International students are facing tremendous challenges right now with the pandemic. They are one of the hardest-hit groups of young people in the world due to COVID-19 restrictions and policies. As agents, you have a special responsibility to counsel and guide students as they make some of the hardest and most important decisions of their lives.
As international students struggle with time zone differences, unstable internet connections, self-isolation, financial trouble, and homesickness, agents must step up and reassure students that they are not alone. While it may be difficult to see the light ahead, agents must look for ways to show international students that they are heard and supported.
I am highlighting some ways agents can counsel students as we all navigate through these trying times. Feel free to share with me your ideas on how to help students by reaching out to me on LinkedIn.
International students, now more so than ever before, feel alone in their struggles. While the whole world is feeling the effects of the pandemic, international students hardships are unique. They are seen as both the solution and the problem. One on hand, many institutions around the world rely on the fees that international students bring. On another, some governments and countries are enforcing restrictions international student visas and closing their borders indefinitely. How can agents practice empathy in this situation?
Firstly, find ways you where you can relate to your students on a personal level. Perhaps you also felt like you were needed and shunned at some point in your life. Use this experience to help students see that they have worth that is not reliant on how much money they have or whether they can contribute exceptionally to a country’s economy. Their power lies in who they are, and they are strong and capable students who were willing to go leaps and bounds just for their education and future careers. This commendable trait is something that they need to be reminded of especially as they go through virtual learning. International students have a lot to learn even from agents. Agents are their source of guidance for their international education journey, and so motivating them is an important part of the job.
Learn to Adapt
Agents must be flexible and adapt so they can properly counsel students. Keep in mind the current situation and the possibilities of the future when you are recommending programs or institutions to students. What might be right for students prior to COVID-19 might not be right for them today. Always be up to date with industry trends and update yourself with what’s going on in the job market. While it might not look very promising at the moment, think creatively! There could be new industries and careers blossoming out of the needs that the pandemic is creating. Remind students of the possibilities ahead and motivate them to keep on going, even if the path seems unconventional.
Become more Self-Aware
A lack of self-awareness is a great obstacle when it comes to counseling students. If agents are not aware of their own attitudes, values, strengths, weaknesses, and feelings, then it will be very difficult to guide students through their own discernment process. International students, whether already enrolled or still in the application process, have difficult decisions to make. If agents are already unsure, unaware, or in denial of themselves, it will make things even harder for the students.
Practicing more self-awareness by examining your values and who you are as a person will make counseling students easier and more rewarding. They will see your confidence as inspiration to be confident in themselves and will be more likely to listen to your guidance.