Freshman Isabel Blanco Araujo, from Venezuela, was drawn to Elon University because of its small size, student to professor ratio and Honors Fellows program. Upon arriving at school. But, Araujo found that her transition to Elon as an international student was more difficult than she imagined.
Despite making a name for itself over the years with an International Admissions office that recruits from many parts of the world, international students at Elon feel that progress can still be made to bring in more students from abroad.
“I know Elon wants to triple the number of international students, but I feel like in order for that to be successful, Elon still has to fix the problems we have right now,” Araujo said. “For example, the GEC and stuff like international orientation could be more beneficial. And just easing into the transition, I feel like there was a lot of information that wasn’t necessarily important — like the lingo of campus. And important information about registration wasn’t covered during international orientation. So it was good in some aspects, but not good in others. And if we want to triple the numbers of international students, how we are helping our international students has to improve first.”
According to Araujo, Elon’s international recruitment team is well-equipped at reaching out to international students, but the manner in which they do so and the information they provide to students upon reaching Elon could be improved.
“I feel like my country is not that accessible,” Araujo said, “I was personally contacted by the international admissions office several times, and they helped me also ease into the transition of getting acquainted with persons that were already here … so I feel like they do a pretty good job regarding that.”
Despite Elon’s ability to successfully make contact with international students, Araujo described her difficulty in obtaining important information regarding campus resources and campus job opportunities during international orientation.
Though there may be room for improvement, Elon International Admissions has undoubtedly made progress in drawing in more international students to campus. According to Greg Zaiser, vice president of admissions and financial planning, international admissions formally began 20 years ago in 1997 when the position of Elon’s first Director of International Admissions was created.
“Up until that time, the university had international students but there was no formal recruitment initiative,” Zaiser said. “With the new position, the university made a name for itself by recruiting in many parts of the world. To this day, our international recruitment teams travels extensively. In addition to outreach, the university has developed a small but important scholarship pool to attract international students to campus.”
According to the Institutional Research Fact Book, Elon had 54 international students during the 1992-1993 academic year, comprising 1.7 percent of the entire student population. Since then, Elon has increased its international population to 414 during the 2016-2017 academic year, comprising approximately 6.1 percent of the student body.
Zaiser went on to explain the important role that international students play at Elon.
“Like everything Elon does, we recognize that different perspectives are critical in education,” Zaiser said. “This is paramount to The Elon Commitment strategic plan. Increasing diversity is vital for the university and international recruitment is one of many initiatives in which we engage to enhance diversity across campus.”
Regarding the future of international recruitment at Elon, Zaiser expressed Elon’s desire to continue to attract a larger international population.
“Given Elon’s outstanding reputation as a leader in global education. It’s appropriate that we should grow our international student population to further reflect our commitment to international education,”Zaiser said. “We will continue to recruit internationally for the benefit of all students. While we seek to increase our international student population, we will continue to recruit students who have demonstrated in their secondary schools that they will be academically successful at Elon.”
Despite its progress in increasing the number of international students on campus over the past couple decades, Elon still has room for progress regarding international recruitment and orientation. Zaiser recognized the importance of continuing the recruitment of international students.
“Though the goal is to triple the number of international students at Elon from 2010 to 2020 — and we will do that — we will continue to seek a greater number of international students and students with international backgrounds well into the next strategic plan and beyond,” Zaiser said. “Diversity of all kinds makes Elon a better educational environment.”