Homestay: the make-or-break part of a student’s study experience
“A school can provide PhD-level teachers, gold-plated desks, a perfect nationality mix, and 100% graduation rates. None of that matters if the student is getting what looks like dog food for dinner”
Cam Harvey, owner of Working With Agents Consulting, writes about the importance of open and honest communication in a strong agent-school partnership – one that always puts the health and strength of their relationship first.
“I’m fascinated by the stories in international education. And there are stories out there. Lots of highly emotional stories. Each one often has multiple, emotionally charged versions depending on who is telling it – the school, the student, the parent, or the agent.
One of the biggest story generators is homestay. There’s the one about the student who couldn’t find the toilet paper in the bathroom and instead of asking the homestay mother, calls his mother back home from his cell phone in the bathroom. The mother calls the agent in a rage wanting to know what kind of school would place her son in a homestay that doesn’t use toilet paper. The agent calls the school and demands that the student be moved out of the homestay family immediately. The school calls the homestay mother wondering what the heck is going on. Totally perplexed, the homestay mother knocks on the door and tells the student to look under the sink.
Obviously some stories have morphed into urban myth.
Nevertheless, homestay is the make-or-break part of a student’s study experience. A school can provide PhD-level teachers, gold-plated desks, a perfect nationality mix, and 100% graduation rates. None of that matters if the student is getting what looks like dog food for dinner. Of course, that “dog food” might be the family’s famous Thursday night turkey stew lovingly made each week and served around a warm and welcoming family dinner table.
A professional and experienced agent-school partnership will work together quickly to establish the real story and come up with a practical solution. What do other students say about the family’s meals on past surveys? Or, on the agent side, were the student’s parents particularly demanding in the counselling process?
Open and honest communication between the agent and the school will likely reveal that the problem is not the food but something else entirely. Whatever the problem, a highly evolved and effective agent-school partnership will find a solution that puts the health and strength of their relationship first. Even if that means, regrettably, moving a student out of a perfectly good family.
“Open and honest communication between the agent and the school will likely reveal that the problem is not the food but something else entirely”
No two students are the same and similar situations might require different solutions. How have you dealt with a difficult student situation? Tell me about how you found a novel solution by working closely with a key agent partner, whether it was a problem with a homestay, in the school, or anything else related to the student’s experience.
My hope is that your stories inspire other schools and agents to raise their level of cooperation, professionalism and trust with each other.”
You can contact Cam through the team at The PIE or by visiting www.workingwithagents.com