Is Your College Fair Booth International-Student Ready?

An increasing number of international students are choosing to attend high school or to pursue English language study in the U.S. to better prepare them for college and university degree study. Additionally, a larger number of international students are beginning their coursework at community colleges as a pathway to earning their bachelor’s degrees. The following tips will help you to better engage with international students during a NACAC College Fair.

Prepare an International Student “Elevator Speech”
International students at a College Fair are hoping you can tell them general information about your international admission policies, additional application requirements, and deadlines. For example, an international student may want to know what tests are required (e.g., SAT, ACT, TOEFL or IELTS) and whether he needs to achieve a minimum score to be considered for admission. Or, an international student may inquire about whether your institution requires her academic records to be translated into English or be evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation agency. You should also know the name and contact information of your college’s international admissions officer (if you have one).  

Provide an Overview of Financial Aid and Expenses 
As with domestic students, college costs are a concern among international students. International students often seek out colleges and universities that will offer them some form of institutional aid in order to make their education more affordable. It will be helpful to have information available on the typical number of international students who receive need-based or merit aid awards and the average value of those awards. A student may also want to know whether you have a need-aware admission policy for international students.

Since international students must document their finances as part of the student visa acquisition process, it is also important that you accurately estimate their expenses. In addition to tuition and fees, international students need to consider costs related to room and board, books and supplies, insurance, and personal expenses. If financial matters are handled outside of the admissions office, you should be able to refer students to someone who handles international student inquiries in the college’s financial aid office.

Describe Support Services that International Students Could Expect
It will be important to share with international students the types of programs, services, and initiatives your institution offers that are geared toward international students. This may include information on international student orientation, writing or tutoring services, ESL support, housing and dining options, student organizations, and acculturation activities. Consider reaching out to the offices or departments responsible for these services in order to provide the most comprehensive and accurate information.

Provide Information on Employment
Access to jobs and internships is an important consideration for many international students when selecting a college or university. Familiarize yourself with on-campus job opportunities afforded to international students as well as the resources made available to them through your career services office. What types of internships have international students attending your institution been able to secure? Students will also be interested in employment after graduation. What services are available to help international students secure jobs in the U.S. or their home countries?

You may want to consult with your international student services office in order to better understand the regulations that pertain to an international student’s ability to work while on a student visa.

Put Together a Brochure or Dedicated Webpage
Your brief conversation at the booth should inspire an international student to learn more. Leaving them with a handout or directing them to a dedicated webpage could keep them engaged. Contact information, admissions overviews, international student requirements, and scholarship opportunities can kindle their interest in attending your college—and if there’s room to include a couple of international student or alumni success stories, that’s even better. Given that English is a second language for many international students and their families, having something in writing is helpful. You might even consider translating some of your materials or webpages in several languages.