College officials are preparing to welcome a pair of students from the African country to the downtown campus in the coming weeks after forming relationships with six international institutions this summer — the latest steps the college has undertaken to increase its international presence in hopes of bolstering declining enrollment and offering students a more well-rounded education.

Source: SUNY Schenectady bolsters international presence amid declining enrollment – The Daily Gazette

Two issues here

  1. The declining enrollment due to a shrinking college age population amid low unemployment/high wages, leading to some questioning the ROI of expensive college educations.
  2. The importation of international students to bolster enrollment.

As mentioned in prior posts, the population shrinkage population is a global phenomenon, limiting the supply of students everywhere. But for many, an education at a premiere or even 2nd tier university in North America or Europe is a prized opportunity for personal growth and future success.

There is a corollary on this as well – that is, by definition students from abroad already have a global perspective that many Americans do not have. There is a joke you may have heard:

  • What do you call a person who speaks multiple languages? A polyglot.
  • What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
  • What do you call someone that speaks only one language? An American.

For some time, I have been observing the critical importance of developing international skills and mindset, something which I lack. I did not travel to Europe for the first time until June of 2022 – and I am over 60! (See my Travel blog for lots more on this topic).

I noticed 100% of my prior managers had substantial global experience. With LinkedIn, I can see that the overwhelming majority of past professional colleagues had global experience.  Close to100% of former colleagues who moved up, many to VP or Director level positions, had international experience. Obviously, this depends on the industry and the business – but it is clear global skills are critical to anyone with ambition.

Now – will the declining number of U.S. college students be more likely to seek study abroad or internships abroad? Or will this work in reverse – more international students will come to the U.S.? Will U.S. students develop the needed global skills for the 21st century? Will international study abroad become online Zoom classes without “in country” presence?

I do not know the answer to those questions, but I am confident global skills will be critical to career success the rest of this century.

Coldstreams Skeptic