|By Alita (Alita) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:12 pm: Edit|
My last post was in archives so I revived it this way...for those who werent here before here is a mini intro;
I am a senior this year and am trying to finalize my application list. I was abroad all summer as an exchange student and did not get a chance to do any college research. Right now, I am interested in studying Middle Eastern Language and Culture/International Studies. I am looking for schools with a good study abroad program, at least an arabic language program (not necessarily a major), some sort of International major, and preferably options for language houses/internships/other related activities. At the moment I have a 1500 combined highest SAT score with a 780 french and 800 writing sat 2. My GPA is about 3.92 UW, 4.6 or so weighted (top 5%). Without going into long details, I play varsity field hockey (although I'm not the team star), work 20 hrs week, intern at a foreign exchange organization, teach at church, and participate in various language/cultural activities.
Okay, Ive made my final list:
U Michigan Ann Arbor
U Texas Austin
Ind. U Bloomington
I have one main question. I am applying in late sept to IU Bloom and Michigan because they are rolling admissions. I do not want to apply anywhere early decision because I am not sure where I want to go, and I dont want to rope myself into anything. So, that leaves early action. Harvard and Georgetown are the only schools on my list with an early action option, and I can only choose one because Harvard is single choice. So, which do I choose? I know at georgetown the percentage of students admitted EA was 25% versus 22-23% in reg admissions, so it doesn't seem like it would help much. What about harvard? Would it be to my advantage to apply early there? Also, any tips on the apps for these schools?
thanks a bunch
PS- side note I have visited Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and NYU in April 04, and GTown today. I will spend the night a penn in Nov. Also, at UT I am a double legacy.
|By Alita (Alita) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 04:23 pm: Edit|
|By Mini (Mini) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 05:13 pm: Edit|
I think you need to look at the study abroad options available at the schools you are applying to VERY carefully, if it is a priority (especially if you are financial aid applicant.) Both Harvard and Princeton proportionally send very, very few students abroad (they wouldn't break the top 100). At Princeton, you pay a study abroad administrative fee on top of your tuition, and if the study abroad program you choose costs more than tuition, you have to make up the difference. Harvard has exactly one study-abroad program of their own - in Chile -- and for most schools, while folks from other colleges can apply, priority is given to the school's own applicants. (It will vary school to school, but I know it has been very difficult for students from other schools to get into, for example, Hamilton's or Smith's programs - this was an area in which my d. was extremely interested, so we researched carefully.) At Yale, for example, approximately 100 students total study abroad each year; at other schools, it can be as much as 50-60% of the student body.
Check language stuff very carefully. Check how many majors there are on campus, and whether course offerings have ever been cancelled in the past for lack of interest. Check what percentage of the student body actually studies abroad, and for how long. Check what happens to financial aid, if that is a concern. If the school doesn't have its own programs in places where you wish to go, check how credits are applied (and, if you are concerned, how grades are applied.) Check if the school actually has its own program where you want to go (to ensure you won't get shut out.) Alternatively try to figure out who has the best study abroad programs where you want to go, and ask explicitly whether students from the school to which you are applying have ever been accepted into them.
From our experience of last year, let me tell you that this is an area fraught with misinformation, and you really have to know what it is you are looking for, and compare very carefully. We found some really topflight schools to in fact be very weak in this area (when it comes to foreign languages, for example, I doubt my alma mater Williams would crack the top 50.) Don't take my word for it, or anyone else's - do your own homeworl. You have the time to do the research, and I would make sure to do it.
|By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 05:26 pm: Edit|
HYP have very low rates of study abroad, but that's a function of the students they attract, not necessarily of the roadblocks HYP put in their way. Many of them have fairly extensive experiences of living abroad prior to matriculation; others travel abroad fairly regularly during college; and still others prefer to travel abroad (usually with grants from HYP) during the summer after their junior year. And still others just prefer not to miss the classes they can take at their colleges or their friends.
Larry Summers is eager to get all students to study abroad, but I suspect he has an uphill fight. At any rate, I believe that a decision has been reached not to have Harvard-sponsored study abroad program in order to compel students to immerse themselves in the local culture, including the academic culture. I know of some study abroad programs where students remain within a strictly American academic environment. The only different thing from being at the home college is the landscape.
My S (who was not at HYP) studied abroad through a program that was not run by his university. He lived away from campus in a rooming house with other students, some foreign, some from different parts of the country. I believe he learned far more that way than if he had gone through a program sponsored by his own college.
|By Mini (Mini) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 05:53 pm: Edit|
I don't know about H. I do know Y and P put very large blocks in the way of foreign study - ranging from limitations on financial assistance, to lack of credit transfer, to lack of advising, to payments in addition to tuition required. They can, and are, overcome, but if this is a priority, why should you have to?
There are some wonderful programs, sponsored by colleges but are not "run by the university", that have students live in either rooming houses or dorms with other students. One that we have researched extensively is IES-Milan, which is directed by a composer, and has strong ties to the musical community there. This program is nevertheless sponsored and approved by certain colleges and universities (Scripps being one, for example), and not by others (Princeton, for example). There are other programs, such as Smith's in Geneva, where students live with other students from other countries and from Switzerland itself in dorms, etc. Still others (like Hamilton's in Paris) have student's live with families who have pledged not to use English in their home.
There are of course many different ways to get experience abroad. I doubt that the students at HYP, where there is little study abroad, are much different from those at Georgetown, where there is a lot. One campus places a very high value on it, others a very low value. (We had one guide at Yale ask, "why would you want to come here, if you want to go abroad? which I thought was a very honest assessment.) If study abroad is a priority, you need to check it out, and choose wisely. If it isn't a priority, then you don't have anything to worry about.
Which of these schools actually have (or have ties to) study abroad in the Middle East?
|By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 06:25 pm: Edit|
At my S's LAC, we paid exactly the same tuition as we would have had he stayed at his LAC, although the actual cost of tuition at the foreign university was one third of that. The rationale--and I have heard it mentioned by other colleges--is to eliminate financial considerations from the decision whether or not to study abroad. I think some colleges have also lifted the requirement that students on financial aid earn x amount of money through work-study during the period when they are abroad so as not to penalize them for wanting to take up the opportunity.
There is a range of school-sponsored programs. Some are more "encadres" (the English word escapes me) than others by college faculty; some are just exchange programs, i.e., some courses taken at the foreign university will be granted credit. There are also internships which do not involve taking courses as such. Someone I know spent half his time on an archeological dig and the other half working for an NGO.
In my neck of the woods, I have also heard students ask exactly the same question as the Yale guide. I also know someone who went to teach at a Midwestern university that is very well regarded. Coming from the Boston-area, he was a bit taken aback that not only his students had never traveled abroad, most of them came from a rather small geographical area. Study abroad programs are great for this kind of students, or for the student that is interested in doing a thesis on a non-US topic.
|By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 06:32 pm: Edit|
Sorry we hijacked your thread!
I don't know what to advise you as far as choosing between Georgetown and Harvard. Both have great resources in your areas of interest. For this reason, I would suggest you decide not on academics alone but on "fit." Would you prefer to live in the DC area or in the Boston area? How about the campus scene? The weather? Access to non-academic resources? Perhaps focusing on these questions will make it easier to choose which one to apply EA to.
The rest of your list seems very well chosen.
|By Alita (Alita) on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 12:57 am: Edit|
Its alright--any response will help me. Part of my problem is that without having ever attended these schools, I feel really uninformed no matter how much research I do. After all, i m dedicating 4 years of my life to a place I visited for a day and research for several hours...It seems kinda crazy when you look at it that way.
Mini-Do you think all of this information can be found online, or do i have to call or do something else? I know when I went to Columbia one of the students there, speaking of their arabic program,said that there was almost too many people that wanted to take it-the class had a waiting list, so obviously they have interest. And I know that georgetown has a good Arabic program as well as its own study abroad program in Turkey, although the program is in english which I dont like as much. I would prefer full immersion (living w/ a host family, etc.) Harvard has admitted to the difficulty of studying abroad there and is supposedly working to make it easier, but I'm not sure what changes they've made, or how many will be made by the time I start. I'm looking at matriculating in 2006 because I want to defer my admissions a year to study abroad. At u penn, the huntsman program that I'm applying to requires study abroad for at least a semester in the area of study (for me the mid east), and I've talked to their program director about my options via language and study abroad. I really dont know much at all about study abroad options at the state u's. Middlebury has good language programs, but I don't know too much about study abroad there. NYU, if i recall correctly, runs its own programs in mainly Europe, and I'm not sure if you can study in the mid east. (im applying to Gallatin).
Marite: It seems to be a draw...I really like the "feel" of Georgetown and the opportunities for IR in DC are amazing. The weather is good at both, although im more comfortable w/ DC weather. The major plus for Harvard is Georgetown's proximity to my home-only one hour away. Right now I think Im leaning towards Georgetown, because I feel like I like the people that go there, and for my interests it fits really well...just hope for no surprise parental visits.
|By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 07:00 am: Edit|
There's been a huge surge of interest in Arabic studies and many colleges are not prepared to accommodate the large number of students wanting to learn Arabic. Language courses have to be both small and intensive, typically meeting more often than lecture courses or seminars. So I suspect that Columbia's situation is being duplicated at many other places.
Harvard is in the midst of reviewing its core curriculum. I have the impression that the reforms will be implemented by 2006, though I could be wrong. One of the reforms that has been talked about is decreasing both core requirements and concentration requirements so that students have more opportunities to take electives and to study abroad. For more information, you might do a search through the archives of the Harvard Crimson (thecrimson.com).
Another thing you could do is to contact profs directly. Look up programs of Middle Eastern studies at the colleges in which you are interested and contact the director of undergraduate studies. S/he will be able to tell you more.
Georgetown is a fine place with some great faculty and programs. If you prefer it to Harvard, by all means, apply early.
|By Wiseoldman (Wiseoldman) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 07:24 am: Edit|
Alita: Are you aware that nearly every school on your list is infamous for being "politically correct" to a pathological degree? This means that instead of being in an environment of scholarship and a free exchange of ideas, you will have dusty left-wing dogma forced down your throat by aging hippie professors whose writing and speaking is unbearably full of PC cliches. Any attempt to express a non-left-wing opinion will be met with harsh criticism, low grades, and if necessary the stealing and burning of conservative publications. I should mention that I'm a liberal who can't stand GW Bush. You need to seriously consider starting over on your list
|By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 07:53 am: Edit|
Wiseoldman, it depends. Not all professors at top universities are liberal. Some professors at Michigan, like Raymond Tanter, are very conservative. But more importantly, professors at top universities are not so much liberal as they are knowledgeable. Along with knowledge comes tolerance. I would hate it if I knew a professor that was closed minded.
Alita, NYU is a safety for you. Penn, Columbia and Georgetown are matches. Do not ignore Chicago. It would be an excellent match for you.
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 08:15 am: Edit|
>> Any attempt to express a non-left-wing opinion will be met with harsh criticism, low grades, and if necessary the stealing and burning of conservative publications. I should mention that I'm a liberal who can't stand GW Bush. You need to seriously consider starting over on your list>>
Absolute rubbish. I don't care what you call yourself. That is the most flagrant, unfounded generalization I have read. If you are going to accuse profs of meting out "harsh criticism, low grades" to students whose opinions they do not like, you need to provide chapter and verse.
Please tell us how Samuel Huntington or Harvey Mansfield, whose courses at Harvard are both extremely popular, are PC.
|By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit|
Wiseoldman-- assuming you are an *old* man and not a teen looking for a chuckle-- what schools would you recommend to the OP?
|By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:54 pm: Edit|
Alita: you should look at Brandeis - an easy match for you, and where you are likely to get merit aid. Fine school with a strong concentration in Middle Eastern studies and with a minor avaiable in Arabic. All that you asked for except separate language interest houses (as far as I know, Brandeis does not have any interest-based housing on campus). Merit aid is not suspended during study abroad.
|By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 01:46 pm: Edit|
Alita: just re-read your post. If finances are a consideration, you should be aware that if you defer admission to a university, it could affect any merit aid you were granted. That presently is the case with Brandeis; if you are awarded a four-year merit scholarship and defer admission for a year in order to study abroad, your scholarship will become a three-year one. This could also be the case elsewhere.
|By Alita (Alita) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 07:37 pm: Edit|
Finances are a consideration, but most of the schools I am applying to only offer financial aid, or the scholarships available are not very big. (Penn, Harvard, Georgetown, Princeton, Columbia)I cannot get much, if any, financial aid. We are an upper-middle class family, so we can pay the 40k a year, but it will be a definite strain on the finances.
An update- I am applying early action to Georgetown, and I have decided not to apply to U Texas for personal and practical reasons.
Dad of sam: I will look into Brandeis. I had looked at it before, but had heard that the campus wasn't very nice and that the main professor at their school of judaic and near eastern studies had just left. do you know anything about either of these?
Alexandre: I like chicago as far as academics go, but i dont think I would fit in well with the student body or trend as a whole. I value my social life a lot and want to be able to balance the two instead of being lopsided one way or another, and chicago seems to be practically entrenched in academics.
Wiseoldman: There are very few universities in the country that offer a degree with a focus in Mid Eastern studies. I would assume that the vast majority are at least relatively liberal, thus the focus on international studies/diversity. However, it seems ridiculous to me to assume that because of this, every person on that campus will be shoving liberal propoganda down my throat. I have spent the past four years in a school that is 45$ minorities, low income, and liberal, and have not yet succumbed to idiocy or have people tell me my ideas are ridiculous. While I appreciate the information, it seems, quite frankly, very stupid to go and rewrite every college on my list because of supposed political ideology.
|By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 08:11 pm: Edit|
Alita: The campus is not architecturally attractive. It is not an old-style Eastern collegiate campus; most of the buildings are modern and don't necessarily fit together well. However, it's in a suburb of Boston and is pleasant with plenty of trees around. The food seemed OK, too.
The population is welcoming and friendly; once one gets into a college the specific buildings don't matter quite that much. What matter is the overall atmosphere; one can even develop a fondness for a certain ugly building.
Merit scholarships are awarded primarily on the basis of GPA and SAT scores; with yours, you should easily be able to receive at least
$ 10,000 annually.
I don't know about the professor you mention, but the department overall is said to be quite strong. The first-year Arabic class was a bit oversubscribed but with a bit of persistence the professor agreed to accept a few more students than advertised (about 25 instead of 20). I think that everyone who really wanted to get in did so. You really should look into it.
|By Cheers (Cheers) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:06 pm: Edit|
My S met with the SFS Dean in 2002. The Dean convinced him that the most important IR languages for this generation are Arabic and Mandarin. Other schools might be planning an uptick in Arabic 'interest', but Georgetown seems to be ahead of the curve.
When we visited, there were heaps of students in the common lounge preparing for Arabic exams. It was a very diverse, interesting crowd--but intense. (Would you describe yourself as intense, Alita?)
Anyway, you are on the right track with your list to date.
Hopefully, you will do well in Gtown EA--but remember that SFS is as hard to get into--if not harder--than HYP. Check out the archived threads for Gtown Admission. Bring your oxygen.
Mini gave you GREAT advice. Take your three top choices and research the degree requirements/study abroad options. Check out the course offerings.
My S found that the degree requirements for his IR degree are barely doable if he wants to study abroad for a year. Just getting his requirements will take up the three years he's in residence at uni, leaving one year--and summers--to go abroad. Once he completes his requirements, he will only have three or four electives available--and the selection of amazing IR500 courses will probably be the ones he doesn't want to miss! Look up the course requirements online. Lay out a four year theoretical schedule of courses. Graphics have a clarifying effect...
Also, perhaps you should find the best Arabic program abroad and work backwards. I'd pick the American University of Cairo, but I'd be curious to know if you find any others. (Even though my S is heading towards the Mandarin end of things, I'm still advocating a summer or term of immersive Arabic in Cairo).
Once you've found the best "Arabic Abroad" program--let's say it's Cairo--then I think it is worth a call to the SFS or your other favorites. Find out if their students have studied in Cairo for a term.
In other words, is the Study Abroad office at that university open to independent arrangements? Can they prove it with examples of students who have gone to independent programs? Do they have student ambassadors who might be willing to email/chat about their experiences abroad at such and such a program?
Some CC posters feel study abroad programs are little more than summer camp. "Who would ever skip a term of Harvard!!! Gasp!!!"
Study abroad can be much much more--but you have to be prepared to do the research and slog through the red tape to find suitable programs.
Keep in touch!
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:24 pm: Edit|
I googled the Harvard Study Abroad progam and found this link. Harvard gives credit for courses taken at the American University in Cairo, at the University of Rabat in Morocco, and at several Israeli universities. Many of the programs are operated by other universities or by the School for International Training.
What Cheers has to say about Study Abroad programs is correct. Between general distribution (Core) requirements, concentration (major) requirements, and Study Abroad, students are not left with lots of room for electives. Many go for one semester and perhaps a summer.
|By Cheers (Cheers) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit|
Speak of the devils...
Marite, just curious, which would you choose, Morocco or Cairo?
|By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 05:55 am: Edit|
It would depend on the personality of the student. I've heard that living in Cairo is in itself quite a challenge--and not just because of politics, but owing to the sheer size and complexity of the city. I have not heard much about Rabat. Actually, I was a bit taken aback to see its university on the list. I suspect that in Rabat there would be more of a French influence than in Cairo.
Either way, however, I'm sure one could get a fantastic experience.
|By Alita (Alita) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 01:46 pm: Edit|
Thanks for the advice, everyone.
Hopefully I will not experience the problem with full Arabic classes since I will enter college at the 200 level instead of the 100.
As far as study abroad goes, I would prefer egypt or somewhere where Levantine arabic is spoken (jordan, syria, lebanon, saudi (ithink)). Morocco would be amazing except that its dialect is so different even other arabic speakers have difficulty with it or cant understand it. I am hopefully going to be an exchange student in turkey for my gap year, if all goes well with the parents. Although, shockingly, it was my mom who suggested it.
Cheers-where does your son go to school? Does he study arabic there? Im most interested in immersion type study abroad-by the time I am able to study abroad I will be at the advanced level or more in french, spanish, arabic, and turkish, so I think that would be of most benefit-I dont want all my roomates to be american. To answer your question, I would describe myself as intense about things that matter to me. When I dont see the importance of something, i tend to be lackadaisical about it. Maybe not a good thing, but true. On the other hand, even if I do not love a subject, I love a challenge-the classes I do best in are the hardest ones.
|By Alita (Alita) on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 07:36 pm: Edit|
Does anyone know anything about Emory's middle eastern studies program?
|By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:27 pm: Edit|
Alita: I now have some more information on the Brandeis department.
Prof. Kanan Makiya, an important member of the faculty, took a leave of absence over a year ago to return to Iraq to aid in rebuilding the country. The current rumor is that he will be appointed Iraq's ambassador to the US. Meanwhile, with his status unclear, the university has had to fill in for him. Another professor has been on sabbatical.
Brandeis has just announced the appointment of a head for its brand-new Crown Center for Middle East Studies, a $ 30 million dollar-funded think tank on campus, who will start Feb. 1. According to Brandeis' president, the center will study broadly "economic development, religion, politics, security, ethnic relations and geographic questions in the region".
So, to whatever extent there were some shortcomings, it looks that there clearly will be a new path by the time you begin college.
|By Alita (Alita) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:53 pm: Edit|
Dadofsam: thanks so much!
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