Monthly Archives: October 2008

Everyone wants international students! Why?

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There is hardly a college or university in US or Europe that is not actively recruiting international students. They spend significant resources to recruit international students using dedicated staff, glossy marketing materials, and country tours. It is worthwhile to ask the question, "Why?" Why are colleges and universities interested in recruiting from around the world?

The standard and widely cited reasons for this massive effort are:

  •  internationalization is good;
  • a global view is essential in today's world;
  • graduates must be global citizens;
  • we want to create a "global village" within our campus;
  • diversity is good for society;
  • our students must learn to work with people from all over the world;
  • new experiences opens our thinking and enhances our creativity;

I am sure there are a few other good reasons as well besides the above list. Presidents' of many colleges and universities are sincere when they cite the above reasons. After all, which institution wants to be known for graduating an ignoramus?

Today, recruiting international students is a thriving business. There are many for-profit and non-profit organizations and corporations dedicated to recruiting international students (including my company!). The websites of many colleges and universities has a dedicated web link that shows photos of happy international students set against the backdrop of colorful flags from all over the world. The message is "Come home to us!"

However, one of the most compelling and less widely known reasons for the big push for international students is economics – yes, good old economics - international students pay anywhere from two to three times the tuition rates of domestic students. In short, they are a great source of revenue for colleges and universities and they don't cost a dime more than educating a domestic student.

In addition, many international students excel in math and science and are dedicated lab assistants, graders, and graduate teaching assistants. They fill doctoral programs and love to live and sleep in labs, passionate about their research and their dissertations. Frequently, they don't have transportation and thus stay glued to the library or the lab. I know because I was one of them.

In today's economic environment, with the state coffers drying up like a patch of desert water, the push for recruiting international students is likely to increase. There are great schools that are genuinely dedicated to the ideals listed above and are passionate about graduating global citizens. And then there are those that want a warm body from another country. It is up to students to be careful when they shop for a university. If you (student) do, you will get a great education in a great country; if you don't, you would have done nothing for yourself – just helped a college or university get rich at your expense.

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President and CEO of Global Cube Consultants, an international higher education consulting company. She can be reached at guptaguma@gmail.com

Top schools in the US – wrong!

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Ask any international student anywhere in the world and they probably can name the top one, or two, or three, or may be even five colleges and universities in the US. Of course, the favorite ones all over the world are Harvard, Princeton, Berkely, MIT, and Yale. But this is like saying the only good shirt in the world is a Polo shirt or the only good watch in the world is a Rolex. In fact, there are many outstanding colleges and universities in the US that many international students have never even heard about and hence won't consider even applying! Finding a good college is a dance that involves two partners: the student and the college or university trying to recruit the student! Both have to be in harmony if it is to be a great dance!

As an international student, look beyond the four or five colleges that your friends and family can name. Think about what your study of interest and identify all the colleges and universities that offer such a program. Look into the qualifications of the faculty who teach in the program; examine their career placement and assistance; look at the Advisory Board; see if the faculty have published in leading journals; examine the kind of courses and electives the school offers. Don't be biased against a college or university because you have never heard about it!

Students often complain that finding a "good" school is hard work. Amen – it is true. But if you don't invest the time and effort upfront, you may get an education that is not worth much or you may have paid too much for your education!

What is your degree worth?

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Today in many parts of the world, a college degree is necessary to find a job and launch a career. For those looking for an exciting and profitable career, the first step is to earn a degree from a good college. So many parents in India invest hard-earned money so that their children can get a college education and earn a degree. Unfortunately sometimes this degree has no value. In fact, some employers openly say that the degree is not worth the paper it is written on! So what should a student or parent do to make sure that the degree has value?

What did I learn? If the degree is easy to earn, watch out. If after you graduate, you still don’t know much about your field, watch out. A degree is a way of guaranteeing employers and others that a student has acquired fundamental knowledge. If that does not happen in some colleges and universities, then employers will not be interested in hiring such students. So even if the college is not strict or rigorous, make sure that you learn discipline-specific knowledge. Apply yourself. Learn about your field as much as you can. Otherwise, your degree is not worth much to you or to anyone else.

Can I read and write? English is widely spoken in India today and employers expect their employees to speak in English. If you can’t read or write well in English, then employers will hesitate to hire you. On the other hand, if you can read and write well in English, your value goes up with employers. This is true not only in your first job, but also when it comes to future opportunities and promotions. So pay attention to your language skills. Learn English. Speak English even with your friends. Listen to English news and programs. Read the newspaper. Write a letter in English. View English as an opportunity to advance your career.

Specialize: Think about your future employer even before you graduate. Who is your ideal employer and why? How can you learn more about the hiring needs of this employer? One way is to visit the Career Section on their website. Study the skill sets that they are looking for and start to prepare yourself for such jobs.

Study Abroad: Not everyone has the financial power to do this, but if you can it is a wonderful learning experience. Today in the US, many colleges and universities provide excellent study abroad programs whereby a student will study in a university in another country for a short period of time. The US is looking for Indian colleges and universities that can host American students and vice versa, looking for Indian students to attend its colleges. 

Tips to Cope on Foreign Campuses

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This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick,who writes on the subject of an online degree in classical studies. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

Tips to Cope on Foreign Campuses: The ardent desire to pursue quality education pushes youngsters to leave behind all they know and love and fly to foreign shores in search of their dreams – this fact is never truer than in the relationship between Indian students and US universities. To lend more credence to this statement, we only have to take a look at the annual report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Open Doors 2006, which states that students of Indian origin outnumbered those from other countries in universities and colleges across the United States of America. They work really hard to secure admission to the school of their choice and are gung-ho when selected, but the moment they board the plane for shores unknown, they are beset by doubts and uncertainties of the next few lonely years in an alien country surrounded by strangers. Here are a few pointers for Indians who are about to embark on this journey and looking for more information on how to cope:

  • Familiarize yourself with facts and information of the college you’re planning to attend. Check the school’s website and read its local newspaper to keep up to date with the happenings on campus.

  • While you’re at it, read up on life in America and what you can expect once you get there, especially in the place your university is located. The Internet is a great source of information if you know where to look.

  • Brush up on your English skills; learn how to talk fluently in the language and how to use American terms and spellings for common words like highway (freeway or expressway in the US) and flat (apartment).

  • If you’re finicky about food, make sure you go prepared to do your own cooking with condiments and spices from home. However, living on campus does not allow you to do this, so remain open to the idea of adapting to new foods.

  • Indian students are not used to visiting their student counselors and advisors or stopping by their professors’ offices to say hello and introduce themselves or clarify doubts, a practice taken for granted by their American counterparts. They must take advantage of the guidance offered and use it to their benefit.

  • Stay in touch with family and friends using online chat software and webcams to reduce the homesickness you feel. It’s true that you’re there to study, but it’s important to get involved in a few social activities as well to reduce the yearning for things and people back home.

  • Go with an unbiased mind and be open to try new experiences and make new friends, irrespective of their religion, culture and nationalities.

If we’re to go by another report, this one from the Council of Graduate Studies, nearly half of  US graduate schools are not averse to the idea of accepting foreign students with only three years of undergraduate education in their home countries as opposed to the current norm of four. This move, if implemented, will only see a surge in the number of students queuing up to grab a place in a prestigious university in the US of A.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick,who writes on the subject of an online degree in classical studies. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.