By Cheranka Mendis
With a history dating back to 176 years, Albion College located in Michigan is now looking at welcoming and recruiting Sri Lankan students aboard. Never having had a Sri Lankan studying in the university, Albion is all ready to embrace the first Lankan student, university official said.
Down for The EducationUSA South Asia Tour organised by the US Embassy, US-SL Fulbright Commission and EducationUSA, Associate Director for International Student Recruitment of the College, Lewis Cardenas in an interview with Daily FT asserted that the liberal arts college would be ideal for Sri Lankan students who are looking at a low cost, high standard higher education.
“Albion is a small private college with a student body of approximately 1,600 which allows close student- teacher interaction enabling the highest attention to students.
The average class size is under 19 students,” Cardenas said. Among the faculty staff, 95 per cent are those who have received their PHD.
Being a liberal arts college which places emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences, the college offers 41 majors and 31 minors among which chemistry, biology, business and psychology are listed as the most popular subjects of study. Cardenas stated that science and business have become firm favourites among the students given the pre medical track record and the pre professional programs offered at the college.
“We have invested US$ 43 million on a state-of-the-art research lab for the science students. On the business front we offer various pre professional programs on business, education, environmental science and political social leadership among others,” he noted.
Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while obtaining exposure to an extensive series of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional humanity subjects taught as liberal arts.
Cardenas expressed that within the limited degrees a number of areas are covered. “For example we do not have a separate graphic designing major but under the study of ‘arts and art history,’ graphic designing, photography, sculpture, print making, etc., are included.” Among the alumnus of the college are Chairman and CEO of US Airways Doug Parker, former Chairman and Editor in Chief of Newsweek magazine Richard Smith, Astronomer Forest Ray Moulton and Korean Model and Actor Daniel Henney among others.
As at now only three per cent of the student population is international students.
There are a total of 53 international students from over 20 countries among which there are students from China, Malaysia, Burma, Japan and India. “Due to the small population in college even one Sri Lankan is a huge plus,” he said.
He also noted that the Albion is on the lookout for outgoing and hardworking students as the courses are academically rigorous.
Sri Lanka stuck a code with Albion when a Sri Lankan delegation visited Michigan last fall as a study trip to the Michigan State University which has enough Lankans that it has its own ‘Sri Lankan club’.
The delegation, which consisted of professors and directors from local universities, also visited Albion and formed a relationship between the college and universities. “Currently we are talking about a faculty exchange between a local body and the college,” Cardenas said.
Aiming to attract A/L school leavers, the college also joined hands with Scholarships for USA (Pvt) Ltd., which acts as a guidance counsellor and foreign university placement adviser.
Why should a student stop at Albion, given the many opportunities to study in the US? “If a student wants personal attention as our classroom sizes are small and aims at close interaction between students and lecturers, want American integration (the college does not have an international house and assigns an American roommate), if the student is encouraged to participate in sororities and fraternities, the college is ideal for you,” Cardenas said.
Furthermore, he added that the college is athletically very competitive and located in a small community with a population numbering 9,000, which would make it easier for a student to adjust and settle.
Scholarships are awarded to students based on the level of minimum requirement for admission and get a 50 per cent cut from the comprehensive cost. Average financial aid award is US$ 16, 000 but could go up to US$ 20, 000. Cardenas said that the total cost for the academic year inclusive of tuition, fees, books, health insurance, room and board and miscellaneous or personal expense is approximately US$ 44, 1555.
Students are allowed to work 20 hours a week provided they can keep up with the work at the university. If the students would like to work in the summer the university offers product research opportunities with a PHD faculty member which would pay an approximate US$ 3,000.