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Phoning initiative boosts international student enrollment

April 6, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Telephone conversations with prospective international students in their native languages have helped net a 100-percent increase in the number of new overseas students who enrolled at Western Michigan University this spring compared to last year.

Rebecca Solomon, director of International Services and Student Affairs for WMU, says the telephone recruitment initiative began at the start of the 2006-07 academic year and has been an unqualified success.

"We enrolled 121 new students this spring semester, double the spring 2006 enrollment of 60 students," Solomon says. "This is the highest enrollment of new international students for spring that we've seen in the last seven years."

International services plans to continue the calling program next year. Under the initiative, six enrolled international students were hired to make personal phone calls to selected prospective students from other countries.

The prospects were a mix of students who had never applied to WMU and students who already had been accepted to the University. Some of those called had received admission offers from several U.S. schools and were in the process of making their final decisions about which schools to attend.

Juan Tavares, phoning initiative coordinator and senior international student admissions counselor, says the personal chats give WMU a chance to encourage the students to consider enrolling at the University or in the English-as-a-second language program offered on campus in Kalamazoo through WMU's Career English Language Center for International Students.

"It's great to hear the students speaking in their native languages to a prospect," Tavares says. "And, the prospective students are excited to hear from current WMU students. I believe our enrollment will continue to improve due to this initiative."

The six student recruiters involved in the effort this academic year are in the process of calling more than 3,000 prospective international students who could begin attending WMU in fall 2007.

The recruiters are Naamini Mnangwone of Tanzania, Hashim Alsharif of Saudi Arabia, Nithin Kolencherry of India, Tieng Lau of Malaysia, Jinhui Liu of China, and Kaori Nakamoto of Japan. They represent most of the non-English-speaking home countries from which WMU attracts a majority of its overseas students.

WMU enrolls more than 1,000 international students from some 80 countries each academic year. The top-five countries typically sending students to the University, in descending order, are: India, Japan, Malaysia, China and Canada.

More information about WMU's international programs and services is available online at www.wmich.edu/international or by calling International Services and Student Affairs at (269) 387-5866.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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