Sick of the 2010 recap lists yet? I am. But here’s one final one for you before you ring in the new year…the news stories that have most caught our attention since this blog started 3 months ago.
The top 5 stories we’ve been following:
#5) College rankings start to generate controversy:
We started the year by sharing results of some university rankings – World University Rankings, US News and World Reports, National Research Council, Global Higher Education Rankings – and there are many more out there. But the validity of using such rankings to compare schools is coming under increasing scrutiny, including an official audit by the International Ranking Expert Group, and students have been reminded by various sources to dig deeper than a school’s ranking when deciding where to apply.
#4) Suicide and violence on college campuses:
Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, committed suicide in September after his roommate allegedly broadcast a video of Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man. The incident shocked students at universities around the country and forced both students and officials to take a look at how they treat gay students and how they deal with bullying and suicide prevention.
The start of the school year also saw a couple of campus shooting incidents, and our bloggers responded by saying they feel campus violence is more of a problem in America than in their home countries, but that their universities take measures to keep them protected.
# 3) Muslim students find U.S. colleges more welcoming:
This wasn’t really a concrete news story, but we found a number of examples of ways in which schools are making life easier for their Muslim students. George Mason University in Virginia has set up special facilities to accommodate the Islamic daily prayers, and Michigan State University held a campus celebration for Eid al-Adha. The Washington Post reported that observant Muslim students are increasingly choosing to attend Catholic colleges, which the students feel share their focus on religion.
As France implemented its burqa ban earlier this year, to which students at one U.S. university responded negatively, the debate over religious dress was happening at one U.S. school as well. The Massachussets College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences attempted to institute a ban on wearing anything that covered the face, but ended up allowing exemptions for religious attire.
# 2) Visa approvals up, but not for all:
82% of student visas to the U.S. were approved last year, according to the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, and many students, including our blogger Nareg, have shared positive experiences with their F-1 visa interviews. It’s good news, but not everyone faces an easy path to approval, as evidenced by stories of denial shared on the Happy Schools blog. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help explain the various student visas and the visa application process.
# 1) Chinese students take over U.S. schools:
The latest data on international students in the U.S. came out and showed rapid growth in the number of Chinese students coming to the U.S., even as enrollments of students from other countries was mostly dropping. We saw stories this year about the lengths Chinese students (and Chinese families) are willing to go to study in the U.S., but study abroad is also attracting more average students than ever before. In a minor setback, as tens of thousands more Chinese students prepared to come to the U.S. for advanced degrees, they found out their October GRE scores were being canceled due to an administrative error by the ETS.
Earlier this year, the New York Times took an in depth look at Chinese students in the U.S., noting the challenges they can face, including fitting in with American classmates, particularly when it comes to campus social life.
Bonus: One of my favorite things that I’ve read this year was BBC correspondent Kevin Connolly’s funny and poignant look at American culture. If you haven’t read it yet, definitely do.