Tuesday, December 6, 2011

College offers affordable study abroad

One of the most highly recommended, attractive experiences at university is the opportunity to study abroad. There are few better chances to experience the thrill of living outside your own country and broaden your horizons than in college.Sadly, for many brilliant young Korean students, the financial burden of paying tuition at a host university, plus room and board, can keep them grounded.However, Barnard College, a women’s college in the heart of New York City, offers all of the above plus more without the extravagant price tag for female Korean university students.

Through their Visiting International Student Program, Korean students are able to attend the top tier private school as a full-time student for the semester and also attend courses at Columbia University.The program allows students from Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University to study at the campus minutes away from Central Park for a semester, only paying Barnard College’s room and board.According to Barnard College President Debora Spar, the program is a rare win-win offer that no other American college offers.It’s been a great way for us to internationalize our campus to get a large influx of students and I think it’s been a wonderful experience for the students,explained Spar, during an interview with The Korea Herald.So the faculty at Barnard tries to “internationalize our students by having them exposed to as many students from as many different countries as possible because that’s what they are going to need to function in the world.I’ve spent my career working on international politics and international economics and I firmly believe that the 21st century is going to be much more international than the 20th century was.”Her own personal experience amassed during her 17 years as a professor at the Harvard Business School helps her to see the importance of such international exposure for her 2,300 students.

I think we owe it to our American students to make sure that they are getting exposed to as much of the world as possible, said Spar, who was recently appointed a board member at Goldman Sachs.And the Korean students who have joined the program not only gained quality education and exposure to multiple cultures, but have taken advantage of the extracurricular education, seamlessly entering the academic atmosphere.They’ve done surprisingly well in terms of getting involved with things on campus and particularly student government, said the president, adding that there are a disproportionate number of Korean students in their student government.A great number of Korean women have also partaken in their strong economics program, with many moving into professional financial roles, according to the college.

With the strong background in women’s rights, including a Global Symposium on the topic three years and running, the college offers empowerment that female Korean students can use.Spar herself is familiar with the abysmal professional field for Korean women here, which may be why they are so actively engaged Barnard.According to the college, many of the Korean women from Barnard have gone on to successful financial careers, particularly in multinational firms, because of the resources the college offers.Statistics both within the country and the OECD have shown that local firms offer little opportunity and advancement for female employees.Although Korea is one of the primary countries in the program, it also attracts students from all over the world including China, South Africa and Denmark.And the program has seen a remarkable 500 percent increase in students over the past four years, which Spar modestly accounted to a start in a small base, but nonetheless a large surge.Founded in 1889, Barnard is known for successful graduates, especially in the literary world, including seven Pulitzer Prize winners.

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