Since international students usually do not have the opportunity to visit our campuses, I spend a lot of time discussing the “atmosphere” of the campuses


International recruiting is not for the faint of heart. Though demanding and often grueling, it is also very rewarding. As an admissions counselor, I interact with students from all across the globe. By traveling overseas, I put a “face” to the name of the University and help many students realize their dream of studying in the United States. In a typical academic year, I will spend about four months abroad: from mid-September through early November and again from February through April.

Day 1: Departure

3:15 p.m. — I’m late! I spent most of the day in the office making last-minute preparations. Now I only have 30 minutes to finish packing for a two-month trip where the temperature can vary between 20 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit!

3:45 p.m. — My taxi to the airport arrives. After a couple of hours standing in various lines, I board my 7 p.m. flight for Amsterdam [the Netherlands].

Day 2: In Transit

7 a.m. (in Amsterdam) — I managed about two hours of sleep on the seven-hour trans-Atlantic flight and now have a seven-hour layover. I make my way to the nearest Internet hot spot and work for a few hours answering e-mail from prospective students before boarding my long flight for Dubai.

Day 3: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

12:35 a.m. — I finally arrive. After a long wait in customs, immigration and the baggage claim, I take a 20-minute taxi ride to my hotel. I check in and meet with the concierge to locate the boxes of FDU recruitment literature that I shipped ahead of me. Finally, at 3 a.m. — SLEEP!

6:30 a.m. — The dreaded alarm rings. Saturdays and Sundays are working days in the Middle East, so my schedule is busy! With the help of the hotel’s multilingual staff, my schedule is translated into Hindi and Arabic to help with taxi drivers. I depart at 8 a.m. for my first of four school visits.

9 a.m. — My driver skillfully negotiates his way to a well-hidden international high school. (Students in this school come from 50 different countries.) After meeting with the guidance staff, I spend time speaking with juniors and seniors.

10:30 a.m. — After a successful visit, I locate a taxi quite quickly. Unfortunately, the driver can neither read nor speak in English, Arabic or Hindi. With the kind assistance of a passerby, I communicate my destination and set off for my second visit. The American school is well secured, however I make my way through security and arrive just in time. After a quick meeting with the guidance counselor, I meet with some seniors. I met many of them when I visited the school last spring. After exchanging correspondence during the summer, they are now interested in applying to FDU. The guidance counselor is originally from New Jersey and is anxious to hear news from home, so we decide to have lunch.

12:45 p.m. — I locate a taxi and head to my next destination. I am greeted at the gate by the principal and guidance counselor. This school is the largest school in Dubai for Indian nationals (one of the largest populations in the city). About 200 students and parents have gathered to hear my presentation.

3 p.m. — I race to my final stop, the Educational Advising Office in the U.S. Embassy in Dubai. I have no trouble finding it, but security here is very tight. I meet with the advising staff, as well as two graduate students who have already applied to FDU.

4 p.m. — I hurry back to the hotel and arrive just in time for a briefing about the visa situation by a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy. Afterwards, I set up my booth for a college fair, where I meet about 500 undergraduate and graduate students interested in studying in the United States. Since international students usually do not have the opportunity to visit our campuses, I spend a lot of time discussing the “atmosphere” of the campuses in addition to the necessary admission details.

Many of these students are the first in their families — or even in their towns — to study in the United States.

10 p.m. — The fair concludes and I set off to dinner with recruiters from other universities. After dinner, I take a quick nap. My cell phone alarm wakes me at 1:30 a.m., and I set off for the airport.

Day 5: Hyderabad, India

3:45 a.m. — My flight for Hyderabad departs early in the morning. I arrive at the hotel at 11 a.m. After a quick shower, I travel to another hotel, where I give two presentations about FDU. I have meetings with the 170 students there who wish to apply for admission. The concerns of the students I speak with vary depending on where they are in the admissions process; therefore, I must be well versed in immigration procedures as well as the availability of admissions testing such as the SAT and GREs in each country. It is a long and complex procedure to apply to a U.S. university and subsequently apply for a visa, and many of these students are the first in their families — or even in their towns — to study in the United States.

11 p.m. — The majority of the Indian students attending FDU come from Southern India. FDU is very well known here. When I return to my hotel, I find 10 applications have been left at the front desk for me. I also have seven messages on my hotel voicemail from students who have tracked me down. With my name in FDU advertisements in the local newspapers, it is not hard to find me.

Day 8: New Delhi, India

7 a.m. — I enjoy breakfast with a guidance counselor from the largest and most renowned public school in India. My busy day includes visits to two local high schools and one American school. I then join a group of recruiters from U.S. universities traveling together with Linden Educational Services and participate in a major exhibition that attracts more than 1,500 students.

9 p.m. — After the busy fair concludes, I meet with two students who have already been admitted to FDU.

Day 10: Colombo, Sri Lanka

7 a.m. — I arrive in Colombo early in the morning. I check in and meet with the hotel event staff to finalize details for the FDU Admissions Seminar that I will host the following day. I visit the Fulbright office and three high schools before returning to the hotel.

4–8 p.m. — I manage to meet with 35 students in small groups in the hotel lobby. The concierge seems to think that I am some sort of celebrity, as everyone in Sri Lanka wants to meet me!

8 p.m. — The parents of my student assistant, Gayathri Attiken, who is from Colombo, meet me in the hotel lobby. During my last four visits to Sri Lanka, I have met most of her extended family. I enjoy the opportunity to bring them notes or gifts from their daughter; and they often send back something for her. We have a nice dinner at the hotel and are surprised by an anxious student who arrives with his completed application in hand.

10 p.m. — Just as I say goodbye to Gayathri’s family, I hear my name in the lobby. The parents of another current student have driven one and a half hours to see me. I met them last year, and they wanted to say hello. This is not unusual since, over the course of the admissions process and through the students’ arrival on campus, relationships build between students, their parents and me. Parents need to know that their son or daughter will be in good hands and that they have an official at the school that they know and trust. We spend about two hours talking and catching up.

Day 12: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

8 a.m. — I conduct about five individual interviews before leaving for the airport and Kuala Lumpur. In the evening, I participate in a college fair, where I meet about 300 students. I am excited to meet two FDU alumni who met at the University, married and now have a daughter attending our Metropolitan Campus. Later, at a university exhibition, they join me for a while to greet prospective students.

Day 13: Seoul, South Korea

6:30 a.m. — I depart Malaysia and fly almost eight hours to South Korea. Then, I navigate the local bus system, and somehow I manage to find my way to my hotel. The concierge immediately translates my schedule into Korean. I meet other recruiters — one from a large public university and one from a community college — and we depart for a U.S. military base in Seoul. We are the guest speakers at the Department of Defense high school PTA night. Later in the day, I represent the University for six hours at another college fair.

Day 52: New Jersey

It has been almost two months since I left home. I have been to 25 cities in 17 different countries. I have been through 15 time changes and flown more than 45,000 miles! All in all, it was a very successful trip; I met thousands of students. After a day of rest, I am back to the office to review applications and follow up with students and counselors. Soon, it will be time to travel again!

From Far and Wide | Vancouver Branch Campus
Of Life and Learning


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For a print copy of FDU Magazine, featuring this and other stories, contact Rebecca Maxon, editor,
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