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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kington to go on recruiting trip to India

President Raynard Kington will travel to India over the upcoming weekend on his annual trip representing Grinnell abroad, where his primary focuses are to advertise the value of a liberal arts education, bring Grinnell onto the radar of high school principals and guidance counselors and to meet with alumni who are looking to give back to the school.

Kington, who will be accompanied by Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admission & Financial Aid Joe Bagnoli and Associate Director of Admission and Coordinator of International Admission Jonathan Edwards, will make major stops in New Delhi and Mumbai over the course of the three day trip.

Kington’s excursion to India reflects both Grinnell’s increasing number of Indian applicants and the College’s interest in maintaining a strong, ever-expanding alumni network in the flourishing, education-minded country.

“Percentage-wise, [the number of Indian applicants] is up 25 percent in the past two years,” Edwards said. “It’s reflective of a general trend internationally. If you think of the U.S. as an importer of [students in] higher education, India is the second biggest exporter. We’ve got some room to grow in India.”

The biggest challenge Kington faces in regards to advertising the College is explaining what distinguishes a liberal arts education and a liberal arts college from the standard Indian research university.

“He will … illustrate the distinguishing qualities of a Grinnell education among other options more commonly pursued in the U.S. by students from India,” Bagnoli wrote in an email to the S&B.

The United States is fairly unique in the world for having a system of higher education that includes a network of liberal arts colleges and the concept is relatively foreign to international high school students.

“Liberal arts occur in other places in the context of a university, but that model of education is not well known,” Kington said. “In other countries, we have to explain what distinguishes a college like Grinnell from more research-intensive universities. It’s a challenge for us, but it’s also a strength.”

Kington will emphasize the importance of teaching at liberal arts institutions, which has been a successful strategy in countries with similar views on education, such as China and Korea.

“We explain our track record with our focus on teaching, and there’s great respect for teaching [in India],” Kington said. “We also prepare students well for life afterwards, especially for graduate school. Liberal arts colleges feed well into graduate school, and many families are not as aware of this potential.”

One challenge that Kington, Bagnoli and Edwards will face involves promoting an attractive image of the College.

“As a generic issue everywhere, it’s how can we tell a compelling story about the College,” Kington said. “What makes us distinctive, our source of strength [and] being able to tell that story about a great institution. That’s the challenge. However, that’s true for every institution and for every college.”

Kington will employ a number of strategies to spread the word about Grinnell, including meetings with high school principals and guidance counselors.

“We give presentations to school staff, and meet with them on an individual basis,” Kington said. “High school principals are gatekeepers in a way, and people in administrative positions rarely change, so they’re always there to spread the word about Grinnell.”

Kington will also announce a new branch of the Grinnell Global Gateway program, which welcomes a select group of guidance counselors from abroad to properly introduce them to the campus and students, providing a more personal experience than a simple brochure.

“It’s an expansion of a program to bring counselors to campus. We already do that to some degree already with counselors in the U.S.,” Kington said. “We’re expanding that practice, because we know that when a counselor has been to the campus, they can speak much more persuasively about coming to the school.”

In addition to recruitment, Kington, Bagnoli and Edwards will also be working to expand the list of possibilities for current Grinnell students, especially those interested in interning, working or studying abroad in India.

“These are two main goals,” Kington said. “One: get better at helping students launch onto a career after they leave Grinnell. Two: get better at helping alumni integrate into the current life of the College, to advise students and to even locate internships and help launch students as they’re leaving.”

Meetings with alumni will be done primarily through special events and receptions, where both alumni and the parents of current and former students will be invited.

“We cast a broad net to the majority of [alumni],” Kington said. “They get to meet each other, we get to meet them … they get to hear about what’s happening at the school.”

This reflects a general trend that the College has continuously pursued, which is to ask alumni to cultivate internship opportunities for students, as a means of staying engaged with the Grinnell community.

“Alums ask what they can do for the College, rather than financially,” Kington said. “My number one request is to help us locate internships … More and more employers want that type of experience. Our focus is not career skills, it’s about developing lifelong skills. Having opportunities like internships is a great complement to that education.”

Kington ended on a light note in regards to his India trip. “It’s not monsoon season, hopefully,” he said.

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