuses. Here are four strategies they’ve put into place:
- Send both automated and personalized emails to students before and during their study abroad experience at your university.
- Consider offering a virtual meeting event in May for students coming to your campus in the fall. Introduce them to the people they will connect with once they on arrive.
- Make sure that other offices on campus are aware of the challenges that international students may face. Tell the people who work in those departments who they should refer international students to.
- Consider having one person who is the main point of contact for international students and scholars to receive quick and consistent advising.
If you’re looking for an idea of what type of activity to offer students when they first arrive and are getting settled, consider following the language and culture orientation model that some universities use: Students spend a few days in their host city, accompanied by local experts and language teachers, practicing the language and learning more about the local culture.
I hope some of these tips help you to think of effective ways to support the English-speaking students at your university. Let me know if you do anything that works particularly well on your campus!
Have you heard about the projected 2025 “enrollment cliff”? Future enrollment is a hot topic right now at universities around the world. My third and final post in this series will be about how to maintain contact with your international alumni so that they remain connected to your institution — and are more likely to recommend your university to future study abroad students from the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, thus having a positive effect on your enrollment.
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