Though 12 percent of undergraduates are international, Princeton has historically struggled to attract international students who don’t have previous connections to America, according to Ed Rogers ’87, president of the Princeton Club of Japan — many international students come from American families or attend American international schools. According to alumni leaders, in the 2000s and 2010s, the university and alumni have expanded recruitment efforts to reach a more diverse pool of international applicants. The Daily Princetonian spoke with alumni in Asia about the evolution of recruitment abroad.
In the past, recruitment in the region has had a relatively narrow reach. According to Rogers, applicants from Japan were often legacy students from elite international high schools.
“The admissions process engaged with the children of ex-patriots from diplomatic or business communities,” he said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ He noted a similarity to domestic admissions in the historic emphasis on private schools.
Beyond social status, language barriers have also limited recruitment in Asia. Applicants who do not speak English as their first language, or as their high school’s language of instruction, are required to submit an additional test showing proficiency.
“From non-English-speaking countries like Taiwan, you find that more and more applicants will come from international schools,” said Heather Carmichael ’00, who previously served as chair of the Alumni Schools Committee chapter in Singapore, in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ Because Singapore is an English-speaking country, language has not been a barrier to outreach.
Private international schools in Asia cater to a multinational student body, typically with fewer regional students than local high schools, and with instruction often being in English.
In the past, the admissions office did not send representatives abroad for local recruitment. “It relied a lot on alumni to just go to college fairs to speak with students,” Carmichael said, “or go to different high schools by setting up a booth.”
Over the last 20 years, the University began sending admissions representatives to Singapore and Japan to “broaden the footprint” of its recruiting. This campaign has also bolstered the involvement of local alumni networks.
For one, the Princeton Club of Japan, has expanded its infrastructure for recruitment in collaboration with University representatives. Both alumni and admissions representatives participate in college fairs throughout the country. A premier event is the annual Ivy League panel at the high-ranking Tokyo high school, The Kaisei Academy, which has since sent three local students to Princeton. According to Rogers, the first year around 700 prospective students and families attended.
Rogers also noted the U.S-Japan Council, a nonprofit organization that sponsors Japanese students to study in the United States, has increased access for Princeton applicants.
In the past academic year, 10 enrolled students were from Japan.
The Alumni Association of Singapore has also increased its outreach. The association began the Princeton Book Awards, a distinction given to local high school students for academic achievement and community service.
“The idea is that somebody who wins this award, presumably a very qualified student, will then be inclined to apply to Princeton,” Carmichael said.
In the past two decades, the number of Singaporean applicants rose from 170 to around 300. Last year, 11 students from Singapore were enrolled at Princeton.
In India, which had 44 students at Princeton last year, alumni recruitment has involved identifying talented students and encouraging them to apply.
“Certainly, we will recommend that they apply to Princeton if we encounter someone with a special talent in squash or science fair,” Shiv Siddhant Kaul ’03, president of the Princeton Club of India, said, “but there’s no structured mechanism to do that.”
Ultimately, Kaul is optimistic about increasing diversity in international students. “Each year the number of applicants keeps expanding,” he said, “and the applicants cover a wide spectrum from all over the country.”
Benjamin Patron is a contributing Features writer for the ‘Prince.’
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