Prospective international college students and their families want to ensure that they make the best decision when choosing a university. They are interested in learning and evaluating schools based on a wide range of criteria including cost, quality of education, community, post-graduation employability, and more. International students who are coming from across the world want to guarantee they’re going to a reputable university in the US.
Because international prospects face unique challenges when applying to colleges in the US, more universities are starting to use student ambassadors in the admissions process to represent schools. University ambassadors can share first-hand experiences and unique insight for those considering their university. Student ambassadors can advocate for the school to potential international students making them a powerful asset for increasing student enrollment.
What are student ambassadors?
University ambassadors are current students who serve as the voice of their school to prospective students and their families. These student volunteers provide an authentic glimpse into what being a student at that school is really like from academics to social life. They can answer questions, reassure, and guide students throughout their entire admissions journey. University ambassadors can even share details such as how to build community as an international student and the best restaurants near campus. This helps ease international students in their preparation for and transition to college and makes them feel welcome before they even arrive.
What do student ambassadors do?
The responsibilities of a student ambassador vary depending on the program and the time of year. Common tasks of university ambassadors include:
- Giving presentations to prospective students and families
- Contacting prospective students
- Responding to questions from prospective students and families
- Leading campus tours
- Assisting with orientation for new students
Benefits of a student ambassador program
Now more than ever, prospective international students want to connect with current international students to learn about the school and determine if it’s the right fit for them. Admissions offices looking to increase international student enrollment will find a university ambassador program beneficial. Ambassador programs have numerous benefits for current and prospective students as well.
1) Build trust and nurture relationships
Student ambassador programs are effective because they provide opportunities for honest and genuine peer-to-peer interaction in person or online. Unlike traditional marketers, ambassadors are not reading from a script. They are speaking from their own lived experiences. Student ambassadors go beyond simply answering questions. They provide realness about what it’s like on campus each day to help prospective international students feel more connected to the university.
University ambassadors who take the time to engage consistently with international students and their parents can help them feel more connected to the university. Throughout the application and orientation process, a university ambassador can check in regularly with students and provide support as needed. This is especially important for international students because the admissions process for US schools can be unclear and intimidating.
2) Showcase diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are becoming more prominent selling points for prospective university students, and with good reason. Research shows that diversity in higher education promotes critical thinking, innovation, and growth. University ambassador programs are an excellent opportunity to highlight the diversity of the student body rather than just talking about it.
Furthermore, international students want to know they will be welcomed at their university of choice. Admissions offices can help with this by matching student ambassadors with prospective international students from their home country. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred animosity towards foreigners in the US, and the number of new international students, particularly those from China, is decreasing. Having student ambassadors from the student’s home country can ease the fears that prospective students and their families have around belonging and safety at their US university.
3) Improve your digital marketing and engagement strategy
Student ambassadors have gone through the admissions process themselves and may have valuable insights on what can be improved. They can also provide university staff with direct feedback from international prospects and the questions applicants are asking in order to optimize the university’s marketing and engagement strategy.
Charlotte Cripps, Head of Video at IDP Connect, says: “’Having students from specific markets talk about their university experiences can be an extremely powerful tool. Not only can other students from relevant markets relate to their experiences, but they are also able to easily gather insightful information.”
Traditionally, student ambassadors connected with prospective students in-person through college fairs and tours. Now, there are more opportunities for student ambassadors to engage with potential students online. They can create social media content, lead virtual tours, and have conversations with prospective students in different countries. This is especially valuable for prospective undergraduate students as Gen Z spend much of their time online and seek authenticity in their digital interactions. Leveraging student ambassador programs is an untapped tool that should be a part of your university’s digital marketing plan.
4) Provide leadership opportunities for existing students
Student ambassador programs are mutually beneficial to the university and the participating students. The program adds value to the student ambassador’s own college experience and helps to boost their resume.
By participating in the program, university ambassadors gain:
- Leadership experience
- Communication skills
- Experience representing a brand
- An opportunity to give back to new students
- Connections to other international students
A new solution for boosting international student enrollment
With a student ambassador program, prospective international students can connect with current students from different programs or graduation years, and they can even connect with people from their home country. University ambassadors act as guides for new students, helping them navigate their new school and build a sense of belonging. As a leader in the international student space, Interstride can help you engage and convert the international student prospects into enrolled students. We make it easy to guide international students through every part of their admissions journey and show them that they are valued and cared for at your school.