MONMOUTH, Ill. — A substantial increase in international student enrollment this fall is expected to help Monmouth College achieve one of its largest entering classes ever.
The college will welcome approximately 20 new degree-seeking international students, whose presence will more than double the number of countries previously represented on campus. Monmouth’s participation in the Institute of International Education (IIE) Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, which has enabled the college to reach well-prepared Syrian students unable to continue their education at home, has been a key factor in the increase. Twelve Syrian undergraduates will enroll this fall, and several more in the spring semester.
Associate Dean Brenda Tooley, who was commissioned in 2012 to develop international partnerships and heighten the college’s presence internationally, has been a driving force behind the increase, actively connecting with U.S. State Department advisers in EducationUSA centers around the globe and with high school counselors, students and parents in national and international high schools.
“I find the outreach and academic advising this involves to be very rewarding,” Tooley said. “It takes great courage and enterprise to study abroad as an undergraduate. I admire these students very much, and look forward to getting to know them face to face.”
Improving the process of international admission and making connections across a range of media platforms were key initiatives at the forefront of this year’s recruitment efforts. “We now have a Sina Weibo account and Zinch.cn webpage for Monmouth College,” explained Tooley. “These sanctioned electronic outlets make us visible in China. Without them, it would be as if we did not exist.”
Monmouth posts news and scholarship information to the EducationUSA social media outlets and on the IIE database for funding for study in the United States, as well as in other electronic venues. “Fortunately, there is an extensive network of well-informed advocates for study in the United States within EducationUSA and the Council of International Schools,” Tooley noted. “It is a pleasure to see Monmouth College becoming a valued and active member of this global network.”
When classes begin Aug. 27, the student body will include students from Algeria, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Syria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
“Top schools have a number of international students as a fundamental aspect of their collegiate experience,” said Tim Keefauver, MC’s vice president for enrollment management. “This is important for many reasons, including the fact that academically strong students look for such cultural diversity when choosing a college.”
Keefauver said the college already fares well in the area of cultural diversity among U.S. students, with more than 20 percent of its students coming from ethnic minorities. International diversity is now on the upswing, as well.
Monmouth’s connections with the State Department have been especially helpful in recruiting high-quality students with strong academic backgrounds, many of whom are from International Baccalaureate schools or highly reputable private international high schools. One of the Syrian students entering this fall is a talented violinist who will occupy first chair in the Monmouth College Orchestra.
“These students will bring fresh perspectives and a diverse form of academic rigor to the world-class classrooms of the college,” said Keefauver. “We’ve seen that our international students are already making a positive impact, as they are often among the most active on the incoming student Facebook page. They have already made friends with various students and staff members in the best Monmouth tradition of deep and transformative integration into the life of the college.”
Having a large pool of international students benefits the entire student body, Keefauver explained, noting that the global trade environment of the 21st century will demand well-educated students who are comfortable interacting with people from many cultures and in traveling internationally. To that end, he said, the college needs both international students and its extensive program of more than 70 off-campus study programs.
The college has often hosted several international students who are participating in semester-long study-abroad experiences of their own but, said Keefauver, “Unique to this year’s recruiting effort is that the majority of our new internationals are four-year students at the college.”
Townspeople of Monmouth have been especially gracious in offering to be host families to international students, with a record number of such families volunteering this year.
“These families find the experience of sharing American culture with these students--
and also learning about the student culture— to be highly enriching to their experience of living in Monmouth,” said Keefauver. “The college is grateful to these families for their help.”
He concluded, “All these international students are a demonstration of the growing visibility and value of the Monmouth College experience.”
Read more about it: IIE Syria Consortium (http://www.iie.org/Programs/Syria-Scholarships
); EducationUSA (http://www.educationusa.info/
); Monmouth College International Admissions (http://www.monmouthcollege.edu/admissions/international/