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Recruitment beckons move to active admissions

Admissions teams at institutions across the world need to take more of a driving seat role in recruitment activities, delegates heard at The PIE’s webinar on international admissions.

Digital recruitment activities have the possibility of reaching students that may not have engaged with in-person recruitment events, NACAC's CEO suggested. Photo: pexels

"Many students don't complete the process because of its complexity"

Speakers agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic – while it will create access issues and potentially widen some access gaps – offers interesting opportunities.

“Reducing some of the things that we actually require could encourage more students into the pipeline”

Admissions processes ought to be reconsidered, streamlined and simplified in order to ensure students find appropriate higher education course, one speaker added.

“I think that admissions officers all over the world are having to rethink how they do their job,” said Angel B. Pérez, CEO of NACAC.

Digital recruitment resources such as online fairs have the potential to reach students who normally may not have had access to institutions, while schools have the opportunity to recruit in new regions.

“I hope that as we move forward, this sort of digital space that we’re moving into does become one of the more common practices,” he told viewers during the webinar.

Additionally, simplicity in admissions processes “will help us open the doors a little bit wider”, Pérez added, as pre-coronavirus admissions processes have historically caused barriers for international students.

“Reducing some of the things that we actually require could encourage more students into the pipeline to higher education all over the world.

“There is a lot of data that shows that many students don’t complete the process because of its complexity,” Pérez concluded.

“Admissions desks need to be working more closely with recruitment operations hand in hand and take a more active role in the recruitment process,” CEO of Concourse, Joe Morrison suggested.

Institutions should reconsider the way student applicants are funnelled from recruitment teams – often via chains including subagents and agent aggregators – to the admissions desks.

“When that chain starts getting too complicated, you can have incentives to bring in applications that are not qualified for your institution because it can bring in more application fees and make you seem more selective,” Morrison hinted.

“It’s becoming more and more important for admissions to work at the end of the funnel and say, ‘these are the students we want’.”

As the ecosystem becomes more automated, virtual and complicated, we can’t build trust through in-person meetings and handshakes anymore, he highlighted.

“So you’ve got to build transparency into the systems.”

Mercy College in New York City understands SAT, ACT or GRE scores are “not the best indicator of student success”, the institution’s associate director of International Admissions Sonja Brauchle added.

She explained that Mercy is test-optional and adjusted its documentation policies and English language proficiency requirements to accept Duolingo as an approved test.

“If you’re not explaining what a student needs to provide in a very clear way that they understand, then a lot of them drop out at that point because they’re scared they can’t get the documents,” Brauchle said.

Additionally, the institution has extended deadlines, made it easier for students to defer, and updated how it can receive official documents electronically.

“Parchment doesn’t exist in every country. We are looking at lots of options to electronically verify documents, to accept them directly from counsellor’s registrars.”

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“I do think that we have to think a little bit about who the best-fit students are for us and then really go out and look for them and cultivate relationships with schools,” David Joiner, assistant director – Global Admissions at the University of California, Santa Cruz added.

There’s a lot of choices that might not be apparent to parents and counsellors, he continued.

“There are so many different great places for international students to land. I think this obsession that we have with the 50 institutions that everybody thinks are a success, that’s just really hurting the whole situation,” he said.

“We are looking at lots of options to electronically verify documents”

Grok Global has recently launched Grok Schools the company’s executive director, Southeast Asia Alex Green noted, in a bid to “fundamentally change the engagement between universities and high school students around the world”.

“We know it’s an important recruitment channel. It’s key to undergraduate recruitment, but we see very few institutions effectively delivering the type of information that students really need,” he said.

“Whether it’s handing out brochures during lunch break or a generic sales pitch presentation at a school – these are really quite ineffective ways for universities to recruit and can be, frankly, quite boring and tedious for students.

“We want to end this mismatched recruitment activity.”

Additionally, guidance counsellors are often overwhelmed with university speaking requests at the wrong time of year and with the wrong type of content, while some schools struggle to attract universities to come and speak to their students “because they’re smaller, they have smaller cohorts, they’re located off the beaten track”.

“We want to flip the role of the university in a way so that they’re providing content on-demand as part of a curriculum that supports both guidance counselling and that student decision-making process,” Green explained.

“For example, we might look at bringing a couple of institutions together to talk about the difference between a city-based and a campus-based institution, to help students understand which is the best fit for them.”

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