Diversifying Your International Student Recruitment Strategy: Virtual Student Fairs
US institutions of higher education have a number of international student recruitment options at their disposal, depending upon their budget, including the use of education agents (in most cases), armchair methods, helicopter marketing events (e.g., fairs, high school outreach, information sessions) and long-term, in-country representation. One example of armchair recruitment is virtual student fairs.
In addition to all of the in-country events, mostly in the major cities, Vietnamese young people who are thinking about studying in the US have yet another useful source of information at their disposal: the Hobsons Virtual Student Fairs (VSF) on Saturday, 9 March 2013. This is part of an Asia VSF.
The VSF is free and open to students from across Vietnam who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s or a graduate degree at a U.S. university. Much like a traditional student fair, the VSF features booths staffed by university representatives. But because the fair takes place online, it is much more accessible and convenient for students to attend; all they need is an Internet connection. This is not an issue in Vietnam, which has an Internet penetration rate of 35%.
In the virtual fair environment, Vietnamese students will be able to view photos and videos of the U.S. universities, download materials, and chat live with admissions officers, professors, and current students. The booths at the fair are segmented by level—undergraduate and graduate—so students can easily find the schools that offer the degrees they’re looking for. Parents and counselors are also encouraged to attend the free event to learn about participating U.S. colleges and universities.
The VSF will be “open” from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on 9 March. Visitors should expect to spend 1.5–2.5 hours visiting the virtual booths and chatting with university staff and, in some cases, students. As a bonus, the exhibit hall will remain open for repeat visits for 90 days. While university staff will not be available for chat during this time, all of the videos, photos, and text documents will still be there to review and download. This will give students the flexibility to go back for another look at a school they liked, or even to visit for the first time, if they weren’t able to participate in the live event.
In addition to the Asia VSF, there will be fairs in the Middle East and Africa on 23 March 2013 and Latin America on 27 April 2013. US colleagues who would like more information about these events should contact Daniela Locreille, Hobsons Director of Student Marketing, at 513.985.4186 or via email at daniela.locreille[AT]hobsons.com. Be sure to ask for references so that colleagues who participated in the past can tell you about their “return on investment” in terms of international student inquiries.
Note: My company, Capstone Vietnam, is proud to be Hobsons’ Vietnam partner for this event.