15 March 2017

US students: Adventurers and Future Makers

In February, Lewis Gibson, ENZ’s International Advisor, spent a week in Los Angeles and Texas as a “road warrior” – study abroad providers who venture from state to state, fair to fair, in an effort to drive study abroad students to their region.

Persona Images Page 2
ENZ’s international student personas. L-R: Adventurer, Searcher, Contributor, Future Maker.

When talking to American students, Lewis found that most held positive views of New Zealand, but lacked any specific details of what study in New Zealand involved. It got him thinking about the four international student personas and, for the most part, Lewis said US study abroad students fall into two categories – Adventurers and Future Makers.

The Adventurer persona

The Adventurer persona

“Adventurers are students who see study abroad as an opportunity to experience new things and places, and to have fun while learning more about themselves,” explained Lewis.

“Most of my time with these students was spent mapping out the closest mountains to their university of choice, or explaining how to road trip around the country.“Adventurers are students who see study abroad as an opportunity to experience new things and places, and to have fun while learning more about themselves,” explained Lewis.

“They’re an easy sell for New Zealand but there were a number of other students who weren’t as convinced.”

Lewis believes this second group of students are in the Future Maker category. For them, career outcomes are top of mind, and education is seen as the road to get there. Lewis said these students were concerned that New Zealand’s appeal to thrill-seekers meant that the academic components wouldn’t be up to standard.

“For these students, study abroad is a serious opportunity. Beautiful pictures of Fiordland aren’t enough – they need cold, hard facts of New Zealand’s high quality education.

The Future Maker persona

The Future Maker persona

“Because of the perception of New Zealand as a place for outdoor adventure, many students were surprised to hear that they could study subjects like mechanical engineering, IT or physiotherapy in New Zealand, and that all universities ranked in the top 3% in the world.

“They also had many enquiries about internship opportunities and programmes that combine study and work experience.”

Lewis also saw that alumni play a  powerful role in this market.

"At one fair, alumni from the University of Southern California were key in piquing the interest of their fellow students, sharing that their courses in New Zealand were cross-credited, and that the Tongariro crossing was just as beautiful as the pictures.

“That’s the balance needed – students who are able to attest to both the academic rigour of courses in New Zealand and the adventure opportunities.”

What's in it for me?