The 2015-2016 school year serves as a record year for international student enrollment at Huntington University.
“Having international students as a part of the HU community is significant,” said Daniel Solms, vice president for enrollment management & marketing. “It helps to broaden the worldview of our entire campus community. Engaging with students from Europe, Asia, South America, etc. allows our students, as well as faculty and staff, to better understand the world we live in, helping us to become better at relating to others and assisting with world concerns.”
According to Shoshannah McKinney, associate director of the Institute for TESOL Studies and international admissions counselor, there are currently 23 new incoming international students, representing 16 different countries. International students are considered to be any student coming from outside the United States. They may be students with international citizenship or students who are U.S. citizens living abroad. The total number of international students on campus for the 2015-2016 school year consists of 47 students representing 24 different countries.
“International students choose Huntington University for similar reasons as our domestic students,” Solms said. “They seek opportunities to grow and develop intellectually and spiritually in an environment where they are accepted to be who they are and where they can be a positive part of the community.”
Serving as the international admissions counselor for the past three years, McKinney has seen a steady enrollment rise of 37 international students to 42 international students followed by 43 international students and now this year’s 47 international students.
“The key catalyst that has helped grow the international population on campus in the past few years is having someone, namely me, designated to international recruitment and admissions,” McKinney said. “Prior to me being in this role, international admissions was absorbed by other admissions counselors and there was not a focused effort to recruit or support those students. Even though I have a dual role at HU and my role in admissions is technically part time, my sole region or territory is focused on international students, so I can give those prospective students a lot more focus and attention and walk them through the process, which is much different than that of a domestic student.”
Huntington University has gained international students through athletic recruitment, word-of-mouth from alumni and the HU website. HU has also had a focused recruitment effort in China for the past three years. Due to the partnerships that the University already had with schools and individuals in China as a part of its TESOL programs and McKinney’s personal experience living in China, the University decided to build on existing partnerships, as well as build new ones, with the purpose of recruiting students to HU.
“We have definitely seen the fruit of that effort because as of the 2011-2012 academic year, there were no Chinese students at HU, and there hadn’t been for several years” McKinney said. “Over the last three years, however, we’ve had eight full-time Chinese students study at HU, 22 Chinese university students and professors come to HU for TESOL Certification, and 12 Chinese high school students visit HU for one month during January Term.”
In addition to these recruitment efforts, Huntington University has also expanded (and continues to expand) services for international students. The international orientation programming was expanded, which began an international mentor program and prompted a conversation to develop a partner program to allow opportunities for students to practice English with native speaking students. This year launches the Intensive English Program, which will allow the University to accept students that it would not have been able to previously accept and to support students that need additional tutoring and support with the English language as they begin their classes.
“Having this population at HU meets a missional goal of the University to offer these students a quality, Christ-centered education and prepare them to go back out into the world,” McKinney said. “It also brings the world to HU in a sense and allows our domestics students, faculty and staff a cross-cultural experience right here. This better prepares them to go into the world to be all things to all people and to be loving and compassionate representatives of Christ. The other impact on the University, however, is that we have a responsibility to support this population. The process, needs and desires of an international student population are very different than those of domestic students. As their welcoming institution, we are responsible to meet those needs and support them while they’re here.”