By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Understanding the ever-increasing need amongst Sri Lankan students to pursue their higher studies abroad, Priyanthi and Padmasena Dissanayake run Scholarships for USA (Pvt) Ltd., acting as guidance counsellors and foreign university placement advisors for students keen to continue their studies in the USA.
Affiliated with over 30 universities and institutions in the States, the couple plays a key role in the process of creating awareness amongst students here and has so far been very successful in sending many students abroad, as well as bringing down professionals to Sri Lanka to meet and recruit prospective students for educational institutions abroad.
One such institution they work with is Monroe College in New York. Monroe College boasts of 75 years of experience in the industry, and consists of two campuses, one in the heart of New York itself and the other just 30 minutes away in the town of New Rochelle.
Offering associate, bachelors and masters degrees, the college currently has over 7,000 students in both campuses, 20% of whom are international students from all over the world including students from Asian countries such as India, Nepal, China, Bangladesh and also from Africa, Europe, North and South America.
Monroe College currently offers majors in a diverse range of subjects such as business management, information technology, criminal justice, medical administration, hospitality management, culinary arts etc. and MBAs in IT, healthcare and finance.
What would make this college most appealing to Sri Lankan students looking to pursue their higher studies abroad is the affordability, the location and the flexibility of the courses. Tuition fees for one semester for a bachelor’s degree costs just $6100 and the minimum cost for one fiscal year would amount to just $12,200.
Although a year generally consists of three semesters, Monroe College requires students to complete merely two for a year. Therefore, it is up to the student to decide whether to take the summer semester. This system allows students to complete an undergraduate degree in three years and an MBA in a year and a half.
Asian Specialist of the International Admissions Department, Sheetal Alex was in Sri Lanka last week to promote the college amongst the local students via Scholarships for USA. A former student of the college herself where she completed her masters after finishing her undergraduate study in India, Sheetal Alex an Indian, is a perfect ambassador for the college.
“I experienced a bit of culture shock at first; but the college is very casual and laid back and I settled in quite quickly. Overall in was a wonderful experience which is why I chose to stay on – the college has a very personal feel and the classes tend to be small and one can receive personal attention if necessary,” Sheetal described.
The college also offers scholarships from $500 to $3000 on tuition per semester and different types of scholarships on their masters programme. Transfer credits are also accepted; the college administration follows a flexible system where even unrecognised diplomas are evaluated and transfer credits are awarded accordingly. This will prove to be a definite plus for Sri Lankan students who have followed various diploma courses.
Making the process even easier, the college does not even require students to do the SAT examinations. Instead it only asks for IELTS or TOEFL, requiring a minimum of 5.5 for the former and a minimum of 61 for the latter. Interestingly, hospitality and business management are two main areas in the college with over a 1000 students i.e. one-seventh of the student population following the hospitality degree. This includes culinary arts, travel and tourism management and even an associate degree in baking and pastry and comes with hands on experience in the form of optional practical training which would allow a student to work in America for a year following the completion of a degree. An internship programme permits students to spend time in Italy as well, broadening their horizons and adding further value to the course.
A student is legally allowed to work 20 hours a week on campus. Classes are flexible and are held during the morning, noon and evening as well as on weekends offering students maximum choice when planning their class schedules. A shuttle runs between the two campuses which allow students to attend classes easily on either campus.
Dormitories are located on the campus itself although students do have the option of choosing off-campus housing. The perks of choosing to live on campus however that is it lets a student save up to 30 to 40% in housing in comparison to other universities. Housing rates can be between $2000 to $4000 a semester.
Monroe College follows an open campus concept, located on different blocks and is located in the heart of the city with all conveniences found in close proximity to the campus. Bus and train stations are easily accessible as well as entertainment centres and various restaurants, offering students plenty of ways to keep themselves occupied. Monroe College’s efficient international student services department takes care of all international students tending to their needs including details regarding immigrations, course changes etc. which are handled by counsellors.
“We are very happy to be working with our first partner in New York and making available increasingly affordable education destinations to students in Sri Lanka,” said Padmasena Dissanayake.