By Aleksa Radenovic
The number of international students attending Youngstown State University has nearly doubled since 2021.
Erika Kraus, the assistant director of International Admissions and Recruitment, said international students contribute cultural diversity to the campus life and local communities and introduce domestic students to a multilingual environment.
“Our International Programs Office has worked to develop partnerships with agents in certain countries to help students get recruited, as well as send members of our team abroad to attend international recruitment fairs all over the world,” said Kraus.
According to Kraus, most of the more than 600 international students on campus hail from Nepal and India, but over 60 countries are represented. Among the draws to attend YSU are the scholarships offered Kraus said.
Jan Hart, a freshman economics major from Germany, said a service in his hometown helped him evaluate his interests and career plans to determine which university was best for him.
“Shortly after deciding to pursue my academic career in America, I reached out to an agency in my hometown,” said Hart. “In the end, I chose YSU because of the generous scholarship I received.”
The recruitment of athletes is more complicated because of NCAA requirements. Athletes must maintain a minimum 2.3 GPA — higher than the university requires for traditional students.
Brad Smith, head coach of YSU’s swimming & diving program, said athletes are considered an integral part of an institution’s education program.
“International student-athletes, once admitted, need to obtain these standards in order to be eligible to compete in NCAA Division I sports,” Smith said.
During the recruiting process, there are often challenges students face, such as proving to the coaches how capable they are.
Jaime Ventura, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and track athlete from Spain, encountered this when he was searching for schools.
“The agency I turned to helped me create a video compilation of all my competitions and training sessions, which I later sent to the coaches,” Ventura said. “Finally after a few months, one of the YSU track and field coaches reached out.”
Although agencies help students find their dream schools, they also cost thousands of dollars some students can’t afford. In some countries, student-athletes who’ve already graduated from the U.S. return home bearing valuable information and tips for younger generations who wish to study and train abroad.
Oliwia Kaniak, a sophomore majoring in informational technologies, came to YSU from her home country of Poland for YSU’s swim team. She learned about college swimming through that kind of international outreach.
“One of my teammates on the Polish national team gave me information needed to start the recruitment by myself,” Kaniak said.
Shortly after reaching out to a few colleges, YSU’s swimming head coach offered her a spot on the women’s team with almost a full-ride scholarship.
Other challenges international students face include important paperwork, Kraus said.
“There are six major things the international students need to have in order to study in the U.S. — a copy of their passport, current high school transcripts, their diploma, English proficiency test, an I-20 form and a VISA,” Kraus said.
For more information about the International Program’s Office, contact [email protected].
Editor’s Note: Aleksa Radenovic is a member of the swimming & diving team at YSU.