7 Tips to Support International Students from an American University Expert

By: Verbit Editorial
Close-up image of a person typing on a laptop.

As university leaders struggle to raise enrollment rates from the 72% decrease experienced this year, many are turning to international students. Verbit hosted a live webinar with guest speaker Julie Merendino, Assistant Director of International Admissions of American University to provide our audience with insights on how to attract and retain these students.

16% of undergraduate students and 13% of graduate students are internationals at American University. With COVID-19 restrictions and more virtual learning opportunities, making international students feel as part of the campus community as possible is more important than ever.

Here are 10 things you should consider with regard to international students as shared by Merendino live in the webinar:

1. Provide Each Student with a Tailored Experience:

Tailoring the experiences of each individual student is crucial to the admissions process. “It’s not one size fits all. With all sorts of different voices and perspectives in the classroom, we’re making sure we send out personalized communications as much as possible,” said Merendino. Crafting emails with specific action items and providing sessions with translation to the students’ native language are some effective strategies.

2. Include Their Family in the Process:

Parents and close family members often play a key part in a student’s final decision to study abroad. “It can be daunting to be in a different country and far away from your family and your community,” said Lindsay Tulloss, Customer Success Manager, Verbit. International parents are often involved in the students’ application process, so providing them with a point of contact to reach out to for support is key to ensuring that admissions needs are met.

3. Continue to Account for Remote Learning Needs:

While some COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, many international students are still learning remotely. “Schools are still investing in making their education accessible and available to those international students that have to continue learning remotely,” said Tulloss. Universities are supporting online students by offering different ways to engage online, such as providing transcription for course video so they have the opportunity to review video in a written format as notes for studying.

4. Use Diverse Communication Strategies:

Using multiple types of communication during the enrollment process has proved beneficial to American University’s admissions process, helping bridge visa or application issues that students often face. “We have targeted emails and webinars that go out to our parents, as well as newsletters that go to school counselors. We like to include that information in a newsletter to keep them updated, making sure that everybody knows they have a touch point,” said Merendino.

5. Make Office Hours for ‘Check Ins’ Mandatory:

Office hours can help provide students with the ability to connect with their professors and develop interpersonal relationships outside of the classroom. “At AU, it’s something that’s actually required for all first-year students in their first semester when they take the transitions class,” said Merendino. “One of the assignments is to go to a professor’s office hours and write a journal entry about your experience to share with others.”

6. Implement Tools for Greater Student Support:

For live events, webinars or virtual meetings, using tools like the live captioning Verbit offers to other universities can help make sessions more engaging for students and their families. “Our ultimate goal is to continually make the process more inclusive and accessible for students,” said Merendino. “It’s very helpful to have live captioning because, maybe you speak English incredibly well, but it’s coming at you too fast. Captioning is so helpful as an extra support, because you’re also sent a script that you can review afterwards.”

A promotional banner of Verbit webinar Including and Supporting International Students

7. Assign International Student Buddies:

Providing students with a peer they can talk to during the admissions process helped American University’s students feel more connected on campus. “A core part of our current international students volunteered to be part of our recruitment process. They reach out to students for one-on-one contact and sometimes lead small virtual groups,” said Merendino.

Paving the Path for International Student Success

Setting up international students with buddies, effective tools, open communication and more will help them feel heard and supported.

You can view the full webinar on-demand here to dive deeper into these tactics.

Verbit can also serve as an unmatched resource for your international students, helping to power their live classes, course videos and more with captioning and transcription that will allow them to participate in classes more effectively, as well as translations of class transcripts to ensure they fully comprehend their material. Reach out to us today.