Dickinson College Makes International Students Feel Welcome from a Distance

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Samantha Brandauer, Associate Provost and Executive Director at The Center for Global Study and Engagement at Dickinson College joined the podcast to discuss Dickinson’s “Study Abroad at Home” initiative and how they’re designing welcoming solutions for their international students during this unwelcome year.

It's been really important for us tobe innovative and think creatively about how we continue to work with our international studentpopulation. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professionaldevelopment podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcomeback to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Samantha brand,our associate pro post and executive director at the Center for Global Study and engagementat Dickinson College. Sam, welcome to the show. Thanks so much forhaving me. Eric. Really excited to talk with you today about making ourinternational students feel welcome even at a distance.

Before we dig into that, canyou give the listeners a little bit of background on both Dickinson College andyour roles? They're sure so. Dickinson college is a highly selective liberal artscollege in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We are twenty three hundred undergraduate students. Wehave a very large global footprint for a college, a Liberal Arts College ofour size. So we send about close to seventy percent of our students willstudy of campus and we're about thirteen percent international students and we have a lotof exchange students and international visiting faculty as well. So we're a very globalizedcampus and the Center for Global Study and engagement is really the focal point wheresort of all of this activity comes from. So we deal with campus internationalization effort, study abroad and the support of our international student and scholar population.That background is so helpful, especially understanding...

...how big a proportion of your studentbased currently is international students. To kick us off today, Sam, canyou give us just a high level overview on the current difficulties and potential unwelcomenessthat our international students may be feeling right now in this pandemic, especially givencurrent federal policies toward international travel and in international students themselves? Yeah, sowe have definitely seen a rise and sort of anxiety and sort of need forsupport of our international student population during the last several years and particularly in thelast several months as it relates to immer and policy and the pandemic in theUS, you know, and so that has manifested in students needing more sortof support from our wellness center, from our residence lifestaff and certainly a lotof questions around visa and compliance issues and...

...some real sort of sense that ifthey don't do what they need to do that they'll be asked to leave thecountry, are forced to leave the country, and so it's been a lot ofsort of all hands on deck support for international student population. Yeah,and given that likely uncertainty at best, at worst deeper fear from our students, talk about your study abroad at home initiative at Dickinson and how you designedit to try to solve for some of these challenges are international students are facing. It's so Dickinson made the difficult decision over the summer to actually go allonline for the false semester. We felt for the health and safety of ourstudents and our community and Carlisle that that was the best way to move forward. And so of course that created some challenges for international population in terms of, you know, feeling some anxiety about wanting to come back to the USor being able to come back to the...

US. It made it not possiblefor our first year students to come back in fact challenging. We can accommodatethem as long as they have some in person courses initially, and so thatwas possible for a handful of first years. And then we just had students becauseof the pandemic stock at home students. We have of fairly significant Chinese studentpopulation and they just weren't able to come to the US. So westarted to think about what are the ways in which we can leverage our internationalpartnerships all over the world, mostly connected to our city abroad portfolio, andso we worked with some of our own partner and host institutions, so yon, say, university in South Korea, University of East Anglia and England,and then with a provider, so abroad provider partner, Cet, academic programs, to actually build study abroad programs at home, so programs that could accommodateinternational students in their home country for this...

...semester. And so we ended upbeing able to do that in Beijing, Shanghai, soul, Norwich, Englandand Ho Chun City in Vietnam. It's incredibly interesting and creative initiative. Sam. What have these in person experiences looked like in these countries where covid isstill a significant threat there, even if potentially better federally managed. Right.So it's been a bit of a mixed result in terms of the ability tobe in person. So yonza university actually went all online and the University ofEast Anglia has been a bit of a hybrid. So we have had studentsspend some time in Norwich, England and then some time at home to sortof, you know, accommodate sort of PAS it issues and getting them thereand having them have an experience. But our nor students had both for anin person and online hybrid experience. But...

...interestingly, in Beijing and Shanghai andin Vietnam and Hotein City, our students all were able to have in personexperiences which meant that they got to interact with their peers have more sort ofUS style classroom experiences, even if their faculty were Vietnamese and Chinese, becausewith your faculty who are actually used to working with a US student population andthey've just, you know, we have gotten wonderful sort of pictures of themtogether in activities sort of in the outside the classroom, things that they wouldn'thave been able to do even in our own campus in the US, whichis interesting, and then sort of in talking to some of these students.So we have one on one meetings with all of our first year and softwareinternational students. So we've been able to talk one on one and it's justbeen interesting to hear, you know, some of them said, I never, you know, I wasn't expecting to take courses at a university in myhome country, and that's been really interesting...

...for me to sort of see someof the differences between sort of US Dickenson style and being in the university athome. Yeah, let's talk more about that. Feedback from your international students. Do the majority seem grateful relieved that that you've provided the solution? Haveyou still seen an increased drop rate based on this new environment? where?Where are your international students actually at right now? Yes, so I definitelythink the message we've gotten loud and clear from all of our students is thatthey feel very supported by Dickinson, that we've created an opportunity for them thatis very flexible, that allows them to continue their education with us, tonot lose time. You know, I think that's the overarching message, andI think the other thing that was unique about the model that we built aswell is that we gave students the option to enroll on any Dickinson courses aswell for the semester. So, coming...

...from the Dickinson Carlisle campus, sosome of our students were sort of in hybrid again, situations where they mayhave been in a class, you know, talk from a faculty member in Carlisleand in a class with their their peers in Vietnam, for example,and that flexibility made it possible for them to really have a broad choice ofcourses, again, helping them feel like Dickinson's really trying to keep us ontrack and supported during this time, and I think we know what we've learnedthrough this crisis with all of our students, but particularly with our international students,has a lot of communication. Is really important, both sort of keepingthem updated on sort of the thinking and how where things are evolving and alsoone on one communications with them. Really huge. Kudos to you and yourteam for making sure that your students are supported. You mentioned how critical thismarket is for Dickinson. Thirteen percent of...

...your undergrad body being international students.This is a critical enrollment portion of your community. This is a critical,likely revenue portion of your community. How important is that institutionally to make surethat in these trying times from a federal policy standpoint, from a travel standpoint, how critical is it from an institutional standpoint that, like we need tofigure out how to make international students work? We can't just say, I guesswe're going to give up on that portion of our community. Right.It's really really critical, particularly at a place like Dickinson where they're both partof clearly sort of how we build a class from revenue standpoint and sort ofthinking about those pieces, but also because we are such a globalized campus thatare international students are so important to our in our cultural learning goals of diversity, equity and inclusion goals on campus. They really enrich our classrooms and,you know, bring so much to our...

...campus and the Carlo Community, again, both financially. I think there's been a lot in the press around whatinternational students contribute to the college towns that they live in as well and whatthat means. So, yeah, it's been, you know, really importantfor us to be innovative and think creatively about how we continue to work withour international student population, make them feel welcome on our campus, make thembe interested in an institution like Dickinson, a small liberal arts college, andthe kind of experience that provides in some continuity, right in times of somuch ambiguity and anxiety, to sort of feel like Dickinson as a home baseand a place where they belong. Super well done across the board. They'reSam any final next steps, advice for other institutions in a similar boat toyou right now trying hard to make their international students feel that sense of welcomeand community from a distance right now?...

Any advice? Any any next stepsfor them? Right I would say, you know, communication, like Isaid, is key, sort of really thinking about without overwhelming your office staffand tea, because it's been a very labor intensive sort of human resource laverin tens of process to support students with the compliance FSA regulation. So thinkingabout how can you streamline and be efficient in your communication and work well atthe same time balancing out that support that the students need. I would sayone of the things that made this something like this possible at Dickens and thatpeople can be thinking through, is it really involved outreach and collaboration across campus, so with residents life and student life and with admissions and with the firstyear advising folks and with the Registrar's Office. You know, without that sort ofteam effort, something like this wouldn't...

...have been possible. So, youknow, think about who your team is and make sure that you're involving themin these conversations and then justin sort of I think one of the things thathappen, is happening right now in international education, is that we're really it'sa time of innovation and reimagining and sort of what what do we want towhat are we learning from this moment? What do we want to make surewe routine and what are some of the things that we let go because maybethey aren't working as well? And how do we sort of really think aboutour international collaborations through city abroad, through, you know, the way that werecruit and have community engagement and our host communities around the world in supportof international education, to sort of reimagine and innovate in that area. Suchwonderful advice. Sam thanks so much for your time today. What's the bestplace for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions andbe happy if people have follow up questions for them to contact me by emailon my Dickenson email which is brandos at...

Dickinson Dot Edu. So be area and Da us at Dickinson Dot eedu. Awesome. Thanks so much for joiningus today, Sam. Thank you, Eric. This is a lot offun. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies.Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping collegesand universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the secondedition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free atHelix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show inItunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank...

...you so much for listening. Untilnext time,.

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