IIE Networker - Fall 2011 - (Page 33)

INNOVATIVE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT RECRUITMENT STRATEGIES REAP-International: Global Student Ambassadors Who Reap What Is Sown By Adria Baker There are multiple factors involved in attracting international students to one’s university or college. Many “soft” marketing tools, such as cost, reputation, and ranking, play a role in bringing in international students. Nonacademic factors that influence prospective students’ decisions include the school’s location, the weather, and potential opportunities to engage in the campus and community life. However, these factors alone will not necessarily attract top students from around the globe. From my perspective, recommendations from friends, family, colleagues, and social and academic networks are far more influential for students seeking the right match for their educational experience than signs or advertisements that indicate what universities have to offer. With this in mind, Rice University created and developed the innovative REAP-International program for attracting students to its campus. Capitalizing on Good “Word of Mouth” REAP-International is a program from Rice University that engages degreeseeking international students to serve as university “ambassadors” for the school. The primary objective of REAP, which is an acronym for “Rice Experiences Advertised to Prospects Internationally,” is to increase Rice University’s visibility to prospective students overseas. In essence, the program creates opportunities for the university’s own students to spread positive word-of-mouth around the globe. The REAP-International program was modeled after the holiday visits program, in which U.S. students give presentations at their high schools during vacation periods. The purpose is similar, but the parameters are different. Degree-seeking international students at Rice University are encouraged to visit at least two places during their travels back to their home country. The visits may include giving a presentation about their experiences at Rice University in either: (1) their home high school; (2) a university; (3) an overseas advising center, such as one run by EducationUSA; or (4) a bi-national center where standardized entrances tests are offered. The student “ambassadors” ma ke the contacts and arrangements ahead of time and then register their requests. Through an electronic program that has been created to communicate automatically between the student and the international office, students can sign REAP visit requests and approval forms with ease online. An honorarium is given to the student ambassadors once they have made at least two visits and have written a short final report. Meeting Marketing Objectives This kind of outreach meets many objectives for developing an effective recruitment plan. In general, this plan would: (1) be cost-efficient and effective; (2) directly meet and understand the target market; (3) have participants who speak Dr. Shyam “Benny” Kadali (left), recent graduate in chemical and biomolecular engineering, made multiple REAP visits and presentations throughout India. 33

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2011

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Celebrating 10 Years of the Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
Multimedia Narratives as Innovative Components to Reentry Programs
When the Going Gets Tough: International Recruitment amid Budget Cutbacks
REAP-International: Global Student Ambassadors Who Reap What Is Sown
Trends in Transparency: Effects on International Student Recruitment
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Fall 2011