Over the past few months, we have been developing an interesting new way of communicating with international students. As content creators, we’ve found Google Hangouts to be a new, and valuable content platform that allows international student to meet us virtually face-to-face, engage with us directly, and discover valuable resources about studying in the US. After months of practice and continuous tweaking and editing, we’ve developed numerous resource video hangouts for international students and have provided a new product to our partner schools looking to interact with students one-on-one for international student recruitment.
To introduce Google Hangouts to international educators as a viable, free tool for communicating with their international students and as a high-quality product provided by Envisage International, we traveled around the US and attended eight separate NAFSA regional conferences. At each conference, we presented the topic ‘Google+ and Google Hangouts – the newest technology in communicating and recruiting international students’. But there was a twist. We also decided to broadcast the presentation via an actual Google Hangout, which would live on our Google+ page, YouTube, and could be embedded on our website for future viewers.
After waiting nearly 5 years, we finally have clarification on the new health insurance regulations set forth by the US State Department released into the Federal Register the changes to Sub-Part A of the Exchange Visitor Program.
Covering a wide range of areas, the key focus for us was the new insurance requirements for the J1 visa. Having been put in place in 1993, the current levels of $50,000 for medical coverage, $10,000 for evacuation and $7,500 for repatriation was generally perceived as too low – and many in the industry had been calling for higher limits to safeguard participants.
In 2009, when the original comment period was release for sub-part A, the levels were placed at $200,000 for medical, $50,000 for evacuation and $25,000 for repatriation – so it had been widely accepted that these levels would hold true through to the final rule.
Some of the tricker items to handle within a mobile first website are large images or tables, and embedded objects like videos/iframes. The 3.0 version of Bootstrap introduced us to the responsive image and table classes, but did not offer a truly elegant solution for mobile first treatment of embedded content. Thankfully, the 3.2+ version of Bootstrap has a solution for the embedded iframe, and they’ve also tackled some of the sticker issues relating to the .visible-* classes, which we’ll address at the end of this article.
In our previous post on Bootstrap, we took a look at the “img-responsive” class added with 3.0, but didn’t address the responsive table classes, so let’s start there.
If you are like most schools that are looking to increase or diversify your international student population, you have looked at many different ways to reach and recruit them. You have gotten up early, gotten on an airplane, literally flown to the other side of the world looking for students that are a good fit for your school. You have done virtual student fairs, listed with portal sites and taken your international social media to a new level. You have the agents that represent your school on speed dial. But other than traveling across the globe, how else can you put a face to your school and your recruiting efforts? We have thought long and hard about that as well. That is why we are pleased to introduce International Student Hangouts.
One of the biggest challenges any student faces when they go off to college is creating and sticking to a budget. Now, to that add currency fluctuations, unknown living costs, unforeseen circumstances with little support in the host country, and international travel, and it becomes an even more complicated issue.
We work with thousands of international students all trying to navigate their way through the complex web of financing their degree. Sixty-three percent of international students fund the majority of their education out of their own pocket, according to the latest Open Doors Report. In some cases, they are just scraping by. So the question becomes, how can you help your international students when it comes to budgeting?
When it comes to insurance, even the most well versed can sometimes struggle with their deductibles, copays, coinsurance, maximum out-of-pocket – and that is all before you start looking at the actual benefits. When you have students accustom to their healthcare system, that uses different health insurance terms, and add a language barrier to that, you have a situation that can be pretty complicated when trying to introduce students to the US healthcare system!
I’ve collected some of the cooler and more interesting tech gadgets that could ease you back into the drudgery of school.
Chromecast – One of the smallest and easiest to use streaming media devices out there. For $35 you get a tiny stick computer that plugs straight into the HDMI port on your TV or Monitor, connect to your WiFi network and then control the device from your cell phone, tablet or computer. You can stream Google’s own movie and music to it, Netflix, HBO’s Go service, Hulu, YouTube and dozens more.
Thanks to new survey data that made its debut at the recent NAFSA conference there was something more concrete for the assembled academics to talk about than usual. The new data gave clear form to the motivations behind international student retention and what it reveals will alternately confirm and confound the expectations of their advisors.
The survey, which asked both students and their advisors about the main sources of dissatisfaction for international students, revealed that both parties cited financial concerns as the most pressing concern. 36% of the international students polled in the survey, for example, cited affordability and another 34% cited the availability of scholarships as their main sources of dissatisfaction. A parallel survey indicates that, by and large, international educators and advisors are on the same page: 64% cited “financial difficulties” as the main reason for student attrition – and, again, the student data seems to bear this out. The student survey separated students by “transfer status”* and found that those who do not plan to transfer were twice as likely to report that institutional aid or scholarships are their two principal sources of funding than are students who plan to transfer.
This year we’ve started using Google’s Hangout On Air (HOA) tool to connect to our student visitors and help them find the information that they are looking for. We’ve done Hangouts for finding scholarships, using your contacts to find a job after school, how international student can build credit, choosing the right health insurance plan, among others.
One of the challenges to doing a HOA with multiple presenters is making the technology easy to use and robust enough to work almost anywhere. We decided that the easiest solution to implement would be to ship a Chromebook computer directly to the remote location, along with a headset, so that the remote presenter only needs to login to Google with our pre-configured account. Other than connecting to the local WiFi network and plugging in the USB microphone, there is almost no other configuration needed on the remote side.