Deciding to send your children to school in America is a big decision. For most international students and their families, attending an American school is not only about academics, but also about the diverse student body, extracurricular activities, and the sense of community unique to boarding school environments. Unable to visit school campuses in person as a result of COVID-19, many international students and their families have been placed in a particularly challenging position. What should schools do to not only maintain a high level of education for current or newly enrolled students, but to also attract prospective students?
Here are some suggestions from Ivy Talent to US schools for current, newly enrolled, and prospective students:
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In light of distance learning, schools should adjust or remove their boarding and meal fees. Online courses should be sure to uphold the same standards and policies as in-person courses, including dress codes, assignment quality, and assessment / grading. Schools should consider their international students when organizing class schedules and try to accommodate students who are in different time-zones.
Newly Enrolled students
Many newly enrolled students may not have visited campus and should be provided with a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the school. Schools should provide virtual seminars or online info sessions with up-to-date campus news. Current students should mentor new students to help them navigate their new school and their virtual learning space. Schools should provide mentoring matches between existing students and those newly enrolled based on student interests and background.
Many prospective students are more hesitant than before about going abroad, and therefore schools need to ensure that the prospective students feel welcome, even from a distance. Holding virtual campus tours and frequent online Q&A sessions led by current students or alumni are great ways for prospective students to get a better understanding of the school. Schools should consider how to moderate these sessions and have admissions representatives lead them, so they are similar to when a student would visit the school in-person. Access needs to be controlled only to allow only those students who have pre-registered or submitted inquiry forms to the school.
Although the current situation related to COVID-19 is ever evolving, the one thing that will remain consistent is American schools’ need for international students. If schools do not adequately accommodate international students, this could cause a less diverse student population and financial strain. At the same time, the desire of the parents of international students to give their children a world-class education is as strong as ever. Therefore, despite the unprecedented level of uncertainty, if schools adopt the preceding suggestions, international students will be sure to continue to play an important role in institutions around the US.