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Reaching Out: College Representatives Travel the Globe, Recruiting Students and Spreading the Message of Chiropractic

JANUARY 18, 2001 - 
For prospective students from other countries, exploring and getting a feeling for a chiropractic college in the United States can be difficult and costly. And deciding to enroll in a U.S. school and moving to a new country can be quite intimidating. To better acquaint international prospective students with Sherman College and ease their concerns about moving to a new country, Vice President for Enrollment Services Frank E. Griffis, Jr., is bringing the college to them - by sending students, alumni and staff on recruiting trips abroad.

Many international students want to study in the U.S. because they like the American system of higher education and are aware of the good reputation of our colleges and universities,” Griffis said. “However, some students are reluctant to take the first step and apply to the college because they are anxious about living in a foreign land - even if they speak excellent English.” Many also are not very familiar with chiropractic.

To remedy the students’ uneasiness, Griffis has developed what he calls “relationship marketing strategies” - outreach activities designed to promote a two-way relationship between the college and prospective students early in their application process. He said Sherman College students and other representatives are essential to making these relationships work. “Students speak an international language, regardless of their country of origin. Prospective students trust other students. They share many of the same concerns and dreams,” Griffis said.

Puerto Rico
Third-quarter student Ricky Rodriguez spent his holiday break in his native Puerto Rico helping spread the word about the rewards of a chiropractic career and the benefits of attending Sherman College. He visited with prospective students and their families, and he also represented Sherman College at colleges and private high schools there. Prior to his trip, Rodriguez called several prospective students to arrange visits with them during his stay. He said the students were very excited about getting to talk to a current Sherman College student, especially one who speaks their language. “They were very surprised that I called,” he said. “They said that no other colleges are making this kind of effort.”

Director of Institutional Advancement Marggi Roldan also recently returned from a recruiting trip in Puerto Rico. She represented the college at a graduate career fair and college campus visits where she also spoke - in Spanish - to prospective students. “It’s great to be able to make face to face contact with prospective students living outside the U.S.,” she said. “We can mail them brochures and applications, but to be able talk to them in person is much more meaningful. By physically making the trip to Puerto Rico, we are increasing Sherman College’s presence there and getting the message of chiropractic out to more people. The students were impressed that we made the trip to their communities to speak with them personally.”

Roldan had help from Sherman College alumna Nylsa Correa, D.C., ’99, a native of Puerto Rico and one of six Sherman College graduates practicing on the island. “It helped tremendously to have Dr. Correa there with me to talk to prospective students,” Roldan said. “She was able to tell them first-hand about why she selected Sherman College and why she felt it was the best place for her straight chiropractic education, especially since she transferred to Sherman College from another chiropractic college. She also served as an excellent role model for the prospective students as a successful chiropractor practicing in their country.”

The small class size and personal attention students receive at Sherman College seemed to be very attractive to the people of Puerto Rico, who live on a heavily-populated island and are accustomed to much larger class sizes.

Roldan helped put prospective students’ parents at ease by talking to them individually. “I explained to parents that Sherman College has sympathetic students and staff who will help their children feel comfortable here,” she said. “Students and parents liked knowing that we help students find housing and roommates and get settled in the United States and in Spartanburg,” she said.

Since Puerto Rico has such a large population (nearly four million), Roldan says the island’s current number of fewer than 60 chiropractors just isn’t enough. “There is a great need for chiropractic in Puerto Rico,” she says. “Hopefully our efforts to recruit and graduate students from Puerto Rico will result in a larger number of chiropractors on the island and an increased awareness of the need for regular chiropractic care.”

Bryn Holm, D.C., ’00, also represented the college overseas recently when she returned to her native Germany and visited the Netherlands during the holiday break on a recruiting trip. Holm had pre-scheduled meetings with college-bound students and also made arrangements to speak to several biology and life science classes of students preparing for college. Overall, she gave 18 talks at 11 different schools and distributed Sherman College brochures and CD-ROMs.

Many of the students I spoke to had never heard of chiropractic because there are only about 40 chiropractors in Germany,” Holm said. “Within an hour’s time, I had to introduce a whole new profession to these students and then ask them to come to another country to study it. The experience was challenging, but it was also nice because the students had no misconceptions about what chiropractic is.”

Holm gave most of her talks in German, but did speak to two bilingual biology classes in English. Several students expressed concerns about studying in English, but Holm was able to ease some of those fears. “I told them the hardest part about studying in English is learning casual conversation phrases like ‘What’s up?’ Within a month or two, English becomes second nature - when you’re surrounded by the language, you learn it faster.”

Holm returned to the United States with the names and addresses of 83 students who want to learn more about Sherman College and straight chiropractic. “Quite a few of the students I talked to were interested in the health care professions, and they felt chiropractic could be an exciting and rewarding career choice,” she said. “The straight chiropractic philosophy made a lot of sense to them.”

Spanning the globe
Griffis said early indications show that the international recruiting trips will be successful. “Increasing the population of our international students will not only benefit Sherman College and expose our students to other cultures, but it will spread the straight chiropractic message around the world,” he said. “Hopefully these prospective students will become highly satisfied alumni who may return to their native countries and recruit more students to build the ranks of Sherman College alumni practicing in their home countries.”

Griffis takes a number of criteria into account when deciding which countries to visit: how many Sherman College alumni practice there, whether or not the country has any chiropractic colleges and whether those colleges place a ceiling on the number of new students accepted each year.

Griffis is working with the mother of a prospective student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - a high school counselor who has agreed to distribute Sherman College recruiting materials to her colleagues at various high schools there. He also plans to continue recruiting in Puerto Rico and Germany and is currently investigating a trip to Mexico.

Help us recruit students
If you are interested in assisting the college in international student recruitment as you travel for business or pleasure, please contact Frank Griffis, vice president for enrollment services at 800-849-8771, extension 1293, or at fgriffis@sherman.edu.

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