Rob Morley

Morley_RobRob Morley was hired as USF’s new International Admissions Counselor in October 2015. After graduating from DePaul University in 2008, he moved to Thailand to teach English at a Catholic university. While in Thailand, he eventually switched roles and began working in admissions to recruit international students for a Thai hospitality school, then for a satellite campus of a British management school.

Hiring someone to fill this role was extremely necessary. The international admissions process is intense, and previously the duties were being shared by several people. Centralizing everything into a new role has allowed the admission staff to streamline their processes and respond to students in a more timely manner.

Said Director of Undergraduate Admission, Cindy Lambert, “Rob is part of the undergraduate admission staff, but he is responsible for recruiting all international students, from ELAP to undergraduate to graduate. He’s just starting to get his feet wet, but in the time he’s been here, he’s written up the international agents and started writing a policy manual for international admissions. Over the summer, we plan to send him to Virginia for a week to learn how to evaluate international transcripts through AACRAO.”

To be accepted at a U.S. school, international students are held to the same academic standards as domestic students. The major difference is that English is a second language for the majority of USF’s international students. In order to be admitted, they must pass English proficiency exams. In some cases, students are not able to meet the required scores and must receive extra help through our English Language for Academic Purposes (ELAP) program. Some students have to study in the ELAP program for up to one year before they can move into an academic program. The other thing to note is that international students do not qualify for financial aid, so the price of tuition is a primary concern for many of them. Fortunately, USF offers several merit-based scholarships that are available to international students. This not only helps alleviate the cost of tuition, but also helps us attract high performing students.

Morley isn’t afraid of communicating

“Luckily, I spent several years as an ESL teacher so I have a great deal of experience navigating through language barriers. While living in Asia, I developed a ‘classroom voice’ that I have been able to put into practice with phone communication. I’m very conscious of the speed at which I speak and the vocabulary that I choose when communicating with certain students. I have also become very good at ‘bending my ear’ and taking context into account to work through communication gaps. It would be very rare that we would get an applicant that cannot speak any English at all, so there is normally a way to work through any difficulties.”

USF focuses on a number of areas for recruitment because market research has suggested that our school would be most appealing to those populations. However, USF’s aim is to create a diverse international student population. The recruitment staff tries to “cast a wide net” and do not exclude any countries from their efforts.

USF currently serves about 60 international students. The current majority is from China and Saudi Arabia, but many other countries are represented on campus. Most of those students will stay for four years, and an increasing number are choosing to stay to pursue graduate degrees after receiving their bachelor’s degree.

One might wonder how enticing USF is to foreign students. “Why do they want to come to Joliet?”

Says Morley, “There are definitely some nice things about Joliet that international students are interested in. Joliet’s proximity to Chicago and easy access via Metra is a major selling point, but the fact that Joliet is not directly in the city is attractive to some students as well. Students are able to enjoy the slower pace of a suburb during the week, while also having the option to venture into the city for weekend excitement.”

He continued, “Aside from USF’s geographic location, I have found that many of our current international students also enjoy the fact that we are a small, faith based institution. Students seem to appreciate the sense of community that we have at USF and the fact that their teachers and classmates know them on a first name basis. Despite the fact that many of our international students come from varying religious backgrounds, the majority have expressed a fondness for the type of atmosphere that a faith based institution –inspired by Franciscan values– can create.”