Before you begin recruiting, you need to decide on some critical basic elements that will impact whether or not students choose to participate in your program: dates, course offerings, and cost. Details related to these topics are addressed in this guide and should be given your first attention.
Begin marketing your program at least one year in advance. Unless your program is full, you should continue marketing through November (winter break and spring semester programs), February (spring break programs), or May (summer, fall and academic year programs).
Become acquainted with the recruitment, publicity, curriculum and administrative practices of your department's or college's previous study abroad offerings, particularly those of the previous year. If the program was successful, which of these recruitment strategies would you like to duplicate? If the program was canceled due to insufficient applicants, what should you do differently?
Here are some great ways to recruit for your program:
Enter and edit written program information via the “Program Profile” within the Study Abroad Faculty Portal. Remember that students are the target audience, and that they will be most concerned with issues of value and uniqueness as it fits with their degree requirements and personal needs and interests. When listing the program course(s), make sure that the sponsoring departments have approved the course offering(s) and list both the course code and title with the amount of credits for each class.
Make arrangements for and attend Information Meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to introduce prospective students to general aspects of studying abroad and the particulars of your program. Two or more meetings should be held no later than the semester prior to your study abroad program. Meetings before breaks are especially effective so that prospective participants can discuss plans with their families. Contact OSA at least two weeks before the desired meeting date so that publicity can be arranged.
Develop your own website for your program. Make sure that the wording on your site, particularly with regard to dates, costs, deadlines, etc., is the same as that on the OSA website (use the URL at the bottom of your flyer if you wish to link to your OSA page). You may wish to include a continuously updated FAQs section with items such as a program itinerary to answer questions from both students and parents. To view examples of websites created by study abroad program leaders, visit the following:
Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networking sites to promote your program.
Photos can enhance the promotion of your program in printed materials, at information meetings, on the Web, at the Study Abroad Fair and more. Be sure to ask for permission from students before taking photos to be sure they are agreeable to having their image used to promote your program (most will be flattered!). Select photos of students in a that best show what your program is all about. Use both group shots and individuals for the best result.
Participate in the annual Study Abroad Fair held each September at the Breslin Center. This is the largest event sponsored by the Office of Study Abroad and has been highly successful over the past two decades with an average attendance of 3,000 to 4,000 students.
Announce your program in class. Share information about your program with colleagues who can make announcements in their classes.
Create a display to put up in academic advising offices, outside your office, or on college/department bulletin boards.
Write letters, send emails, or personally contact students who are likely to find the program of interest. (Please note that OSA funds or program funds are not available for direct/bulk mailings.) Be available to counsel and assist interested students who have questions about the program or about the academic implications.
Involve students who have previously participated in the program, especially at information meetings. 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!
Inform and work with academic advisers who advise your target student audience. Communicate with your colleagues, including TAs, so they can help recruit.
Attend special events on campus, especially events sponsored by your college or department (e.g. Fall Welcome). Get involved in your college/department's Academic Orientation Program (AOP) planning to be sure your program is highlighted to incoming freshmen during the summer.
Target specific student clubs that may have a particular interest in your program.
Contact The State News to see if they can write an article about your program.
Make sure your program is featured in your college/department's communication and publications (e.g. e-bulletins, newsletters, magazines).
Encourage students, in your promotional efforts, to consider the multiple benefits of studying abroad: academic/intellectual, professional, intercultural, and personal.
Set up an ANGEL site (angel.msu.edu) to keep students engaged and excited after they have applied.