LIVE from AACRAO 2024: Supporting International Students' Decision-Making Through Pre-Admission Advising

April 9, 2024
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Advising
  • International

In her session, “Supporting International Students' Decision-Making Through Pre-Admission Advising,” Staci Bernhard, Assistant Director of Global Initiatives at Florida International University, shed light on the critical role of advising in helping prospective international students navigate the complexities of studying abroad. 

One of the key takeaways from the session was the pivotal role of pre-admission advising in guiding international students through their decision-making process. Ms. Bernhard emphasized that helping students select the right school and major is crucial but not limited to the typical association of the degree (e.g., not all business majors need to start a business). It's also beneficial to talk to incoming students about affordability and understanding the true cost of living in the city they’ve chosen.

Supporting Comprehensive Advising with Resources and Tools

Ms. Bernhard highlighted a range of resources and tools that facilitate comprehensive pre-admission advising. From providing lists of relevant cultural grocery stores to building communities with similar backgrounds, institutions can enhance the overall experience for international students. Ensuring that families are aware of on-campus support services is also essential for creating a supportive environment for international students.

Effective Communication and Collaboration Networks

Establishing effective communication and collaboration networks between educational institutions, advisors, prospective students, and their families emerged as a critical theme. Ms. Bernhard emphasized the importance of being available on communication channels that prospective students use, whether that is email, social media, or on chat apps. This accessibility ensures that students can easily connect with advisors and receive timely assistance throughout the admission process.

Another important aspect discussed was the language barrier in the context of applications and admissions. Ms. Bernhard stressed the importance of presenting information using terminology that prospective students understand, including using familiar terms when discussing requirements like transcripts and SAT’s/ACT’s. This approach fosters clarity and ensures that international students have a clear understanding of admission expectations.

Building Robust Networks for Advising

The session highlighted the significance of building robust networks for advising, and leveraging the resources provided from organizations like NACAC, IACAC, NAFSA, and AACRAO. These associations provide training and networking opportunities for advisors working with international students. Creating robust pipelines and networks helps advisors stay informed about best practices and emerging trends in pre-admission advising.

Educational institutions can empower prospective international students to make well-informed choices and embark on successful academic journeys abroad by providing effective guidance, leveraging resources, and establishing robust communication networks.


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