Instructors are not expected to market custom programs abroad. Since these programs are typically student driven and are intended for individuals rather than groups, marketing is not part of the responsibilities of custom program instructors.
Marketing Your Faculty-led Program
One of the most challenging parts of running a learning abroad program is marketing and recruitment. Marketing and recruitment is predominantly the responsibility of faculty directors. The Learning Abroad Office provides some support and resources, but the most successful programs have faculty directors that are highly engaged in recruitment. To help you get started, the Learning Abroad Office provides the following services:
- General materials on learning abroad, policies and procedures, and financial aid and scholarships
- Scheduling assistance for meetings, information sessions, and promotional events
- Coordination and promotion of the Learning Abroad Fairs
- Development of a program website
- Creation of a program flyer
- Classroom visits (depending on availability)
- Template presentation slides and a script for information sessions
Successful marketing starts with your program design. Before you begin promoting your program, you need to decide on some critical elements that will impact whether or not students choose to participate in your program. Those details include:
- Articulating Value and Learning Abroad Badges- University of Utah students ask tough questions about the value of participating in a Learning Abroad Program. Learning Abroad Badge activities can help you clearly identify and articulate the transferable value of a Learning Abroad Program. Faculty who integrate certain activities into their programs may be eligible to promote their program using a Career Development, Community Engagement, Language Immersion, or Research Badge. Contact our office for more information about Learning Abroad Badges.
- Dates- The exact program dates are critical for student interest. Dates impact students’ job prospects, family obligations, and finances. Learning Abroad policy prohibits program dates from overlapping with on-campus classes or finals. The start date of a program is defined as the date in which students check into their first program housing location. The departure date is the date on which students check out of the last program housing location. Students who choose to arrive early or stay late are responsible for making those arrangements and paying for those services independently. Summer programs should consult the academic calendar for on campus, summer courses. Many students want to take classes on campus during the summer as well as abroad. If your program conflicts with courses in a particular summer session, students may opt to stay on campus to take classes instead.
- Competition and Collaboration- Design a program that will not directly compete with existing program options. Each program has a target audience. When the same target audience has multiple program options, programs compete with each other. Design a program that will fill the needs of an underrepresented student population. To avoid competition, departments are also encouraged to collaborate on Programs instead of creating separate programs. Cross-departmental programs create inter-professional learning opportunities and help reduce the pressure to meet enrollment numbers.
- Course Offerings- Students need to know what type of credits they can earn in order to determine if the program is appropriate for their needs. Be sure to have a list of the courses available on your program. The most consistently enrolled programs are curricularly integrated. This ensures that students will fulfill graduation requirements by participating in the program and send the message that this is a departmental initiative. More information on curriculum integration can be found in the Academic Coordination chapter of this Guide. You might also consider including a course that fulfills a General Education Requirement.
- Cost- Many Faculty Directors begin recruiting before the final budget is set. Contact our office to identify an appropriate pricing estimate. It is very important that you clearly explain that the price is an estimate, not a finalized price. If we are not transparent about this, students feel misled if the price fluctuates
- Locations- Be sure that you can talk about the places your program will visit. Location is often one of the deciding factors for students in choosing a program!
Designing your program with these details in mind will create a solid foundation for your recruitment efforts and increase the long-term sustainability of your program.
Keys to Successful Marketing
Successful marketing starts with a solid program proposal.Below are some suggestions for creating a program that is likely to succeed:
- Be an ACTIVE and CREATIVE recruiter. The number 1 factor in determining program success is faculty recruiting efforts.
- Create a program that will not directly compete with existing programs. Each program has a target audience.When the same target audience has multiple program options, programs compete with each other. Design a program that will fill the needs of an underrepresented student population.
- Consider including a course that meets a general education requirement. Including coursework that fulfills not only graduation requirements for a particular major but also a graduation requirement for all students increases your target audience substantially.
- Make use of the cultural and location-based advantages of your destination. Good learning abroad programs integrate students into the community and use local resources to supplement the academic content of the course. Make sure that you highlight the aspects of this experience that students cannot have here on campus!
- Be active in your marketing efforts and communicate with interested students frequently. Faculty directors that consistently contact interested students tend to have higher program enrollment.
- Be realistic when setting enrollment goals and budgets. Our office will help you with this step, but it is important that faculty create achievable goals when preparing for a program.
- Become familiar with the application process, the Learning Abroad Handbook, and our online application system so that you can answer questions and monitor enrollments.
Suggestions for Marketing
Begin marketing your program at least 9-12 months in advance. Unless your program is full, you should continue marketing through the program application
We recommend that you learn about and take advantage of the recruitment, publicity, curriculum and administrative practices of your department's or college's programs. You may be able to duplicate the successful efforts of other program offerings in your College or Department.
We also suggest that you consider the following methods and activities for recruitment.
- CREATIVE PROGRAM DESCRIPTION- Information about your program begins with the program description you provide for the website. Provide a comprehensive program description. Remember that your target audience is students! Think about what is unique about your program from a student perspective and highlight those advantages! Keep in mind that students are typically most concerned about cost, value, uniqueness, and attractiveness of the program as it fits with their degree requirements, personal needs, and interests. Your Learning Abroad Coordinator will contact you when it is time to create or update your materials.
- PROGRAM FLYER- As part of our services, the Learning Abroad Office develops a program flyer for each program. The purpose of the program flyer is to garner interest, highlight the most important points, and direct students to the website, where they can find more details about the program. Contact us to request copies of this document for your promotional events.
- PERSONAL CONTACT- Begin communicating with interested students early and continue encouraging their interest until the program application deadline has passed. Write letters, send emails, or personally contact students who are likely to find the program interesting. Be available to counsel and assist interested students who have questions about the program. Maintain lists of prospective students including names, addresses (including email), and telephone numbers. Stay in contact periodically to determine if any perceived barriers to the student's participation might be eliminated. Email students with important information about upcoming meetings or interesting details about your program.
- INFORMATION MEETINGS- Make arrangements for and host information meetings about your program. The purpose of these meetings is to introduce prospective students to your program. Timing is important for information meetings. Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether or not the timing is good for students. Meetings scheduled before breaks and vacations are especially effective so that prospective students can discuss their options with family members. This will give us time to help you with reservations and even assist you in promoting the meeting in the Union. Instructions on scheduling an info session are found in this guide.
- SOCIAL MEDIA- Use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites to promote your program.
- PHOTOS- Students rely heavily on visual images. Each program website has a photo gallery. To post photos to your website, send JPEG images to your Learning Abroad Coordinator. If you have photos of prior participants, be sure to ask them for permission to use their images. Remember: The best photos highlight opportunities that students cannot get here on campus!
- LEARNING ABROAD FAIR- The Learning Abroad Office hosts two fairs each year (September and January). We typically reach between 200-400 potential participants through these events. Be sure to reserve a table and have your program represented at the fair. We strongly encourage you to invite former participants to assist you. The best recruiters are students!
- CLASS ANNOUNCEMENTS AND VISITS- Promote your program in classes. Share information about your program with colleagues who can make announcements in their classes. When possible, give a short presentation in relevant classes to introduce students to the program.
- DISPLAY- Create a display to put up in academic advising offices, outside your office, or on college/department bulletin boards.
- PAST PARTICIPANTS- Involve students who have previously participated in the program, especially at information meetings and in classroom presentations. Prospective students are very interested in hearing another student's perspective. The testimony of past participants is one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal!
- ACADEMIC ADVISORS- Inform and work with academic advisers who work with your target student audience. Communicate with your colleagues, including TAs, so they can help recruit.
- SPECIAL EVENTS- Attend special events on campus, especially events sponsored by your college or department. Get involved in your college/department's Academic Orientation Program to be sure your program is highlighted to incoming freshmen.
- STUDENT CLUBS- Clubs are often looking for guest speakers. Target specific student clubs that may have a particular interest in your program and ask to present on your program.
- PUBLICATIONS- Make sure your program is featured in your college/department's communication and publications (e.g. e-bulletins, newsletters, magazines).
- HIGHLIGHT BENEFITS- Encourage students to consider the multiple benefits of learning abroad: academic/intellectual, professional, intercultural, and personal.
- PROMOTE SCHOLARSHIPS- Encourage students to begin their financial planning early and apply for learning abroad scholarships.
CANVAS EVENTS- Create calendar events in your Canvas course pages to remind students about information meetings, the Learning Abroad Fair, International Movie Night, etc.
Scheduling Information Meetings
Information meetings help you organize your marketing message and provide students with an opportunity to ask questions about your program. The Learning Abroad Office provides the following services to help support information meetings:
- Develop a flyer announcing the meeting
- Promote the info session in the Union
- Contact applicants in Horizons that have started an application so that they are aware of the meeting
- Announce the info session on social media and on our website
- Schedule a room in the Union for you to hold the meeting
- Provide template slides and a script that you can customize for your program.
To take advantage of these services, the Learning Abroad Office needs to be notified of the meeting 2 weeks prior to the event. Contact your Learning Abroad Coordinator and provide the following information:
- Your name
- The name of your program
- Requested date and time of the meeting. If you would like us to reserve a room, please let us know. We can reserve rooms in the Olpin Union for your meeting. Room reservations are subject to availability. If you would like to hold your meeting in another building, let us know what room you have reserved.
- Whether or not you'd like template slides and general talking points for a learning abroad information session
Popular times for info meetings are noon, 4 pm, and 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday. Most students are not on campus on Fridays, weekends, or in the evenings. We strongly encourage faculty directors to host meetings before holidays and vacations. This enables students to gather information about the program that they can use to discuss their options with family and friends during the breaks.