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International recruiting sparks ECU interest on U.S. German bases

Jenny Sigurdardottier
(Feb. 3, 2005)   —   Iceland native and East Carolina University admissions officer Jenny Sigurdardottier is used to bare-minimum knowledge about her homeland. "They said Greenland's ice and Iceland's green," she said, the elementary idiom rolling off her tongue with an understanding smile.

But on a recent recruiting trip abroad, the 28-year-old ECU alum was pleasantly surprised when high school students on American bases in Germany knew quite a bit about her adopted home in the United States, East Carolina University.

"Many of the students' families had previously been based in North Carolina — Jacksonville or Fayetteville — and were aware of East Carolina University," she said.

That fact boded well for Sigurdardottier, who aimed to make connections with prospective Pirates during a three-week marathon recruitment tour of Europe in December.

Accompanied by reps from eight other U.S. institutions of higher education, Sigurdardottier visited with students in local high schools and international schools from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. After the formal recruitment tour ended, Sigurdardottier — who speaks Icelandic, other Nordic languages and some German — rented a car in Berlin and visited eight Department of Defense academies in Germany where she found a recruiting goldmine.

"The students were very excited, very enthusiastic," Sigurdardottier said. "My visits were extremely well-received and the feedback from counselors expressed great appreciation for East Carolina's interest in their students."

Sigurdardottier said the students were impressed by the university's long-distance effort to inform them, not only about ECU, but also of the college entrance process.

Germany, she noted, in a report to the university upon her return to Greenville, is an untapped market.

"This seems to be an unexplored market for college recruitment," she wrote. "Students were in large part unaware of the college search, application process and financial aid procedures."

Most of the students Sigurdardottier talked to were sophomores and juniors, so it will be a year or two before they could potentially attend ECU. But the initial figures of interest from the Department of Defense's school students deem promising — all 138 students she visited at Kaiserslautern, Ramstein, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Giessen, Hanau, Wurzburg and Bamberg high schools, said they would like additional information about ECU.

Sigurdardottier's mission coincides with efforts the university is making to boost international enrollment. An administrative committee on international student recruitment hopes to raise the enrollment number to 500 degree-seeking students by 2008. In the meantime Sigurdardottier said she will maintain connected with ECU's new prospectives. The attention has paid off. "A few have already applied," she said.


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481