A Quick Overview of the International Student Journey



Over the past years, the study abroad decision process has grown more complex and moved online. This trend has been confirmed by Google Education which reported that 9 in 10 enrolled students research higher education institutions online.

Understanding the international student online journey becomes more than ever crucial for any marketer. Knowing students’ touch points when looking for studying abroad will help you better define your strategic plan and where your marketing efforts will have the biggest impact.


Stage 1: Awareness – Discovery

Prospective international students start their online journey by using generic search terms like study engineering abroad or study business and management in France.

They are keen to use websites that appear on the top of the search results, like online education search engines.

They interact with generic articles about studying abroad and use search friendly tools like country, career, personality tests to figure out what match with their interests.


Stage 2: Comparison and Decision-Making

Prospective students have selected specific countries, programs types, degree levels and are ready to compare the best options for them to study abroad.

They are deeply engaged with peer feedback (parents, alumni, students, higher education influencers), recommendation and ranking.

They use comparative tools to make quick difference between the available programs.


Stage 3: Information Gathering

Prospective students look for more detailed information and browse study opportunities by country, program, degree or university.

They look for details such as starting dates, admission requirements and tuition fees.

They are very receptive to social media content, reviews and customized emails.


Stage 4: Application

Prospective students have narrowed down their choice to few international programs. They gather all the required documentation and send their application online.

They mostly look at scholarships, starting dates and application periods information.


Stage 5: Post-Application / Pre-Acceptance

While waiting for the precious admission confirmation email, students look more thoroughly into location and internship guides.

They interact again with articles related to this topic, react to targeted emails and re-analyse reviews.


Stage 6: Acceptance to Enrollment

Students are probably accepted to multiple institutions. Their last decision step is to select one university over another. They make their final choice based on highly specific details about geography, financial aid and university’s academic reputation.


Want to know more about student trends? Click below to download out 2019 Student Trends Report!

Download 2019 Trends Report


Picture of Abby Guthrie Svanholm
Abby Guthrie Svanholm

Abby Guthrie Svanholm is the Communications Manager for educations.com. She works to shape strategy and align team members to achieve product and site growth. Originally from the U.S., Abby has worked with digital marketing since 2015.