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New York, U.S.A. — International students seeking to attend an American higher education institution differ by academic preparedness and financial resources. These differences impact their preferences and information-seeking behavior during college search according to a new report from World Education Services (WES)–a New York-based non-profit with over 35 years of experience in international education research and credential evaluation.
The publication of “Not All International Students Are the Same: Understanding Segments, Mapping Behavior” presents findings from a survey of international students in the process of applying to U.S. colleges and universities. The survey, which was administered from October 2011 to March 2012, received responses from nearly 1,600 prospective international students from 115 countries.
The report identified four distinct international student segments based on academic preparedness and financial resources: Strivers, Strugglers, Explorers and Highfliers.
Strivers form the traditional segment of students coming to the U.S. They are highly prepared for academic work and expect to receive financial aid from their host institution. In contrast, Explorers form an emerging segment of students who can cover tuition fees but are not fully prepared for college-level coursework, indicating their need for academic support, particularly in English language training.
Highfliers are the most sought after as they are academically prepared and financially able. However, their attraction to a narrow circle of top-ranked institutions makes it difficult for lower ranked institutions to compete for them. Strugglers are less selective about their college choice, but they require additional pre- and post-enrollment assistance and have less access to financial resources.
The study found that just one-sixth of the survey respondents reported that they had used an recruitment agent during their college search. Student segments with lower academic preparedness—Explorers and Strugglers—were found to be more likely to use agent services.
“Segment-based information makes higher education institutions more aware that choice of recruitment and information channels should be mapped with the student segment they are interested in recruiting. This also means that the debate of using or not using commission-based recruitment agents should be grounded in an understanding of the agent-using student segments and an assessment of its implications on institutional capacities and priorities,” says Dr. Rahul Choudaha, director of WES Research & Advisory Services and author of the study.