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Friday, March 9th, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 9; March 7, 2012


American students head north.


Japan targets India.


Cut costs? Instead, how about just cut the time!.


Flight Rule #1: Try not to piss other people off.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – American students head north.

As tuition price tags continue to soar across the US, more and more American students are (finally) waking up to the benefits of ‘thinking North’.

It is true that the Canadian/American exchange rate isn’t quite as mind boggling as it was a decade ago (back then the Canadian dollar once rested at around 60 cents US, making cross-border education a screaming bargain) it is now basically at par. Still, the cost of attending most Canadian universities even at international student rates remains enough of an incentive to encourage a growing number of American students to pack their bags. Which is, it seems, precisely what more are doing.

For the past five years, almost 10,000 American students have headed to Canada for higher education each year, according to the Canadian Embassy in Washington. That’s more than a 400% increase in just fifteen years.

Most media coverage of this phenomenon commonly lists the big Canadian universities in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. While McGill, UofToronto and UBC are great public institutions, so are virtually all of Canada’s public universities, with the same standard of quality and many at even lower tuition fees and lower cost of living in smaller cities.

Yet it’s not just lower tuition fees fuelling the ‘Canada trend’. As Katherine Cohen, CEO of Manhattan-based educational consultants IvyWise explains: “It can be easier to get in.” At Canadian schools, admissions tend to be more numbers-based, Cohen explains, weighting grades and SAT scores higher than entrance essays – plus there’s no specifically Canadian tests American students need to take in addition to apply.

“You also,” Cohen adds, “get great value [in Canada]. International students at McGill pay $17,000 a year for a BA, which is nothing compared to the top U.S. schools, where [even US students] might pay three times that amount.”

With other benefits including the ability to work both on and off-campus during studies, and the fact that Canadian degrees are well recognized worldwide (opening the door to opportunities for further graduate studies either back home or elsewhere), it seems likely the trend ‘north’ will continue to grow among American students… even though, for now, few seem to gravitate beyond the three most popular ‘education cities’ – Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Source: “Study abroad? Why Americans students head north”. Reuters, February 15, 2012.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Japan targets India.

As recruiters from universities around the world zoom in on India as one of the largest markets for international students, Japanese institutions have entered the race.

Building off its reputation for renowned industrial success stories, and led by giants Suzuki and Toyota, 13 Japanese universities are currently taking steps to raise their profile in India. Showcasing the benefits of higher education in a country known as the world’s second most innovative nation, these universities are aiming to attract more Indian students than ever before.

Led by the University of Tokyo (one of the highest ranked varsities in the world), these institutions recently announced the opening of a new Bangalore-based ‘India office’, which will serve as a liaison point for the entire group of 13, providing information and assistance to prospective students.

Only about 500 Indian students are currently studying in Japan. But through the help of ambassadors such as software icon and Chairman Emeritus of Infosys Ltd, N R Narayana Murthy – prominent alumnus and member of the President’s Council of the University of Tokyo – it is hoped that more Indian students will take the step.

Putting his stamp of approval on “smart youngsters” choosing Japan, Murthy recently spoke out about the country, referring to the country’s strong stature in terms of economy and innovative spirit, and singling out Tokyo as one of the world’s most beautiful and safest cities.

Source: “Now Japanese universities woo Indian students”., February 27, 2012.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Cut costs? Instead, how about just cut the time!

In an effort to become more affordable, officials at Indiana’s Grace College and Seminar recently toyed with the idea of discounting tuition. But fearing that such a move may appear too “gimmicky”, the school chose another option – to revamp curriculum to accommodate three-year graduation plans for its 50 undergraduate majors.

In fall 2011, Grace College joined a growing number of US schools – including Baldwin-Wallace College, Lesley University, and St. John’s University – who now offer three-year degree programs. And according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ (NAICU) communications director, Tony Pals, the programs are increasingly being explored, both by other institutions, and prospective students and parents.

“The economic downturn has encouraged more students and families to consider the three-year option,” Pals says, “and for academically well prepared and highly focused students, these programs can be very attractive.”

Part of the attraction Pals refers to is, of course, the potential for significant cost savings. At Grace College, for example, students in the three-year programs take more, short courses during their fall and spring semesters, and then any credits taken in the summer are free (save for a $125 technology fee). According to the school, this plan can save students up to 50% on college, taking into account costs they don’t pay and salaries they can begin to earn a year early.

“Twenty-five percent is saving a whole year right up front,” explains college provost, William Katip. “The other 25 percent: Our annual tuition is very close to what our first-year graduates make. The fact is, you’re out working and you’ve got one year of earnings.” Under this program, he adds, students with financial need would also be spared a year of college loans.

But the three-year fast-track isn’t just helping to students enter the workforce one year earlier. It is also, in particular, enabling students to use the extra year to head to graduate school sooner. Especially for any students entering undergraduate studies with quite a clear idea of what they want to major in, this option can help improve a graduate’s job prospects via a shorter (and cheaper) route. Take recent graduate Ted Griffith for example.

Even though he wasn’t enrolled in a specifically designed ‘three-year program’, Griffith managed to organize his classes so that four years at Vanderbilt University resulted in both a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in finance.

“My parents said they would pay for four years of college; they just didn’t say which four,” explains Griffith, who has since founded his own textbook publishing company. When Mom and Dad agreed to fund a master’s degree in his fourth year, “That was really helpful for me to say, ‘Hey, let’s get a move on and do something a little bigger, a little better.’ … Technically, we did end up paying for four years of college, [but] if you think of it just as undergrad, I saved a good bit of money that way.”

Of course, this accelerated route isn’t being touted as a great option for all undergraduates.

“The downside is that it gives students less opportunity to explore different academic options, which could be a challenge for those students who go into college not quite sure of the direction they want to head,” says NAICU’s Pals. But among those motivated individuals, with a clear idea of what they want to do, these new three-year options appear likely to gain in popularity.

Source: “New Three-Year Degree Programs Trim College Costs”. US News and World Report, February 29, 2012.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Flight Rule #1: Try not to piss other people off. (Part One)

Most of us have battled through those long and torturous flights. While airports often frazzle anyone’s nerves, and there’s not much you can do about long lines or delayed departures, there is one little thing you can do to make any flight more bearable for yourself and others: Don’t be annoying!

From the experienced travel minds at Frommer’s, here are some tips to help you maintain your best behaviour at the airport, as well as on the plane.

1. Do your homework so you don’t hold up the line. Read up on any baggage fees and weight restrictions imposed by your airline, and make sure your luggage fits these guidelines before you arrive at the airport. This saves you from being ‘that passenger’ re-cramming open suitcases on the floor at check-in, helps avoid paying hefty overweight baggage fees, and saves a lot of headaches for everyone waiting behind you in line.

2. Don’t crowd the gate out of turn. If the gate agent is only boarding rows 30 and higher, and your ticket says 19A, do everyone a favour and wait until your zone is called. We know, you are eager to get going, but the plane is not going to leave without you (or your bulky carry-on bag), and by boarding early, all you do is hold up everyone else and possibly delay the process.

3. Listen to the safety demo. Or at least, give the flight crew the courtesy of at least pretending to do so. Flight attendants get annoyed when you don’t, and who wants to start off a long journey with a grumpy crew?

4. Be thoughtful when you recline. Will reclining that lumpy seat a few crappy inches actually make the difference between being comfy and not? Unlikely. All it will do is annoy the person behind you – especially if they’re trying to watch a seatback TV screen, use a laptop, or enjoy a snack. Sure, it’s your seat, you paid for it, etc. But so did the person behind you. A suggestion is if you must recline, to wait to do so until the cabin lights are dimmed post-meal.

… Check out next week for the the second half of these tips!

Source: “10 Ways to Avoid Being That Annoying Airline Passenger”. Frommer’s, October 25, 2011.


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