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 to be innovative and think creatively about how we continue to work with our international student population. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development 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. Welcome back 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 engagement at Dickinson College. Sam, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. Eric. Really excited to talk with you today about making our international students feel welcome even at a distance.

Before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both Dickinson College and your roles? They're sure so. Dickinson college is a highly selective liberal arts college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We are twenty three hundred undergraduate students. We have a very large global footprint for a college, a Liberal Arts College of our size. So we send about close to seventy percent of our students will study of campus and we're about thirteen percent international students and we have a lot of exchange students and international visiting faculty as well. So we're a very globalized campus and the Center for Global Study and engagement is really the focal point where sort 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 student based currently is international students. To kick us off today, Sam, can you give us just a high level overview on the current difficulties and potential unwelcomeness that our international students may be feeling right now in this pandemic, especially given current federal policies toward international travel and in international students themselves? Yeah, so we have definitely seen a rise and sort of anxiety and sort of need for support of our international student population during the last several years and particularly in the last several months as it relates to immer and policy and the pandemic in the US, you know, and so that has manifested in students needing more sort of support from our wellness center, from our residence lifestaff and certainly a lot of questions around visa and compliance issues and...

...some real sort of sense that if they don't do what they need to do that they'll be asked to leave the country, are forced to leave the country, and so it's been a lot of sort 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 designed it 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 all online for the false semester. We felt for the health and safety of our students 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 US or being able to come back to the...

US. It made it not possible for our first year students to come back in fact challenging. We can accommodate them as long as they have some in person courses initially, and so that was possible for a handful of first years. And then we just had students because of the pandemic stock at home students. We have of fairly significant Chinese student population and they just weren't able to come to the US. So we started to think about what are the ways in which we can leverage our international partnerships all over the world, mostly connected to our city abroad portfolio, and so 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 accommodate international students in their home country for this...

...semester. And so we ended up being able to do that in Beijing, Shanghai, soul, Norwich, England and 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 is still 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 to be in person. So yonza university actually went all online and the University of East Anglia has been a bit of a hybrid. So we have had students spend some time in Norwich, England and then some time at home to sort of, you know, accommodate sort of PAS it issues and getting them there and having them have an experience. But our nor students had both for an in person and online hybrid experience. But...

...interestingly, in Beijing and Shanghai and in Vietnam and Hotein City, our students all were able to have in person experiences which meant that they got to interact with their peers have more sort of US style classroom experiences, even if their faculty were Vietnamese and Chinese, because with your faculty who are actually used to working with a US student population and they've just, you know, we have gotten wonderful sort of pictures of them together in activities sort of in the outside the classroom, things that they wouldn't have been able to do even in our own campus in the US, which is 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 software international students. So we've been able to talk one on one and it's just been interesting to hear, you know, some of them said, I never, you know, I wasn't expecting to take courses at a university in my home country, and that's been really interesting...

...for me to sort of see some of the differences between sort of US Dickenson style and being in the university at home. 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? Have you still seen an increased drop rate based on this new environment? where? Where are your international students actually at right now? Yes, so I definitely think the message we've gotten loud and clear from all of our students is that they feel very supported by Dickinson, that we've created an opportunity for them that is very flexible, that allows them to continue their education with us, to not lose time. You know, I think that's the overarching message, and I think the other thing that was unique about the model that we built as well is that we gave students the option to enroll on any Dickinson courses as well for the semester. So, coming...

...from the Dickinson Carlisle campus, so some of our students were sort of in hybrid again, situations where they may have been in a class, you know, talk from a faculty member in Carlisle and 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 of courses, again, helping them feel like Dickinson's really trying to keep us on track and supported during this time, and I think we know what we've learned through this crisis with all of our students, but particularly with our international students, has a lot of communication. Is really important, both sort of keeping them updated on sort of the thinking and how where things are evolving and also one on one communications with them. Really huge. Kudos to you and your team for making sure that your students are supported. You mentioned how critical this market 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 sure that 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 to figure out how to make international students work? We can't just say, I guess we'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 part of clearly sort of how we build a class from revenue standpoint and sort of thinking about those pieces, but also because we are such a globalized campus that are 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 what international students contribute to the college towns that they live in as well and what that means. So, yeah, it's been, you know, really important for us to be innovative and think creatively about how we continue to work with our international student population, make them feel welcome on our campus, make them be interested in an institution like Dickinson, a small liberal arts college, and the kind of experience that provides in some continuity, right in times of so much ambiguity and anxiety, to sort of feel like Dickinson as a home base and a place where they belong. Super well done across the board. They're Sam any final next steps, advice for other institutions in a similar boat to you right now trying hard to make their international students feel that sense of welcome and community from a distance right now?...

Any advice? Any any next steps for them? Right I would say, you know, communication, like I said, is key, sort of really thinking about without overwhelming your office staff and tea, because it's been a very labor intensive sort of human resource laver in tens of process to support students with the compliance FSA regulation. So thinking about how can you streamline and be efficient in your communication and work well at the same time balancing out that support that the students need. I would say one of the things that made this something like this possible at Dickens and that people 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 first year advising folks and with the Registrar's Office. You know, without that sort of team effort, something like this wouldn't...

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

Dickinson Dot Edu. So be are a and Da us at Dickinson Dot eedu. Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us today, Sam. Thank you, Eric. This is a lot of fun. 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 colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix 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 in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank...

...you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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