The USC Office of Admissions said it is making a greater effort to diversify its international student body by recruiting in South America for the first time next year.
Dean of Admissions Timothy Brunold said USC will begin recruiting in Brazil next year in 2012.
Abraham Lowenthal, professor of international relations and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences president emeritus, said USC has a gap to fill in Latin America.
“USC is below where it should be in attracting Latin American students because the USC brand is weak and out of date in that region,” Lowenthal said. “Mexico’s leaders study at Harvard, Yale, MIT and Cornell, not at USC. USC’s dramatic rise in quality in many fields is not yet known or recognized in most Latin American countries.”
This year USC is recruiting undergraduate students in India for the first time. Admission’s full-time recruiters will take part in more international college fairs and will visit more high schools.
“We will being visiting eight countries this fall, which is an increase,” Brunold said. “Recruiters will be sent to Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and India.”
Among the 15 percent of current USC freshmen that are international students, more than 40 countries are represented, but 332 out of the 435 international freshmen are from five countries: China, South Korea, Canada, India and Hong Kong. One or two students represent more than half of the countries represented.
Some students said they would like to see more international representation.
“I would like to meet people from more countries,” said Sean McElhenney, a junior majoring in critical studies. “Most of the international students I meet are from the same few countries, which is fine, but I would personally like to see some more international student diversity.”
Brunold said the university will continue to use the same tactics to recruit students internationally.
“We’re not really changing our method, but increasing our recruiting reach,” Brunold said. “It’s an expansion. Our methods are the same.”
The increased focus on getting more students to come from a variety of areas around the world is intended to expand the cultural richness of the campus.
“The benefits are the same as having geographical diversity among domestic students,” Brunold said. “There is always value in having people from different cultures and backgrounds.”
Brunold said admissions is considering other areas in which to recruit.
“It’s not that we don’t have a broader interest in further diversifying the student body, but we have to be certain of our resources before taking on a bigger endeavor,” Brunold said.
Lara Garcia, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, was born in Spain but holds dual citizenship in Spain and the United States.
“Bringing in people from an increasing number of different countries will help USC to be a more internationally well-known university,” Garcia said. “This way USC can have a higher level of education by bringing in the best students from all over the world.”
Garcia said USC needs to make a greater effort to make its presence known in more countries and that she would like to see more representation from Europe.
“I am from Spain and I didn’t know anything about USC until I came to [Los Angeles],” Garcia said. “On the other hand, UCLA is very well-known in Spain.”