How to Market your School on InternationalStudent.com

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Envisage International is hosting a free Webinar on how to market you school on InternationalStudent.com.  The live Webinar is Thursday, January 22nd at 2:00 EST.  The recorded Webinar will also be available on our corporate site.

During this Webinar on how to market your school on InternationalStudent.com we will talk about the different opportunities to gain exposure for your college or univeristy on the site and through the International Student Network, including social media, email marketing, inquiry generation, Google Hangouts and more. We will cover pricing, packaging and success stories of other schools.

At the core of our marketing efforts, your school’s profile would be upgraded to an enhanced profile.  The enhanced profiles include your school logo, pictures, videos, social media feeds, student profiles, program descriptions and other relevant information.  We would also integrate your school into the USA School Search on the site, so that your school would be found when students are searching for programs that you offer.  Depending upon your the amount of exposure and student inquiries that you would like to have, we can then add in email, banners, social media, email and newsletter marketing.

To learn more about how to market your school on InternationalStudent.com, join our free webinar.

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Top 10 International Education Predictions for 2015

The new year is here, and we are excited for what it has in stored. Here are the top 10 international education predictions for 2015 – read on and let us know what you think:2015

1. International Student Numbers in the US Continue to Soar
The number of international students in the US will exceed 950,000 in the 2014-2015 academic year. That’s a big number, but we think its possible as China (though slowing – see below) will continue to send more students, while major growth will come from countries with a strong home country government scholarship program like Brazil, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia KASP program will expand further (Saudi Arabia now is the #4 sender of students to the United States), while Brazil’s Science Without Borders program announced 100,000 more scholarships this year for STEM students (Brazil is currently the #10 sender of students to the US).

2. Growth From China Continues to Slow
The juggernaut can’t go on forever. There are nearly 300,000 Chinese students studying in the US, more than the total number of international students in all but a handful of countries. We called for a slowing of growth last year and got it, but not to the extent we expected. This year, we expect growth in the numbers from China to drop into the 10-12% range, down from over 16% this past year and 21% the year before. A few reasons – a cooling economy, cooling relations (as a result of retrenched communist party control, including significant travel restrictions), as well as the continued difficulties for US campuses to absorb such large numbers from a single country.

3. Insurance Fades to the Background
Insurance has been on the front burner in international education, as the ACA and J1 regulations have had schools and participants variously concerned, engaged and paying attention. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve enjoyed the limelight – but now we expect insurance to fade back as schools, exchange organizations and insurers all have a much clearer picture of the requirements and expectations. With international students exempt from the ACA for their first 5 calendar years in the US, and new J1 visa insurance regulations going into full effect in May, regulatory uncertainty is behind us for a while.

4. Domestic Recruiters Go International
The lead generation/student recruitment industry targeting domestic US students is highly evolved and technology-enabled, with live call transfer, immediate response, as well as sophisticated lead tracking, scrubbing and scoring. As the domestic market becomes more regulated and tougher to thrive in, 2015 will see more of these “domestic” recruiting and lead generation companies commit to international education in a bigger way. Companies like Cappex and Education Dynamics will look to take their domestic models and internationalize them.

5. For-Profits Target International Students
This prediction is tied directly to #4 above, whereby a previously profitable domestic business looks to beef up revenue from international sources. While the for-profit sector will continue to come under scrutiny and even continue to see schools sold off, closed down and turn to non-profit status, you will see the ones that are trying to survive (yes the big ones) begin to compete more aggressively for the pool of international students.

6. Online Recruiting, Agent Recruiting Goes Bananas
Continued growth in international students flocking to the US, coupled with a difficult financial picture for many schools, will drive more colleges and universities to adopt non-traditional recruiting methods and online marketing strategies. As we know, in 2014 NACAC laid out their International Student Recruitment Agencies: A Guide for Schools, Colleges and Universities. Colleges and universities have now had 2014 to digest the report and integrate agents into their strategies for 2015 and beyond. We saw proof of this in Miami at ICEF 2014, having yet again their best attended Miami conference to date. From an online marketing perspective, we are seeing tremendous growth in our school partners as well as the amount of interest in schools coming on board in 2015. We are seeing the effects of the growing numbers of international students that want to study in the US in our own site traffic numbers, showing dramatic year over year growth (Commerce Alert: Join our free webinar to learn about Featured School packaging and pricing on InternationalStudent.com, which will cover social media, email marketing, Google Hangouts, school success stories and more: RSVP for the Webinar).

7. States Get Creative with Affordability
President Obama, inspired by a new Tennessee plan, has announced a proposal to provide free community college tuition for two years to anyone in the country, regardless of age. Just as the Affordable Care Act looks a lot like what Massachusetts did a few years earlier, this federal proposal also seems modeled on the exciting new world of college affordability in Tennessee. And though the Obama proposal is unlikely to go anywhere considering the current political climate and makeup of Congress, simply putting the proposal out there will spur other states to look creatively at college affordability programs.

Not that any state program will change the overall financial picture for international students – the US is not on a path to become the next Finland (which has just reversed an earlier decision to start charging tuition to international students). While a greater number of students will rely on home country sponsorship, personal and family support will continue to make up the largest percentage of student funding.

8. SSL Everywhere
You will start to see SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) everywhere – that means the little lock icon and yellow url that lets you know you are on a secure site. Between data protection issues as we go from one high-profile hack to another, and Google’s announcement late in 2014 that secure pages will enjoy a slight increase in ranking signals, webmasters will be transitioning their non-secure sites to SSL in droves.

9. Mobile Starts to Dominate
Mobile and tablet traffic will to continue to grow and there will be a rush to convert non-responsive sites to accommodate those visitors. Google has already added the words “Mobile-friendly” to the search results pages for mobile devices. Emails will also need to look good on phones, tablets and other internet connected devices, and mobile-friendly emails will become the norm in 2015.

10. Visitor Engagement Rules.
Visitor engagement and site speed will become increasingly important aspects of a website’s SEO signals. Faster sites that keep visitors engaged (think content, layout and navigation) will continue to rank well and sites with a poor user experience will suffer as Google refines its algorithms).

We will be watching all of these trends in 2015, and we’ll make sure to let you know how we did at the end of the year.

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A Look At The Open Doors Report – What the Numbers Reveal

Globe of Africa and International Currencies in BackgroundAA049180Though some may have doubted it, the data proves otherwise: the United States is still the number 1 place for students studying abroad. Late last month, the Institute of International Education released findings which show no signs of a slowdown thanks in part to government scholarships that have fueled much of the growth. In the 2013-2014 academic year, 886,052 international students helped break the record for how many students are studying in the US. Growth in study abroad also increased bringing the new total to 289,408 students.

What do these numbers show and indicate? Continue reading

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Taking Hangout On Air On the Road

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.
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J-1 Visa Insurance Requirement Changes

j1 visa insurance changesAfter 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.

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Using the Advanced Responsive Classes of Bootstrap 3.2

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.

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Introducing International Student Hangouts for Schools

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.
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Helping International Students Budget for College

482232973One 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?
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Helping Students Understand Insurance

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!
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Back to School Tech 2014

I’ve collected some of the cooler and more interesting tech gadgets that could ease you back into the drudgery of school.

chromecastChromecast – 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.
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