CIS Student Recruitment Tours – My Personal Journey
by Nunana Nyomi, Assistant Director of Higher Education Services, Council of International Schools
Since I joined CIS, I have had the privilege of working with our volunteer higher education committees to set up and promote CIS Student Recruitment Tours all over the world. As a former international admissions professional, I know the challenge of trying to get the maximum impact with limited student recruitment resources. I am convinced, through my experiences, that CIS tours provide the best potential for institutions and individuals to meet their internationalization goals.
Prior to my employment with CIS, I participated as a university representative on the 2014 CIS Africa Tour. I was struck by the meticulous planning and strong leadership that was provided. The tour director and assistant tour directors were experienced admissions officers who had a strong grasp of the region. Visits were thoughtfully planned to cater to our needs from an institutional perspective. I remember feeling amazed by the superb quality of the schools we visited and by the meaningful interactions I had with inquisitive students. None of this would have been possible without great organization by the tour directors.
The tour directors worked closely with a travel management professional from Wren and Fida International who traveled with us and made sure that all of our logistical needs were met. When we arrived at our hotel accommodations, group check-ins had already been pre-arranged. Transfers were handled very smoothly. Even with tight connections, great care was taken to coordinate luggage drop offs ahead of time. I found that every last detail was considered, I didn’t even have to pay airport tax fees which are common in the region because Wren and Fida had already arranged to provide cash for that purpose.
Since CIS Tours consist of seasoned admissions professionals, they provided an excellent opportunity to network professionally and exchange ideas concerning international recruitment. There was fantastic camaraderie among us participants and I made lasting friendships from the tour. We even have a Facebook group through which we continue to stay in contact with each other. It’s also fun to meet in person whenever we find ourselves in the same part of the world. Just last month, I had dinner with one of my friends from the tour because I happened to be passing through her hometown. This great community has helped me develop both personally and professionally in meaningful ways.
The most impactful part of the CIS tour experience was how the organization engaged with schools. CIS has an impressive network of member international schools and other well-respected national schools which makes a huge difference in the visit. The students I engaged with were high quality and eager to study abroad. What made these visits even more meaningful was that the visits were purposefully designed to put the students’ and schools’ needs first. At every stop, CIS made it an educational experience by having us representatives provide mini-presentations to students on topics such as financial aid, the application process, how students are selected, etc. Extra effort was made to ensure that the host school counsellor received a token of appreciation. Informational packets were provided to all school counsellors that attended. Due to the collegiality we all had, university representatives always worked to connect students with universities on tour that were the right fit for the interests they had. As a result, I felt like we were oriented toward truly serving the students’ interests. It wasn’t just about generating large numbers of student inquiries. Rather, it was about having good quality conversations with students.
Of course, the true impact of a tour isn’t felt until you return home. I can gladly say that I saw an increase in applications from the locations I visited on the tour. Furthermore, I established some great relationships in places that had not been visited by my institution before. Thus, the institutional footprint and reputation grew from my experience.
As a participant, I left the tour with an admiration for CIS which led to my pursuit of the current position I hold. However, my admiration paled in comparison to what I discovered when I joined CIS as Assistant Director of Higher Education Services. At CIS, our professional staff rely on our volunteer admissions professionals to lead tours. Few people know the level of commitment and behind-the-scenes work these committee members put in to preparing these tours. It was mind-blowing to me.
Committees meet twice a year to plan tour activities and exchange ideas. In between that period, our tour directors and committees are busy connecting with schools, dialoguing with travel service providers, and consulting with the CIS office to put together a seamless tour. Surveys are conducted of all the tours and that feedback, along with the tour director’s report, is pored over to see what can be improved for future tours. Everyone does their best to ensure that the experience is fruitful and serves the best interests of the universities, the schools, and the students. It’s an honor to collaborate with the selflessly committed volunteers that bring these tours together.
I have come a long way since I first participated in that CIS tour two years ago. It’s fulfilling to play a role in setting the foundation to connect emerging global citizens with the universities of their choice. My experiences have shown me the outstanding level of care that goes into making these tours successful. I encourage you to take a look at the upcoming CIS Tours we are offering later in the year. You’ll definitely have a memorable and fruitful time!
Hear from two Tour Directors about why they became involved in CIS Student Recruitment Tours:
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