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   usjournal.communiqué, April 2003: FAQs about usjournal.com's Services

How long have you been in business?

The U.S. Journal evolved from a costly print publication in the early 1990s to a much more efficient online approach in April 1996. From the very beginning, we've focused on one audience: prospective international students. We concentrate on the quality of leads from prospective students worldwide, and not the quantity. The U.S. Journal is not a simple directory of U.S. post-secondary academic options; our sponsors specifically seek to enroll non-U.S. students. We'll work with our advertisers to filter inquiries according to their individual specifications. We feature a rolling deadline so you can see results immediately!

usjournal.com CEO Cheryl Darrup-Boychuck has been an active NAFSA (Association for International Educators) member for years:

  • Consistently chairs and co-presents popular eRecruitment Sessions at NAFSA International and Regional Conferences
  • Regularly addresses non-U.S. student questions on Voice of America
  • Routinely contributes to industry publications, such as the Community College Journal and Advising Quarterly
  • Chaired and co-presented NAFSA's Best of Region VII Session in 1998
  • Presented a session nominated for NAFSA's Region VIII Highlight in 2000
  • Traveled to the Caribbean on a self-guided recruitment tour in January 2001, and met with both students and advisors
  • Participated in UCIEP's annual retreat on a Dude Ranch near San Antonio, Texas in February 2002
  • Accepted the distinguished award of Education Site of the Year from Yahoo! en Espaņol for EstudiosUSA.com, the Spanish sister site of usjournal.com.
  • Presented our unique concept of Project: Think Link at the in-country workshop held for EducationUSA advisors in Mexico City in February 2003.
  • Continues to lead the way in this dynamic industry of online international student recruitment.

What do you do, exactly?

The U.S. Journal of Academics is solely dedicated to encouraging non-U.S. students to learn more about U.S. educational opportunities. While our internet-based services provide a firm foundation, we also feature many additional perks that are included in our very reasonable prices: customized eMail campaigns to specific populations of our ever-increasing student database, invitations to meet with international education leaders, featured programs in our monthly student e-newsletters, and exposure in various media (such as Voice of America), as warranted. We feel confident that usjournal.com can successfully supplement international recruitment efforts on every campus in the country, via very targeted promotional campaigns.

The primary audience of usjournal.com includes students from around the world who are eager to learn more about academic options offered in the States. We provide valuable information about the often-complicated process of U.S. admissions. We offer dynamic news about visa regulations, travel advisories, and more. Our site is constantly evolving to accommodate the latest technologies!

Our objective is a high conversion rate of inquiries to actual enrollees, so sponsors don't waste valuable resources on candidates not likely to enroll. The limited number of advertisers on our site fosters a more exclusive representation of featured programs, when compared to other recruitment venues. Given our consistently high renewal rates, it's obvious that our sponsors truly appreciate our philosophy of quality-over-quantity.


What kinds of support services do you offer?

Our support services are pretty comprehensive, as we're always seeking new ways to enhance our advertisers' campaigns. That's why we never charge additional fees to modify English campaigns at any point throughout an advertiser's 12-month contract.

We also work to enhance your marketing plan in general. For example, one of the most cost-effective approaches that surfaced from one of our complimentary Marketing Retreats (at our headquarters in Mount Carmel, Pennsylania) involved a simple, offline campaign targeted in their own backyard. The English Language Program paid about $200 for business-card-sized promotional pieces (printed in Korean and English), and asked their star students to drop them off in the hot-spots of their communities -- such as the Korean-owned dry cleaners. Within a week, five students signed up for ELP classes as a direct result of those cards and that placement.

The bottom line: Our bread-and-butter is obviously online, but our ultimate objective is to help you succeed in any promotional capacity. We can help you set up very targeted pay-per-click campaigns on the world's major search engines, if that seems to be working for you. We can definitely envision the evolution of other creative twists on traditional campaigns, such as advertising on the online-equivalents of language-specific community newspapers or radio stations. The possibilities are truly limited only by our imaginations.


How much does it cost? Are your prices negotiable?

Firstly, no, our prices are not negotiable (unless the advertiser purchases five or more language translations). We do not discount our English campaigns, as our prices are already extremely competitive given our attention to detail and personalized follow-up.

Regarding costs: Our comprehensive, 12-month English campaign costs just $1,095. Please keep in mind that you're welcome to suggest modifications to any element of your usjournal.com ad campaign at any time, for no additional charge throughout our 12-month contract; just e-mail us with your suggestions, and we'll upload them into our system.

Our non-English campaigns are also gaining greatly in popularity. We recently launched nine different independent domains:

Our 12-month Western European language campaigns cost $1,425 each; and Asian languages cost $1,750 each. Of course, you may choose any combination of languages. For more sponsorship information: http://www.usjournal.com/en/educators/sponsor.html, or contact us by phone (570-339-4731) or e-mail, and we'll fax you our simple pricing and procedures paperwork.


I represent a small English Language Program. How can I effectively utilize your services?

There are many opportunities with us, depending on your own individual variables. We understand the current challenges of small English Language Programs in the U.S.A. today. In many cases, we encourage those types of advertisers to look more closely in your own backyard, even via the internet (as an increasing number of local prospective students are finding usjournal.com before finding our advertisers' own home pages! This phenomenon is due to the fact that we don't restrict our online promotions to non-U.S. sites.

There are several ways for small English Language Programs to effectively utilize our services -- ways that have improved the yield for other similar advertisers. For example, the University of Houston-Downtown ELI started advertising with us a few years ago, and promoted only their three English Language Programs. The first year, they advertised only in English. The second year, they dropped their English campaign due to tightened budgets, and purchased only Spanish (for $1,295.) The third year, UH-D was so pleased with their results that they added Taiwanese to their Spanish campaign.

The advantage of replacing your English campaign with a non-English campaign is that you're pretty well assured that the inquiries generated indeed need English language training. Spanish has been our strongest non-English language, in terms of inquiry generation, and the Asian languages are coming on strong. Of course, we highly recommend that you have a speaker of the languages you promote with us, who can nurture the prospective student through the enrollment funnel. You may also expand your program listings with us, for no additional charge. Rather than simply list three English Language options, you may promote your degree programs as well, all for the same cost of your 12-month campaign. Each advertiser's decision all seems to depend on the relationship of their English Language Program with International Admissions on their campuses. We can customize our services for each program listed; for example, we can forward undergrad inquiries to undergrad@state.edu, or grad inquiries to grad@state.edu or whatever, and forward ELP inquiries to your office. We can also customize our Automated Responses for each program; for degree programs, we can mention your minimum TOEFL score, then direct them to your ELP pages for more info.


All marketing and recruitment for our college is done by me, and I am a 1/2-time professional employee... (To elaborate on the question:) Time is very tight, and time does not permit me to become engaged in interesting, but time-consuming marketing projects. Further, under normal circumstances money is tight as well. In the present state of our state's budget, money is more than tight. So those are our practical realities. We look for partnerships / associations / advertising that involve minimal staff time for monitoring and response. Your programs strike me as more comprehensive and dynamic than we would be able to handle. Specifically, we would not want to become engaged with a partner if we did not have the staff time to provide for effective and timely follow-up... Can you provide promotional services that are easy on our own staff time? Can you simplify your program for us, so that we are getting just the core inquiries that we seek?

Actually, our campaigns are structured specifically for colleagues in that type of situation:

  • Once we receive your Advertising Options contract and Program Selection Page (via fax to 570-339-5634), I'll generate an invoice which will be due in 30 days.
  • During that time, you may send me specific text and images to post on your Info Page. Alternatively, I'll create your Info Page by extracting current info from your website. I'll send you a draft, so you can just review and edit it.
  • I'll also structure your Automated Responses to emulate successful campaigns we've seen in the past. I'll include text and links that explain in simple terms what the student needs to do next in the enrollment process. Some campuses choose to cut and paste their entire application form into our Auto Responses; there's no limit to the number of words or hyperlinks in our customized Automated Responses.
  • Some students needs more nurturing than others, so we'll send you monthly Excel Reports which compile all student inquiry activity generated by your usjournal.com campaign. The Report is in addition to the single-messages you'll receive a few minutes after the student expresses interest in your program, so you can quickly browse their additional comments section to see if that particular inquiry warrants more attention than others. Because our advertisers know that the student's inquiry has already been acknowledged, they only respond to the ones that want to enroll in the next three months, for example (our Expected Start Date is a mandatory data field). Many campuses use our Excel Reports to cut and paste student e-addresses into the BCC of reminder messages for upcoming deadlines or other pertinent dates. Others, of course, have much more elaborate systems such as feeding our info into a database and automatically tracking which documents they still need to submit to complete their application. The campus then sends out appropriate e-messages to that effect.

We truly understand the situation of over-worked, under-paid colleagues whose first priority is abiding by federal law (namely, SEVIS). In a perfect world, marketers / recruiters would respond-on-demand to every prospective student inquiry. That's simply not possible on many campuses, particularly those challenged in this dynamic world of international recruitment. We're here to help you help the student through your own specific enrollment funnel, so you spend time on those students at the narrow, yield end of the funnel -- those who are likely to enroll in your particular program.

The inquiries we send you are already filtered; students who use usjournal.com must select specific U.S. campuses from which to inquire: There is no one-click method to request info about hundreds of campuses. As a matter of fact, about 35 percent of our student traffic inquire about just one campus.

We've always focused on quality more than quantity of inquiries, and we realize that type of approach is more important now than ever before. Our staff is readily available to discuss any of these dynamic (but ultimately simple for you) mechanisms.


How many hits does your site get?

We actually get thousands of impressions per day, but we're much more interested in the number of qualified student inquiries we forward to our advertisers. As we mentioned above, about 35 percent of our student traffic inquire about just one advertising campus; we do not mass-distribute our student data to all of our advertisers. In marketing terms, we believe that the pull method is much more effective than the push method.

Please review our current sponsor listing. You're welcome to contact any of our current advertisers yourself, to inquire about their level of satisfaction with our services.


How would prospective students find us within your site?

Students browse our site, and inquire about individual programs in one of four ways:

  • Via an advertiser's Internal Link from the left column on our home page (additional $350 per year), which leads to the advertiser's Info Page within usjournal.com.
  • Via an advertiser's External Link from the right column on our home page (additional $650 per year), which leads to the advertiser's independent domain outside of usjournal.com. With External Links, we can track only the number of click-throughs, but no particular demographic data.
  • By selecting specific programs resulting from their specific criteria input on our selection page (in English or other languages).
  • Via our sophisticated internal search mechanism, found at the top right corner of every page within usjournal.com.

A prospective student must specify their academic and degree preferences at a particular campus that interests him / her, and complete the 20 or so data fields on our inquiry form in order for their inquiry to be forwarded on to our advertiser. That info is forwarded in two ways:

  • Within five minutes after the student clicks our submit button, a simple e-message with that data is automatically forwarded to the advertiser's specified forwarding e-address (we can customize the forwarding e-address and Auto-Response for each one of the advertiser's academic programs).
  • That same data is automatically fed into our database, which generates specific advertiser Excel Reports (sent as e-attachments to a specified e-address) a few minutes after midnight on the last day of each month or quarter (according to advertiser preference). These reports compile all prospective student inquiry activity specifically for that advertiser.

Another way that prospective students find particular advertisers within our site is via our global online campaigns, where we automatically direct users to specific links within our site according to the keywords / key phrases they input in popular search engines around the world. For more information about these pay-per-click promotions, please e-mail us.


When I'm on your French sister site, how come the search result listings come up en anglais?

Interest from both students and advertisers dictate the depth of our language translations, and we refresh that content and supplement it regularly. Advertisers who choose any of our non-English services have the option of translating their entire campaign, including their Info Page, Program Listings and Automated Responses. Or they may simply wish to translate their Info Page, and maintain an English inquiry form. Again, the strategy depends on that particular advertiser's staff language capabilities, as well as the level of English proficiency they're seeking. Some advertisers prefer that their inquiring students can navigate an English inquiry form, while others will accept very elementary learners of English who prefer to complete an inquiry form in their native language.

So, for now, we're listing the French results in English. As interest grows, we'll continue to translate more French content (Financial Aid, Visa Regulations, TOEFL, for example). Eventually, all of our non-English pages will function completely in those particular languages.

We're using our successful Spanish sister site, EstudiosUSA.com as a model. In May 2002, we assigned a former Overseas Advisor from Santiago to maintain that site; for example, she chats with students in Spanish and responds to their inquiries in Spanish. We intend to clone her for all of our other non-English languages!


Who are your most successful advertisers, in terms of inquiry-to-enrollee yield?

Quite frankly: Academic institutions deemed for-profit have nearly mastered effective communications plans to filter prospective students through their Enrollment Funnel. For example, one current usjournal.com advertiser (a fully-accredited, online-only university) admitted and enrolled 39 out of 773 usjournal.com inquiries in 2002, along with a few more who are on the verge of moving from application to enrollment.

Now, I know how some members of academia regard these for-profit organizations. Before rushing to judgment, consider these comments from stamats.com, a research institution dedicated to serving U.S. higher education: Recently, I had a chance to read one of those paradigm-rattling books that we sometimes ignore because they play havoc with our cherished order. The book was Richard S. Ruch's Higher Ed, Inc.: The Rise of the For-Profit University (Johns Hopkins Press, 2001). Ruch, who has served as a dean at both not-for-profits and for-profits begins by noting that much of traditional higher education has dismissed for-profits as legitimate players because they simply do not want to deal with changing markets and changing student expectations. He stresses that most proprietary schools fill a vital and appreciated role in the marketplace and to ignore them is to likely imperil your own institution. Interestingly, he says that the descriptors for-profit and not-for-profit are relics, and tend to serve traditional colleges. He notes, for example, that not-for-profits try to create a budget surplus each year that, at any other instance, it would be called a profit. Realistically, he says, they should be termed tax-paying and tax-exempt. Food for thought.


How do I sign up? What are my responsibilities for launching a campaign with you?

To become a usjournal.com sponsor, complete the forms (.pdf files) found at
http://www.usjournal.com/en/educators/sponsor.html
Then fax them to 570-339-5634, and we will begin working on your campaign.

Alternatively, just call Cheryl at 570-339-4731, or write to cheryl@usjournal.com, and we'll fax you our simple pricing and procedures paperwork.

Then, please review our Glossary, complete the Advertising Options Sheet and Programs Selection Chart, and fax it back to 570-339-5634. We will invoice you upon receipt of the completed form. Payment is due 30 days after the date of your invoice.

During that time, we will begin working on your campaign, so that everything will be functional when we receive your check. Please provide us with appropriate text and images for your Info Page, via e-mail. Alternatively, I will create a draft for your review. Once we post a draft of the advertisement, you and I will correspond via e-mail or phone until you are satisfied with the presentation of the campaign. Please keep in mind that there is no charge for any modifications to the English version of your ad throughout the course of our 12-month contract. There is no charge to modify the non-English version of your ad, either, so long as you supply the appropriate translated text. Also note that you are responsible for notifying us of any changes to internet addresses, e-mail addresses, or any other information included in your campaign.

The objective of the U.S. Journal is to provide you with qualified student inquiries -- candidates likely to enroll in your particular programs. We are very interested in knowing the ratio of our prospective students to your actual enrollees. Immediate online response is one documented way to convert a prospective student's interest into action. As a result, we have implemented our own copyrighted code that allows each advertiser to customize Automated Responses for each academic program featured at the Journal. Please e-mail responses to cheryl@usjournal.com.

You may consider enhancing your online exposure at the U.S. Journal of Academics with a banner, or by adding translations of your Info Page into targeted languages. Non-native English speakers now comprise about 65 percent of the world's internet users -- which represents an enormous opportunity for U.S.-based English language programs!

For a complete explanation of our value-added services, please review our Sponsorship Page. Stay tuned to that page for updates, as we continue to lead the way in this dynamic industry of online international student recruitment.


We're dedicated to keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry; the U.S. Journal of Academics has been leading the way in online international student recruitment for years. We would be delighted to assist you in enhancing your global promotional efforts. Call us at 570-339-4731, or e-mail cheryl@usjournal.com for more info.

You are welcome to re-print this usjournal.communiqué in full, under the condition that you include "Reprinted with permission of Cheryl Darrup-Boychuck, usjournal.com LLC, cheryl@usjournal.com."

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