Sunday, February 13, 2011

Student Recruitment by U.S. Colleges in Northeast Asia

An article in The New York Times caught my eye this morning.   It was entitled "Recruiting in China Pays Off for U.S. Colleges," and there are several reasons I was drawn to it.  First, the story centered on recruitment activities by Grinnell College in Iowa, a small liberal arts school with some strong similarities to St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota, where I did my undergraduate study.  Second, the story touched on some issues in student recruitment by U.S. colleges and universities in Asia, an area that was a big part of my responsibilities during the years I worked with the Fulbright Commission in Seoul.
Grinnell is just one of countless American colleges and universities that are seeing an increased number of applications from China, given its booming economy.  As the article notes, this comes at a time when many U.S. schools, especially public universities, are experiencing severe financial difficulties and budget cuts.
One of the issues faced in recruitment of students from China also comes into play in recruitment of students from South Korea to study in the U.S.   As the article notes, many Chinese applicants submit glossy color brochures that contain essays written by or with significant assistance from commercial study abroad agencies.  Along with the role of commercial test-preparation agencies in helping to produce high scores on the TOEFL or other English tests, complicates matters for admissions officers and committees at the U.S. colleges and universities.
The article also notes the importance of recruiting tours of China by Grinnell and other colleges.   By providing an opportunity to meet face-to-face with prospective students and their parents, such tours can help to offset the challenges posed by professionally-prepared essays and English test scores that may be somewhat inflated.
One factor not mentioned in the article is the pervasive new role of the internet in international recruitment.  The rapid convergence of digital media around the internet is opening up a new realm of virtual study fairs, live video conferencing and social networking that is literally re-writing the rules of study abroad recruiting.
Another important factor in college and university recruitment strategies has especially strong relevance for the Northeast Asia countries--China, Korea and Japan.   It is what I originally stated , with Korea in mind, as "Larson's Law on Localization."  The law goes as follows:

To effectively promote a school or other educational products and services in Korea, all key promotional information should be translated into Korean and adapted to local media patterns.

No comments:

Post a Comment