A report from student support service Interstride has recommended that US universities need to offer guidance “proactively” to international students and understand the “challenges they face”.
The “Can a better admissions experience increase international student enrollment?” report delves into how international students applying the US see the admissions process, and what institutions could do to streamline it further.
“Most universities rely heavily on their website to dispense complex information to prospective students, but websites are not the most appealing format for milennials, and gen-Z,” Nitin Agrawal, Interstride’s CEO, told The PIE News.
“Websites are neither engaging nor interactive, and they don’t provide meaningful engagement data to university admissions offices,” he continued.
Surveying 476 students from 38 countries, one of the report’s key findings directly addresses this – prospective students are heavily relying on university websites to get the information they need and follow the processes.
“Selecting the right college for the course I wanted to pursue was quite a challenge since the factors were different, rankings were different and the employment statistics were different for different colleges too,” one student said in response to the survey.
“Websites are neither engaging nor interactive, and they don’t provide meaningful engagement data”
Another student said the visa process was “confusing, with many things unknown” – and suggested a walkthrough of what was required would be beneficial.
“Not only is there need for more support, there’s a need for specific, relevant support that actually addresses students’ top concerns,” Judy Chen, go-to-market and strategic partnerships at Interstride told The PIE.
Other findings included the fact that most students looking to study in the US were not so much looking at rankings websites like QS or looking through LinkedIn, but rather US news outlets.
Over half the students surveyed – 57% – also said they needed more information on career outcomes.
“More legal information about F-1 visa, CPT, and OPT,” one student recommended when talking about admissions offices priorities.
Turning to recommendations, the report went back to the vital need for turning to students to find out what they need most.
“By better understanding international students’ unique challenges, they can better support them, and influence their choices of schools,” Chen said.
“Better overall support from the institution is needed – over 50% of respondents cited this as a factor that would have influenced their choice of institutions,” she added.
It also suggested that improvements to digital outlets, such as websites, would help students feel more at ease when applying to institutions.
“With increasing digital presence among prospects, it’s a no-brainer for admission offices to enhance their digital presence by offering a platform experience, and the best way to do it is by procuring technology that can engage prospects as opposed to building and maintaining the technology in-house,” Agrawal added.