It is not uncommon for agents, potential students, and natural parents/families to randomly show up on campus requesting to meet with Admissions and have a tour. They are just exploring their education opportunities, and this may be the first impression of your school.
Do you have any unique campus visitation requirements (registration, pay a fee, etc.)? As part of your international marketing strategy, you should have a plan for when these surprise visits happen. Make sure this alongside your admissions process is clearly outlined on your school’s admissions tab on your website. Lastly, highlight current international student successes and experiences to truly peak market interest.
Be sure to follow these three tips when an unexpected international family arrives!
#1. Don’t panic
First and foremost, do not panic. Acting surprised or panicked can often be interpreted as negative, and natural parents won’t feel welcomed. More importantly, try your best not to suggest that showing up unannounced is “wrong.” It’s essential to maintain a welcoming atmosphere for all prospective students and their families, no matter how selective you are in the admissions process or how rigid your campus visitation requirements are.
#2 Be thorough and call Cambridge for advice
While you gather your admissions team together for a tour, invite the international visitors to wait in a seated area and look over some marketing materials that you would typically give to a prospective domestic student and their family.
Often, natural parents do not speak English and may or may not have a translator. If your team doesn’t have a plan for surprise visits, strategize with your Admissions team while the family is in the waiting area. Then, call Cambridge! Cambridge Representatives are happy to help you come up with a plan. Even if parents do arrive with a translator or speak English moderately well, Cambridge is delighted to offer advice on marketable points of your school, and other tactics.
Be sure to take down the student’s name and contact information to forward to Cambridge to follow up. By reaching out to the student, it shows them the school is interested, and they will apply sooner rather than later.
#3 Give a brief tour
Be sure to provide a thorough tour of your campus if you have the time. However, given the nature of unexpected visits, you and your admissions team may have a lot going on that day. If that’s the case, don’t feel obligated to provide more than 30-45 minutes of a campus tour.
Though, it’s important that the student and their family leave having been introduced to the Headmaster or Principal of your school. Also, be sure to gift some school promotion gear if any is on hand (water bottles, pens, t-shirt, etc.). Gift-giving, especially in Chinese culture, is customary and often expected at business gatherings. Make a memorable experience they can then share with their educational agent and peers back home.
#4 If you’re comfortable doing so, interview the student.
Some students will ask for an interview on the spot even if they haven’t applied yet. This is entirely at your discretion, and you should interview the student if you feel that they are a strong candidate. Always encourage students to submit a formal application, and make sure that the student understands that all applicants need to submit an application before interviewing even though you are making an exception with them. The formal application ensures that students meet all vetting requirements established by Cambridge and the school at the beginning of each recruitment season. It also helps Cambridge verify applicants’ identities before coming to school, as there have been some cases in the past of applicants hiring others to interview for them to up their chances of getting into schools.
Always remember, this may be the first impression of your school! Be kind, genuine and don’t be afraid to brag about your program and experiences of current students. If there are currently international students on campus, have some of your most outgoing (and successful) international students meet with the potential student to share experiences first hand.
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