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How admissions and career centers can work together to drive recruitment and enrollment

interstride logo by Interstride
December 20, 2023

International student enrollment in the US decreased from 2018 to 2021, but since then, enrollments have started to rise again. Institutions can capitalize on this uptick in international student enrollment through interoffice collaboration and adapting to prospective international students’ changing needs and behaviors. With the right strategies, higher education institutions can drive international student recruitment and enrollment for 2024 and beyond. 

Importance of admissions and career centers collaboration

Career services is a useful and underutilized tool for student recruitment and retention. According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey report from 2020, college students in the US are placing a greater emphasis on career services and career development to prove the value of a degree from a higher education institution, and career support is especially important for international applicants

A report from Interstride and NAGAP shows that the majority of students cited a better understanding of career outcomes as a factor that would affect their choice of institution. Career centers track the career outcomes of current students and alumni, so they will be able to share up-to-date, relevant data and information with admissions offices.

Shifting the ways admissions and career centers collaborate

Traditionally, at many colleges and universities in the US, admissions and career services offices work completely separately. Admissions offices interact with students during the recruitment and enrollment phases while career services interact with students who are already enrolled. 

When admissions and career centers work together, they can drive enrollment and career success for their students and alumni. This can increase the number of notable graduates from the school and the amount of donations they receive from alumni (because there will ideally be more highly paid graduates who are happy with their degree program). This benefits the school overall, can increase the admissions and career center budgets, and drive even more student recruitment. 

Benefits of admissions and career center collaboration for international students

Here are some ways an admissions and career center partnership benefits current and future international students:

  • It demonstrates the return on investment (ROI) of education: Sharing career outcomes during the recruitment process helps prospective international students and their parents calculate the ROI of a US college degree. ROI shows prospective students that the school is committed to not just providing quality education but to helping students translate that education into real-world experience.
  • It ensures staff throughout campus are better able to support international students’ needs: Admissions staff will be better equipped to answer questions on career-related topics, such as visa restrictions and internships instead of referring candidates to other offices for answers.
  • It helps prospective international students find the best-fit school(s) for them: Collaborating can help admissions representatives paint a more vivid student journey and tell a story for prospective students about how they’ll grow personally, academically, and professionally.
  • It ensures international students feel supported from admissions through graduation and beyond: Highlighting the career center shows students that they are going to have personalized guidance throughout their time at your school. This is particularly important for international students, who face unique challenges in a new country and an unfamiliar educational system and job market. 

How admissions and career centers can partner to drive international student enrollment

Below are the top strategies we recommend for admissions and career services collaboration:

Focus on career readiness

Illinois Tech increased its first-year student enrollment by 25% by focusing on career readiness and engaging students through hands-on experiences and personalized mentorship. If your school uses internships or experiential learning programs as an integral part of its academic programs, make sure to highlight them in marketing materials and presentations to prospective students to help them see a direct pathway between their education and career goals.

Helping students gain awareness of career resources and opportunities in the US early in their academic journey is also key to career readiness. Make sure the career services office is available during new student orientation and that incoming students receive information about it before they step foot on campus. This is especially important for international students as they take advantage of career centers less than domestic students due to unfamiliarity with the service, according to research from 2016. 

Use career outcomes data as a selling point for recruitment 

Job and internship outcomes can be a powerful selling point for a school, so providing prospective students and their families with career outcomes data in marketing materials is crucial. When possible, share overall outcomes but also parse out data for non-US citizens or permanent residents. Relevant data could include:

  • What percentage of students had internships? How many internships did they complete on average? Where did they complete internships?
  • How many students had jobs during their studies?
  • What percentage of students were employed full-time after graduation? Who were the top employers who hired them?
  • What are the average salaries for recent alumni in different disciplines?

Promote career development opportunities and relevant job market information

Many international student prospects are completely unfamiliar with the US job markets, as well as restrictions on working and interning while in the US. This partnership can help admissions teams answer questions about on-campus and/or off-campus employment while on an F-1 student visa and address other top concerns for international students regarding career services and working in the US.

  • Stay up-to-date on the school’s career resources for international students so that you can proactively share them with prospects.
  • Promote career development events that the career center hosts such as workshops, networking events, and job fairs. 
  • Inquire with career center professionals about what questions international students ask most so that you can share trendy information with prospects. 
Interstride Tip! Example messaging for prospective students: “While we’re in a rural college town, most of our international students take full-time offers in the closest big city in the state. We have a ton of recruiters coming on campus for positions open to international students. These are national companies so while they’re often looking for interns for the local office, you have plenty of opportunities to leverage that into future opportunities in other cities as well.”

Share student success stories 

Recruitment and marketing strategies need to include a personal element to be effective. According to the 2022 QS International Student Survey, hearing stories from current international students can play a major role in the college selection process. If you partner with the career center, you get to tap into a whole host of international student and alumni stories about how their experience at your university helped them land an internship or get a full-time position somewhere in the US. 

You might want to feature international student stories on the admissions website or brochures. The school’s marketing team can also use quotes, photos, and video or audio clips that you collect from students and alumni in their digital recruitment content.

Final thoughts on admissions and career centers collaboration

Through an admissions and career centers partnership, both entities can gain a more holistic understanding of the needs of students in their institutions and help bolster student success.

Interstride can help your institution’s admissions and career centers collaborate and support international students. Our admissions platform easily connects prospective students from anywhere in the world with student ambassadors and admissions representatives. Current students can use Interstride’s seamlessly integrated career services to build a professional network, find international-friendly jobs and internships, and learn about visa options. 

Interstride designed these platforms specifically with international students in mind. Let us help you effectively attract, engage, and retain more international students and increase your institution’s reputation and career outcomes.