Bridging Thousand-Mile Conversations with DePauw’s International Admissions

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Photo courtesy of DePauw University

After welcoming a vibrant cohort of prospective Tigers, DePauw University has hosted several admitted student events to introduce them to everything the campus community can offer. Yet for international students, their first glimpse of the DePauw experience is confined within their computer screens and online brochures. To bridge the thousand-mile gap from Greencastle to each student’s home country, DePauw’s International Admissions team conducts various events to foster a more diverse and inclusive student body.

“There’s only two of us who are international admissions counselors and we review over 3,000 applications, so it takes a lot [of work],” Honey Lian, DePauw’s assistant director of International Admission, said. “We do everything from recruiting and the immigration process, so every month it’s a different task for me.”

Throughout the past months, Lian has been involved with numerous international student events including student panels, faculty panels, and virtual receptions. Some countries will also have particular receptions geared toward their students, due to the high number of applications received. 

“On [March 25], we will have a virtual reception for Japanese students in collaboration with the Japanese Alumni Chapter in Tokyo and the J-Club at DePauw…we’ll also do two in-person receptions in Vietnam—one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi,” Lian added. “But, we do want to extend the events based on the applications that we get, so since we have a good number this year for Korea, we’ll do receptions for admitted students as well as school visits.”

Aside from in-person events, Lian handles several online events for international students from other countries, especially due to COVID-19 restrictions. This also led to the admissions team’s involvement in virtual college fairs. However, this made it difficult for Honey to connect with prospective students.

“In a virtual setting, students are more timid and shy to do video calls…for students that are not that interested, they would write questions [in the chatbox such as] ‘Do you have this major?’ or ‘Do you give out financial aid to international students?’ If we say no, that we don’t provide full need, they would lose interest and just move on to other schools and ask the same thing.”

To help admissions counselors with event management and online communications, student interns such as first-year Jaewoo Seong work closely with the DePauw admissions team to establish stronger relationships with international students. 

“I personally love this job…one reason why I really enjoy doing this is actually connecting with students; it helps me with both job-wise and personality-wise as it helps me become more extroverted,” he said.

Seong also enjoys the flexibility of his internship tasks, especially as he works on his own passion projects.

“For example, for my first project, I have been writing a vlog for Korea because I’m from Korea as well. So [working on projects] targeting a specific region is something I can really do well,” he said. “The DePauw website is very good, but it’s targeted to college students, so it’s very hard to understand [for internationals.] So I try to interview directors and executive boards…to connect them directly to faculty members.”

To encourage more international students to enroll in DePauw, Seong has a predetermined list of questions to help him learn more about students’ academic interests, which usually involved economics, computer science, and biology. 

“Compared to other liberal arts colleges, DePauw supports [international students] really well. I’ve done my research with other schools, and the way you determine [the support received] is the number of students studying [a certain major]...We also have Management Fellows, Media Fellows, and Environmental Fellows…and that’s a key benefit of going to DePauw, where you can both study STEM majors but also get the support and the liberal arts education.”

He further emphasized the helpful and inclusive nature of the DePauw community, where he finds that students and faculty members would go out on a limb to help others resolve any academic, residential, or personal issues they experience. 

Lian also shared how she frequently encourages international students to choose a smaller school for their undergraduate degree, then enroll in a big university to pursue their Master’s degree. She attributes this to the fact that support systems are not readily available in larger institutions of 10,000 to 20,000 students, where international students would not feel as included in the school community.

“I’ve only been here for one and a half years, so the [Class of 2026] is the first class I’ve recruited…so with other students that I really connected with, we’d do a call and help them as well. Eventually, they’d end up coming to DePauw, and [now I see them] thriving. I think that’s the most rewarding thing for me, knowing that they choose a good school that fits well with them,” Lian said.