Marketing and recruiting is an essential component of a successful learning abroad program. While it can be challenging, an effective recruitment effort will lay the groundwork for a successful program. At the University of Utah, marketing and recruitments is predominantly the responsibility of you, the Faculty Director.
The Learning Abroad Office is happy to provide guidance, support and resources when necessary. However, a program is more likely to be successful with a faculty directors who is highly engaged in recruitment. To help distinguish between Faculty Director and Learning Abroad Office responsibilities, see the table below:
Learning Abroad Office
Marketing Learning Abroad as an Essential Activity for Students
· General materials on Learning Abroad, Policies and Procedures, and Financial Aid and Scholarships
· Development of Terra Dotta brochure page
· Global U Expo & Spring LA Fair
· General Information Sessions
· New Student Orientation Sessions
· Other On-Campus Events
· Advise Students on Learning Abroad Processes & Procedures
· Updating & maintaining Learning Abroad Website
· General On-campus Outreach
· Creation of Program Flyers (If Requested)
· Template presentation slides and a script for information sessions.
Marketing Your Specific Program
· Classroom visits
· Individual Information Sessions
· Maintain & Update Interested Students List
· Distribution of Flyers in Department and other locations
· Email blasts to interested students
· Blogs, videos, photo galleries, posters, etc.
· Outreach to interested student groups
· Departmental channels for communicating with students (i.e. newsletters, blogs, Facebook, etc.)
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:
- Locations: Although students are not encouraged to choose programs based solely on location, it is often the deciding factor in choosing a program. Regardless of your location, be sure you can tell a student why that location is interesting, exciting and perfect for learning abroad!
- 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 advertised prices are estimates, and not a finalized price. It is important to be transparent about the cost of your program, as students may feel misled if the price fluctuates.
- Dates: Exact program dates are critical for student interest. Dates impact a student’s job prospects, family obligations, and finances among other things. 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.
- 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 Coordinationchapter of this Guide. You might also consider including a course that fulfills a General Education Requirement.
- 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 valueof 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.
- 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.
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.
You should begin marketing your program at least 9-12 months in advance. Unless your program is full, you should continue marketing through the program application deadline.
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.
It is essential that you consider implementing the following methods and activities for recruitment.
- CREATIVE PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Provide a catchy and comprehensive program description for the Terra Dotta brochure. Keep in mind that your target audience is your students. Highlight what makes your program unique from a student Keep in mind that students are typically most concerned about cost, return on investment or long-term value, uniqueness, and attractiveness of the program as it fits with their degree requirements, and their personal, academic, and professional needs and interests. Your Learning Abroad Coordinator will contact you when it is time to create or update your Terra Dotta brochure.
- 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 Terra Dotta brochure page, 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 as early as possible and continue encouraging their interest until the program application deadline has passed. Collect interested student information on interest lists. This way, you can 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. Interest lists should include students’ 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 regular 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 location of the meeting. Instructions on scheduling an info session are found in this guide.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Depending on you and your Department’s use of social media, using various social media outlets can be an effective way of promoting your programs and information meetings. The Learning Abroad office also regularly uses Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote programs and events. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to utilize Learning Abroad’s social media presence to promote your program.
- PHOTOS: You should use student centered photos when promoting your program. Each Terra Dotta brochure page has a photo gallery. To post photos to your brochure, 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 program alumni!
- CLASS ANNOUNCEMENTS AND VISITS: Once you’ve thought about your target audience, promote your program in targeted classes, including your own classes and others in the department. Share information about your program with likeminded colleagues who can make announcements in their own classes. These classroom visits can be short, minimum of 5 minutes, and can drive student traffic to pre-organized program information meetings.
- FLYER: Create a flyer to put up in academic advising offices, outside your office, or on college/department bulletin boards. Please contact email@example.com if you need help creating a flyer.
- 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. Consider attending a UAAC meeting to announce your program and hand out flyers to interested academic advisors.
- SPECIAL EVENTS: Promote your program at 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). Also, promote your program on your college/department’s social media.
- HIGHLIGHT BENEFITS: Encourage students to consider the multiple benefits of learning abroad: academic/intellectual, professional, intercultural, and personal.
- PROMOTE SCHOLARSHIPS: Cost is one of the largest obstacles for students to study abroad. The Learning Abroad office awards over $200,000 annually in OGE scholarships to students. We also advise students through other scholarships, such as the Gilman and Boren 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/Global U Expo, International Movie Night, etc.
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 one factor in determining program success is faculty recruiting efforts. Our research shows that Faculty members have the most influence over whether a student applies for a program. On-campus outreach, such as classroom visits and presentations are also effective.
- 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 may increase 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 any aspects of your program that students cannot have here on campus!
- Maintain interest lists and communicate with interested students frequently. When giving classroom presentations, be sure to collect interested student information. Faculty directors that consistently contact interested students tend to have higher program enrollment. Lay out a schedule for when to email interested students during the semester(s) leading up to your program.
- 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. The Learning Abroad office is happy to help you plan outreach for your 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.
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 meeting announcement flyer
- Promote the information session in the Union
- Contact applicants in Terra Dotta that have started an application so that they are aware of the meeting
- Announce the information session on Learning Abroad social media and website
- 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
- Date and time of the meeting
- 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.