The Admissions Office is working to ensure that Penn’s name is well-known around the world.
Admissions representatives travel to over 30 countries in any given year, according to Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. And in spite of University-wide budget cuts, the admissions travel budget “hasn’t been cut at all.”
In fact, Admissions traveled more this year than last because staff members who would ordinarily be traveling were needed to help transition the Office of Admissions to a “new digital imaging system,” Furda explained.
Penn President Amy Gutmann said Admissions hasn’t faced the same travel budget cuts as other departments because they have a greater need to travel.
“International travel is critical to our admissions outreach to prospective students,” she said. “We have a long-standing commitment to an international presence on our campus, … which is instrumental to getting the best students to come to Penn.”
In terms of prioritizing certain countries over others, Furda said some places “are going to be important for any institution.”
He cited China and India as examples, adding that Penn has had a “long-standing commitment” to these countries.
He also said there is a focus on “areas where we have a critical mass of alumni,” such as London.
Furda noted that traveling in conjunction with other colleges is an effective way to save money because they can share expenses and draw larger crowds.
Penn Admissions has traveled to Canada with the Ivy Plus group and went to Africa with Yale University.
Penn has always been a “pioneer” in international recruitment, according to Furda.
“This really does go back 30 plus years,” he said. “What has changed over that period of time is that more and more people are doing what Penn did.”
Still, other Ivy League schools’ admissions representatives do not travel as extensively.
Dartmouth College travels to between eight and 10 countries annually, while Yale admissions visits 21 countries, according to The Dartmouth.
University administrators emphasized the value of recruiting international students.
“It is critical, in an increasingly global culture, for Penn to recruit outstanding students from every part of the world and make them visibly welcome on campus,” Provost Vincent Price wrote in an e-mail. “They bring a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives that immeasurably enhances the vitality of our campus.”
Sally Rubenstone, senior advisor at College Confidential, called international students “an asset” to any university.
“While interacting with international students on the Penn campus — or on any campus — is not a substitute for visiting other countries outside the U.S., it certainly does help to broaden horizons and to build networks for all concerned,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Much of the outreach is done via mail or e-mail, but there is “no substitute over time with building relationships with high schools within regions,” Furda explained.
Michael Goran, director of IvySelect College Counseling, currently works with five international students who hope to attend college in the United States.
To them, he said, “Face-to-face contact and exposure does make a difference, as does brand name recognition.”
Some admissions officers said universities may be doing international outreach for the sake of institutional prestige.
“I do sometimes feel as if colleges compete with one another for the longest lists of countries represented on campus in a way that reminds me of my son collecting Pokemon cards,” Rubenstone said — ‘that ‘gotta get ‘em all’ mentality.”
Furda emphasized that this is not the attitude at Penn Admissions.
“We’re not just going to add countries to say that we visited X number of countries per year,” he explained. “We need to be thoughtful about this.”
But, Furda said, before Admissions considers adding new countries to its list of travels, the “first step we have to take is seeing how effective our current travel has been [and] see what our applicant pool is looking like.”Comments powered by Disqus
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