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Admissions recruits Asian students

Jenae Schmidt, coordinator of undergraduate international admissions, recently returned from a month long recruiting trip to Asia.

It’s the third year the University has undertaken such a trip, and this year Schmidt had an extended itinerary. She attended college fairs and interviewed potential applicants in India, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

She traveled with an education agency that gathered 25 people for meetings in India and about 35 people for stops in northeast Asia. In Southeast Asia, she traveled alone.

“It’s a very eye opening trip,” Schmidt said. “I see what other colleges and universities are doing, and I see what schools abroad are doing in terms of international recruiting.”

International Student and Scholar Services had contacted current international students to let them know about Schmidt’s travel plans and encourage them to tell their friends and families about the college fairs.

In Vietnam, a student’s father and a Binghamton graduate joined Schmidt at the University’s table for a college fair. Counting her translator, Schmidt then had three native speakers at her table in Hanoi. She ran out of fliers and business cards and even gave away all 150 copies she had made of a handout.

“The family being there and the alumnus being there made the difference,” she said.

It’s the first time the University has visited Vietnam for recruiting. “The economy there is changing,” Schmidt explained. “More and more people have the funds to enroll at Binghamton or another school in the U.S.”

Students in Asia are quite brand conscious, she said. They also worry about being able to afford American tuition. Many tell her they don’t want to be the only person from their country on campus, but they also don’t want to be part of a crowd. They’re interested in safety and in transportation, especially to New York City.

Parents, meanwhile, are concerned about quality and often focus on rankings of American schools. The Northeast’s cold climate is an issue, too. Schmidt said it can be hard to stand out among the 4,000 colleges and universities in this country.

“In Korea we are held in extremely high regard,” she said. “Their perception of public universities is very good.” Students in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia were less familiar with Binghamton.

Schmidt said she’s encouraged when she meets students who ask her questions about the University that show they’ve done some research.

“You know that they’re inquisitive and they’re going to fit in with Binghamton students,” she said. “The classrooms here are demanding and you want them to be able to compete with that.” Schmidt said she generally has few concerns about the students’ English skills. “A lot of students are from specialized schools where the instruction has been in English since at least middle school,” she said. “So the language skills are very strong.”

The Asian trip is the only international recruiting trip the University makes for now, Schmidt said. That’s at least in part because it’s the biggest growth area for international enrollment.

Schmidt said she believes the market for international students is getting more competitive, as schools in Australia and the United Kingdom join American institutions in recruiting efforts. In that environment, she said, meeting someone from a given university can make all the difference in a student’s decision about where to study.

“The Web is important, but face-to-face interaction is even more important,” she said. “I think it’s vital we continue to do this.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08