Recruitment for Courses Abroad

Effective recruitment strategies are essential in course abroad enrollment.

Program brochures and word-of-mouth are the most effective means of distributing the information on courses abroad. Active recruitment from faculty, PAs, and students, as well as an informative, interesting flier and Program Brochure, are necessities.

Feedback gathered over past years shows how students heard about their course abroad. Percentages reflect how often the category was chosen, and the question allowed students to check all categories that apply. The specific feedback below was taken from Winter Break 2009/2010 programs:

  • 44.8%—Study Abroad Website
  • 38.8%—Other students/returnees
  • 37.3%—Study Abroad Fair
  • 19.4%—Faculty member
  • 16.4%—Study Abroad Newsletter
  • 13.4%—Academic Advisor

Class & Organization Visits

Announce the program in classes or at registered student or other student organization meetings, pass out flyers, and share information with colleagues who can make announcements in their classes. SAO also does class visits, but they usually are not program-specific unless the application deadline has passed and we need to put a major push on a course abroad to fill it. If directors want help with class visits for their specific program, they should contact SAO.

Flier & Brochure Suggestions

LAS and SAO generate a one-page flier for handing out at class visits, fairs, and in the SAO Resource Room. LAS also produces a tri-fold brochure of all the courses abroad from LAS and this gets sent to parents and distributed on campus.

Web Page

LAS and SAO put together a web page for each course abroad, with the same design and logo as the flyer, although with greater detail. Applications and syllabi may be downloaded from the course web pages, making it easy for students to get information and forms. Web pages also make it easy to distribute information via e-newsletters.

Informational Meetings

This is one of the best ways to generate interest in the program, provided you have advertised well for the meeting. These meetings give students a chance to meet you, hear about the program in more detail, and ask any questions they may have about the program. They also provide you with an opportunity to generate a list of interested students with whom you can keep in contact via e-mail and phone. Be sure to invite past participants if the program has run before.

Past Participants

Returned study abroad students are incredibly effective recruiters for study abroad programs. Make use of students who have studied abroad in the region where your program will take place or who have been on your program in the past. These students can be instrumental in recruiting for your program through class/organization visits and in the development of orientation materials.


Email can be used in several ways. You can send program information in response to inquiries from students who have seen the program brochure, flyer, and website. You can also set up your own program listserv for past participants and prospective students, allowing prospective students to get their questions answered by their peers who have been there. A "nickname list" on your email software can make dissemination of program information and meetings convenient and can be easily updated.

Study Abroad Fair

Participate in, or provide brochures/program information for, the Study Abroad Office study abroad fairs (held in early September and early February). Engineering, ACES, and other colleges may also have fairs and events that could help promote your program.

Create a Bulletin Board Display

Colorful bulletin board displays in conspicuous places can direct students to Web sites, the SAO, or a faculty director. Pictures and flyers with course content, cost information, and dates help to make the display more effective.

Contact Academic Advisors in Your Department

Distribute information on courses abroad to academic advisors and other faculty in the sponsoring departments. Advisors and faculty in a sponsoring department may be encouraged to help in recruitment/distribution of information.

Keep Tabs on Interested Students

Keep a list of students who have shown an interest in a particular course abroad and send e-mails periodically to keep that interest alive. Contact these students especially before breaks.

Contact Campus Media

Contact the Daily Illini or Illinois International to have them write a story on your course abroad. Contact departmental newsletters with a brief description of the course and information directing interested parties to the website. Pictures always help to attract attention and feature stories are an added benefit.

Keep in Touch with Students

One of the primary reasons for withdrawals from a program is lack of contact by the faculty director. Even after students have signed up for the program, and submitted an application and a deposit, you must maintain regular contact with them in order to keep up enthusiasm and interest. There are many other options, including other study abroad programs, internships, jobs, and travel – all that can grab students' attention and cause them to drop out of your program. If you are concerned about retaining a minimum number of participants, hold their interest by occasional meetings and email updates.