By: Maria Monteros
For the first time, Trevecca’s admissions team has expanded international student recruitment in Asia.
Maria Petty, international admissions counselor, traveled to Vietnam, Sri Lanka and South Korea earlier last semester in search of prospective students.
As Trevecca’s only international recruiter, Petty visited about 35 schools from five countries. The university had also kept ties with schools in Honduras and India as they returned to invite students for the fourth and third time respectively.
“The goal is to have quality relationships, obviously with the students, but also with the schools and the counselors,” said Petty. “Just like how you’re not going to send your kid over to someone’s house that you don’t know, you’re not going to send your kid to a country or a school that the counselor doesn’t know.”
The effort to increase the number of international students dates back to 2014 when only about 20 international students attended Trevecca. The first phase of recruitment began in Honduras. Four years later, 33 out of 69 Trevecca international students are from Honduras.
As the university extends their reach in the Asian market, they intend to apply the same model they used in Honduras.
“It was just something that we had a heart and a passion for,” said Holly Whitby, associate provost and dean of enrollment. “When you look across what you want your student body to look like, you want it to be a mirror or representation of what the United States population looks like.”
Trevecca currently has 17 Asian traditional undergraduates or about 1 percent of the student population.
With $15,000 invested in this project, the admissions team makes five trips abroad every year to put the recruitment plan into action.
In areas where students aren’t familiar with Trevecca, Petty said the most challenging part is gaining public awareness.
“We attract students the same way we attract locally except a lot of local students have heard of Trevecca,” said Petty. “There are not too many universities that recruit internationally and so that’s something that does make us a little bit different.”
Trevecca’s progress in each country can vary. And as the demand for American college degrees continues to grow, Melinda Miller, executive director of traditional undergraduate admissions, said Trevecca has caught the attention of Asian students.
“There is a lot of interest in Asian countries,” said Miller. “We used the natural existing relationships we had to help us gain access to those areas.”
Abbie Giron, sophomore special education major, still remembers how that interest felt the day she decided to leave her hometown in Honduras to study in Trevecca.
“The only thing I knew about Nashville was that it’s the music city and Percy Jackson was in the Parthenon,” said Giron. “Trevecca seemed like a dream. When I saw that recruiting video, I thought I wanted to be that one girl walking through downtown.”
Unlike locals, international students can’t apply to federal financial aid programs. And with travel expenses, tuition and miscellaneous fees combined, Giron said the price of attending college abroad is the deciding factor for international students.
“In future applicants, we try and have those conversations with families because they don’t have the same financial opportunities as U.S. citizens do,” said Petty. “We try and work with people individually.”
At Trevecca, international students are eligible for the same institutional scholarships offered to any undergraduate applicant if they meet the requirement.
As Trevecca continues to establish connections in various parts of the world, the team has set the goal of admitting 25 international students this fall.
“We’re expanding because in order to do well you have to have multiple strategies going at one time,” said Whitby. “We have multiple strategies to grow Trevecca and this is just one wood column of a bunch of wood columns.”