When it comes to international student recruitment, melt is more than just a summer trend. International students face a long to-do list to make sure they’re ready and able to study at their chosen institution after they’ve been admitted. It’s important that colleges and universities address early-on the steps that international students must navigate to successfully enroll.
What causes international student melt
One of the common misconceptions we hear from admitted international students is that they have plenty of time to submit their visa application. Truth of the matter is, student visas take time to acquire. The primary driver of melt we see in international student recruitment is that international students don’t get their visas in time to start classes. As soon as a student has received his or her Form I-20, you should stress the urgency of completing all the necessary steps required to get an F-1 student visa. Prior to scheduling the visa interview, international students need to complete their I-901 SEVIS fee payment as the receipt is needed at the interview. Once the interview is scheduled, it’s imperative that international students spend a lot of time preparing for their visa interviews by reading articles online, speaking with their counselors, visiting an EducationUSA office, or practicing their interview responses with family and friends. Students should allow some extra time to collect stronger supporting documents, prepare new responses, and go for a second F-1 student visa interview in the event they are denied an F-1 student visa in their first attempt.
Going through the visa process can be taxing, so check in with students regularly to offer support and encouragement. One of the big mistakes colleges and universities make is assuming that a student’s enrollment is a sure-thing once the student has the Form I-20 in hand. Ample time and energy are still needed from this stage to nurture students across the finish line.
UniQuest Student Enrollment Advisors proactively call and email students to discuss where they are in the enrollment process and outline relevant next steps. For example, they encourage students to pay their I-901 fees and prepare for their visa interview. Our Student Enrollment Advisors are also available on live chat to answer questions in real-time as students encounter points of confusion. Signposting to relevant support resources and strengthening your relationship with students through personalized engagement across multiple channels will ensure more students successfully complete the steps to obtain a visa and will help decrease international student melt rates.
Tips to prevent international student melt
Don’t wait until summer to start your melt campaign
Proactively reach out to students in real-time as they accept an offer to study with you to drive urgency in completing the next steps and grow enthusiasm for studying with you. As mentioned, obtaining an F-1 student visa takes more time than students think, so it’s critical that you communicate timelines to students early and keep them motivated and dedicated throughout the process.
Tailor your communications to every student and where they are in the journey to enrollment
Focus each conversation on a specific call-to-action relevant to the student, such as paying the I-901 fee or booking accommodation. Don’t overload students with an exhaustive to-do list; break things down to make the process feel more manageable.
Balance logistical information with content about student life on campus
Your conversations with students should both inform and excite. Just because students have said they’re joining you in the Fall, doesn’t mean it’s time to stop selling your university. Continue your engagement efforts to make students feel wanted and grow their excitement for becoming a part of your campus community.
Communicate through to campus arrival
Make sure you maintain an open and active dialogue with students so you can uncover any last-minute issues that may cause international student melt and provide the support needed in time to make a difference.
It may seem like a small issue, but you’d be surprised how much we hear that students aren’t going to enroll because of cancelled flights. Students are often concerned that if they miss move-in day due to a flight cancellation that they can’t enroll for the current semester. Unexpected complications like this come up, which is why it’s so important to maintain contact with students through to arriving on campus. When issues are surfaced, you still have time to get students back on track to enroll.
We believe that student enrollment is driven by personal interactions and your attention shouldn’t wane once international students have paid their deposit. Whether it’s summer or not, bring down your international student melt rates by continuing to nurture your relationships with students and by supporting them through the common stumbling blocks they encounter on the path to enrollment.
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