Home away from home
July 13, 2023
It’s not a glamorous life, living out of a suitcase. The days are long; the jetlag, brutal. But, for members of the international student recruitment team at UD, traversing the globe is more than a job. It’s a calling.
“Diversifying campus — and society — is what I jump out of bed for everyday,” says Song Hoffman, director of international admissions. A Beijing native, she joined the Blue Hen community nine years ago, when the majority of UD’s international students hailed from China. Her mission: Help develop a recruitment strategy to put UD on the global map.
The approach builds upon UD’s unique global 360-degree strategy that is almost unheard of in the industry. In addition to sending admissions officers overseas to evangelize about the University (aka, the traditional model), UD also collaborates with representatives from various units: the Center for Global Programs and Services, Career Services, Student Life, Alumni Relations and more. In nearly 20 countries per year, prospective students from Nepal to Nigeria glean a holistic view of life as a Blue Hen—from admissions to graduation and beyond—as well as the plethora of support programs available along the way.
“UD’s global 360-degree strategy emphasizes the total immersive engagement of UD during the entire student life cycle," Hoffman says. "It is the most innovative and entrepreneurial approach I have seen during my 25 years in the industry."
The strategy works. UD’s international student population—more than 3,000 Blue Hens from over 70 countries—increased by 172% from 2009 to 2020. The result is a truly internationalized campus community, rich in opportunities for cross-cultural learning. Take the International Coffee Hour, a weekly event in which American students regularly mingle with peers from Poland, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. Or the iHouse Living and Learning Community, where international students bunk alongside undergraduates raised in the U.S. Through these and other initiatives, unlikely friendships are forged. Networks are expanded. And, most crucially, global-minded citizens are born.
This is what makes the jetlag worthwhile, Hoffman says: “These are the experiences that change lives.”