Member View: How to Appeal to International Students Despite the Political Climate

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NACAC Member Milyon Trulove believes that his school has found the magic recipe for recruiting international students in the current political climate.

Trulove’s school, Reed College (OR), relies on international students to make up 8 to 9 percent of each incoming class and rumblings from guidance counselors at international high schools and internal projections following the 2016 election had the school worried.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Trulove, Reed’s vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, shared the strategy that brought the college a record number of international students for the upcoming school year.

“We knew that there was something we needed to do,” he said.

The first step Reed took was to push back all deadlines for international applicants. This gave the school time to work on showing potential students that it was a welcoming environment and gave students time to respond.

But the real game-changer was a letter sent directly to all prospective international applicants from John Kroger, the college’s president.

The letter not only told potential students about Reed as a school, but it told them that the U.S. government does not speak for the school’s administration or student body.

“Recent shifts in policy regarding travel to the U.S. are in direct conflict with our desire to bring together at Reed thinkers from a broad range of nations, faiths and races to pursue shared intellectual passions and exchange their ideas,” Kroger wrote in the letter.  “It also deeply offends Reed community values with respect to tolerance, religious freedom, human dignity, and freedom to travel.”

Trulove said this bold stance had an immediate impact on the types of inquiries the school received.

Check out the full story on Reed College at Inside Higher Ed and read about another university’s efforts to make international students feel welcome in the summer edition of The Journal of College Admission.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

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