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MIT Seeks to Reverse Decline in Int’ls

By Tiffany Chen


The Admissions Office plans to adjust recruitment of international undergraduate students in response to a decrease in the yield and number of applicants in the Class of 2008, said Lorelle Espinosa, Director of Recruitment for the Admissions Office.

Espinosa said MIT has not normally had a particular need to recruit international students because of the usually large number of international applicants, but this year was unusual, she said.

Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, Director of International Students Office and Associate Dean for Graduate Students said this drop in number of international students is “worrisome” and of “great concern” because MIT wants to attract “the best of the best.”

Office responds to drop

Espinosa said that the Admissions Office is still in the process of determining how they will change recruitment to improve yields. Educational counselors, alumni who help applicants through the application process, and alumni who live overseas may play a larger role in recruitment, she said.

Espinosa said that the Admissions Office is still determining which countries experienced the greatest drop in applicants so that it can plan focus its recruitment efforts. Furthermore, Espinosa said that Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones will also be more involved in international admissions and recruitment.

Of 101 international students for the Class of 2008 admitted, 68 enrolled. By contrast, 79 and 94 international students enrolled in 2002 and 2001, respectively.

“We are capped at admitting around 100 [international students] each year,” Espinosa wrote in an e-mail. “International students are not entitled to federal aid, which limits our ability to meet full need.”

Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, director of International Students Office and associate dean for graduate students, said that a possible reason for the drop in international students may be problems with student visas.

She said that obtaining a student visa takes time but is often not hard provided that students have sufficient funding and have few relatives in the United States, especially since suspicion the person may improperly use the visa to immigrate can be an obstacle.

Nevertheless, sometimes MIT students do get detained by security checks, which take at least six weeks to resolve. Guichard-Ashbrook said that this is rare; only approximately five MIT students this year have been delayed because of these security checks.

Espinosa said that the drop in international applicants and yields may also be due to the “political climate of post-9/11,” which may make the United States appear less hospitable to international students.

Programs help to recruit

MIT has had recent success with using targeted recruitment to attract minority students to apply for admission.

As part of the Student Minority Admissions Recruiting Team (SMART) program, MIT pays for students to fly home during breaks to recruit high school students, attend admitted student parties, and help convince admitted students attend MIT.

Many of the other minority recruitment programs also complement mainstream recruitment programs. During Campus Preview Weekend, when many admitted students visit MIT, minority students are matched up with appropriate hosts. Espinosa said there are also activities designed especially for minority students available during CPW.

Besides active recruitment, Espinosa said the new MIT admissions Web site, MyMIT, was another way to help attract students. Because MyMIT is customized to various groups, such as international students and minorities, the new Web site can help address issues particular to certain applicant groups.