Let’s have a frank conversation about international student recruitment. Now, for the sake of discussion, let’s take off the table all fully-funded international students (the usual suspects, if you will) and let’s focus on international student recruitment from developing countries that all universities seem to want but can’t quite seem to attract.

#1. The Online Application and Shipping Fees

There is no more divisive tradition than the online application process, which can run from $40 to $250 or more for international applications. While most American administrators find this fee innocuous and necessary, typically covering processing costs and courier fees, international students from developing nations will specifically choose universities without application fees (in a heartbeat) over higher-rated and more prestigious institutions that charge exorbitant application processing fees.

Seriously, this is the biggest difference between one applicant and fifty applicants.

#2. The Online International Application

If your online international application portal was designed by an American programmer under the guidance of your admissions committee, I can already tell you that you’re in trouble. We spend hours on conference calls with US colleges and universities explaining that international phone numbers are not ten digits or international students do not have social security numbers or even addresses requiring zip codes (do you mean pincode?), which all just goes to reinforce in the minds of the international family that your institution is out of touch with the needs and desires of your intended international population.

#3. The Courier Fee

If your college or university cannot cover the cost of sending original acceptance documents to your accepted international students using FedEx or DHL then consider using USPS with tracking. It will take a little longer, but it’ll make it to the student in the same kind of courier document folder but at a third of the cost. Sometimes, the small things can improve international student recruitment.

#4. Scanned Documents

If your university policy is to review only original (not scanned documents from certified or licensed education agents), you are effectively eliminating hundreds or even thousands of potential applications each year. Ask the university down the street with the vibrant and diverse international population about how to process scanned documents; simply require accepted international students to submit original documents when they arrive at your doorstep.

#5. Processing Time

If your university cannot process an international bachelor application and issue an acceptance letter and I-20 within 7 business days, you have a huge problem. And while we’re on the subject, a graduate application, regardless of how archaic or non-centralized the process might be, must be completed within 14 days of the submission. Competing colleges and universities in the US as well as at other English speaking countries are regularly producing documents at this pace, which is the expected rate amongst the international community you are attempting to recruit. If international student recruitment is a priority then make the processes faster, easier, and better for the student.

#6. Transcript Evaluation

If you thought a $75 app fee was a deterrent, try asking a student from a developing nation to pay $230 or more for a NACES approved transcript evaluation. If you cannot interpret transcripts internally, your prospective student will be graduating from another US institution or at a Canadian university near you. If you cannot overcome this administrative challenge then call a specific NACES approved transcript evaluator and negotiate a discounted rate and then promote that specific company as your preferred transcript evaluator 0n your website.


Yes, I agree language acquisition is essential in the evaluation of a prospective international student; however, let us not confuse language acquisition with intelligence. And if your minimum IELTS or TOEFL score is the same as the Top 100 universities in the US, your tier 3 college is effectively attempting to compete head-to-head with academic institutions with better reputations, better rankings, and a much larger endowment, which is to say that your professors might be happy but your admissions office is not.

Consider accepting an alternative exam as an approved method of establishing language acquisition to increase international student recruitment.

#8. International Deadlines

While I fully concede that deadlines are crucial for admissions officers to complete the tedious task of evaluating thousands of applications, US application deadlines are typically not aligned with academic calendars in developing nations. If diversity and growth are important to your institution then either allow flexibility with international submissions or change your deadlines. International student recruitment must become the mantra repeated throughout each step of your application processes.

#9. Recommendation Letters

Who told US institutions that the same personal one-on-one relationships between students and professors in the US system exist outside our continent? Demanding an international student to ask three professors to write personal anecdotal recommendation letters and submit them into a portal with English instructions is futile. Most recommendation letters written outside the United States contain little more than attendance data and a general reference to the final academic score, which is laborious for the international student to obtain and worthless to the graduate admissions committee.

#10. International Education Agents

What sense does it make to fly your admissions staff to international cities to set up a booth in a conference room with a hundred other universities to compete for the attention of the same international students?

McGovern Education Group is a contractual partner with hundreds of US colleges and universities and we have hundreds of capable international applicants who remain unplaced at the end of each recruiting cycle simply because of US submission deadlines and antiquated admissions procedures.

Ask yourself: Do you want a vibrant international student population in those empty seats? If so, it’s time for someone on the administrative leadership team to contact McGovern Education Group, the leader in international student recruitment at info@mcgoverneducation.com.

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