In the past few years, Mercy has seen an uptick in the number of international students coming from Norway. Currently, 10% of Mercy’s international enrollment is from Norway, which is significant, since Mercy has over 50 countries represented in its international student body and only 2,293 total Norwegians study in the U.S. each year according to the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway.
Brian Lim, Mercy’s director of international programs and admissions, and Sonya Brauchle, associate director of international programs and admissions, have helped drive the enrollment of Norwegian students by strengthening partnerships with Scandinavian agencies that recruit students interested in pursuing higher education degrees outside of their home countries.
“Our partner recruitment agencies understand that Mercy is a great choice for international students because of our location – New York City, its affordable tuition rate and student support systems, including Mercy’s Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) program,” Lim said.
Several other factors have led to the increase of Norwegian students at Mercy. For one, the College has streamlined the enrollment process for accepted students by counting the Norwegian fifth year of high school as incoming students’ freshman years, so students are able to enter in sophomore standing. Additionally, the Norwegian Consulate General remained open even during the pandemic, which allowed for the normal processing of applications for student visas.
Plus, many students opt to live at Dorm34 at the MercyManhattan Campus in the heart of Midtown is a major draw for Norwegian students, as is the opportunity to study degree programs, including international relations and diplomacy, business, psychology and criminal justice.
Before the pandemic, Brauchle attended college fairs in Norway, in addition to several other countries, to promote Mercy College and make personal connections with students. “Mercy offers students a high-quality, affordable education in New York City. When I share this information about Mercy to students around the world, they are impressed with what the College has to offer,” Brauchle explained.
With international travel halted due to COVID-19, Lim and Brauchle pivoted their operations to build Norwegian student connections by participating in virtual college fairs and meetings with partner recruitment agencies. Among their many partner agencies, one in particular – SONOR, which stands for “Study Outside Norway” – has been essential in facilitating connections with students from Norway.
International affairs and diplomacy major Aurora Ruud ’23, an alumna of SONOR and Mercy international student from Oslo, Norway who resides in Dorm34 at MercyManhattan, is grateful for the opportunity to attend Mercy and live in the heart of Manhattan.
“I always knew I wanted to attend college in New York City. When I met Sonya from Mercy’s international programs and admissions office at a college fair in Norway, I realized Mercy was the perfect fit,” Ruud said. “SONOR and Sonya helped me apply to Mercy within two weeks. I felt good about choosing Mercy because Sonya was helpful and accommodating – it was a great experience working with her.”
There are 6 students from Norway living at Dorm34 which helps them bond and support each other. These students also help share their experiences with friends and students back in Norway so they can see firsthand what Mercy has to offer.
When international students like Ruud attend Mercy, the College benefits. “Having international students at Mercy enriches the academic and collegiate experience for others. These students can share their backgrounds and perspectives as a supplement to classroom material,” Lim explains.
Brauchle elaborates: “Our international students are high achieving. They enter Mercy with high-grade point averages, demonstrate high retention rates and graduate in high standing.” In fact, the fall 2020 to spring 2021 retention rate for international undergraduate students is 94.8%, while the average retention rates have been around 90% or more than 90% in most semesters.
Rudd exemplifies the promising qualities of an international student that benefits Mercy as described by Lim and Brauchle. And the benefit is mutual, as Mercy College provides Ruud with academic and experiential opportunities, even during the pandemic, that will allow her to grow personally and professionally.