As the global economy continues its shift towards technological innovation and entrepreneurship, questions have been raised as to the perceived value a liberal arts education holds today. Does a liberal arts degree offer as strong a return on investment, both in terms of future earning potential and personal growth, as a STEM degree? Can liberal arts prepare you for “the real world?” And what can a person even do with a degree in history, much less, one in philosophy?
As two happy liberal arts graduates, we can attest not only to the immeasurable value of a liberal arts education, but also dispel some of the common misconceptions and misgivings surrounding the applicability and pragmatism of studying at a liberal arts college.
Here are some of the most common myths surrounding the usefulness of a liberal arts degree, and our efforts to debunk them based on our personal undergraduate experiences.
Myth #1: Liberal arts schools are not academically rigorous.
Reality: The keystone of the liberal arts curriculum is an educational philosophy which holds that a diverse and dynamic undergraduate study, coupled with an in-depth study of a specific discipline, is the best type of undergraduate education with which to endow a student. Many liberal arts schools have General Education or Distribution requirements, which compel students to take a certain number of classes across the arts, the soft sciences, and the hard sciences. The minimal and comprehensive division requirements also make it quite possible for students to double major. Students can major in both physics and philosophy, both French and economics, both studio art and astrophysics, unforced to choose between their niche-est of interests and their most practical sensibilities. Also, an increasing number of liberal arts colleges are creating partnerships with larger universities to create 3-2 programs which allow students to receive a bachelor of arts, as well as an engineering degree.
We at Williams (go Ephs!), never tire of pointing our peers to the annual Forbes college rankings. In 2017, Williams was ranked the #2 undergraduate program in the country, after Stanford University (#1), but in front of the entire Ivy League. Of the 2017 top 10 schools, 4 were liberal arts colleges (Williams #2, Pomona #7, Wesleyan #9, Swarthmore #10). In 2017, Pomona College (go Sagehens!) had an acceptance rate of 8% – the second lowest undergraduate acceptance rate in the state of California after Stanford’s – while Dartmouth College, for example, had a 9% acceptance rate. Make no mistake; one cannot slouch one’s way into a top liberal arts school, anymore than one can happen upon a Harvard acceptance.
Myth #2: The study of liberal arts is not suited to the modern economy.
It is true that the demand for computer scientists and biochemists in today’s economy is substantial. Some of the largest and fastest growing areas of the US and global economies appear, on their surfaces, to be places wherein a humanities major might have little place. But this is not the case! Tech and entrepreneurial innovation do in part require a healthy number of scientists and engineers, but they also require people with the creativity and dynamism to come up with the next great idea. People with the perceptiveness, savvy, and holistic critical thinking skills are needed to recognize an idea worth investing in, from the venture capital side of the table. Not to mention the scores of people needed to brand, market, legally represent, and implement that idea in order for a company to grow and endure.
Investors and computer scientists alike over the last several years have highlighted with increasing urgency that liberal arts graduates are acutely vital to the kind of innovation famously born in the Silicon Valley, for example. One former tech giant went so far as to say, “technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.” That giant’s name? Steve Jobs. Also, while there may be countless programmers around the world that can code, how many of them have the creativity to conceive of the next Uber, Airbnb, or Snapchat?
Because of the sense of camaraderie and tight-knit communities characteristic of so many liberal arts colleges across the country, such schools also possess phenomenal alumni network resources. Alums from schools like Amherst are famously committed to mentoring and advising Amherst students and young alums that succeed them, be it through summer internship direction, graduate school tips, or personal and career advice.
Myth #3: Liberal arts colleges are way too small and are not diverse.
Saint Anselm College’s Alumni HallA liberal arts education isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s one that’s relevant to all students from around the world. Liberal arts colleges attract all types of students and are only seeing increases in international applicants. Many liberal arts colleges boast significant percentages of international students such as Claremont McKenna College (16.6%), Bryn Mawr (23.4 %), and Mount Holyoke (26.3%) according to US News Report.
Although many liberal arts schools report enrollments of only a couple thousand students in total, such numbers do not necessarily reflect the size of the academic community of which the given liberal arts school is a part. Pomona College has an enrollment of approximately 1,600 students, but is part of the larger Claremont Colleges Consortium, which provides students with access to a broader academic community that encompasses students from five other institutions. Undergraduates in the consortium can not only enroll in classes at the other colleges, but can also enjoy the dining options of four other campuses (which include Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and Claremont Mckenna College).
Furthermore, a small school can offer class sizes and student-professor interactions unprecedented for the average undergraduate student. At Williams, for example, tutorial-style classes mirroring the Oxford model are offered each semester across all departments. Tutorials are classes comprised of two students and one professor, wherein a pair of students meets weekly to discuss reading and their own written material with a professor. That’s a 2:1 student-teacher ratio! Williams, a liberal arts school with only a handful of graduate students and slightly over 2,000 students in total, can offer this kind of student-teacher ratio, generally reserved for advanced graduate students, at the undergraduate level to students of any age and in any subject.
So have we sold you on a liberal arts education yet? Well, if all of our myth busting didn’t persuade you, then hopefully the words of American billionaire Mark Cuban will — “I personally think there’s going to be a greater demand in ten years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering, because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data.”
There is no wrong choice when it comes to selecting a college, so long as your choice is an educated one.
Katie Buoymaster and Nana Koranteng are Educational Consultants at Hale Education Group, and former Fulbright Fellows. Katie is a graduate of Williams College, and Nana is a graduate of Pomona College.
I still remember when I first informed family and friends of my decision to attend Mount Holyoke, an all women’s college in the US. They facetiously remarked,
“Is that a medieval convent in the US?”
“Aren’t you going to miss boys?”
“ALL girls school for four years…You will forget how to talk to boys!”
While many of my friends were seemingly startled by my choice, I knew it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Young women, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, should consider the benefits of attending a women’s college. You may be surprised, but there are over 40 institutions of higher learning in the US dedicated exclusively to educating women. The most reputable women’s colleges are the “Seven Sisters” – founded with the premise of educating women at a time when Ivy League schools were predominantly reserved for men. The Seven Sisters include Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe (now part of Harvard), Smith, Vassar (now co-ed) and Wellesley. For generations, women at these colleges have discovered their passions, stretched their horizons and realized their true potential.
Some may refute the relevance of women’s colleges today. After all, society has made positive strides forward with regard to gender-related issues. Women are leaders in finance, successful entrepreneurs, and hold important positions in Government. While we may have progressed in the past century, the hard truth is the world continues to lack in gender equality. According to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, women earn about 20% less than men for doing the same jobs . In terms of economic loss, this translates to a whopping $840 billion that women lose in wages every year! 
Gender equality is indisputably imperfect. Women-only colleges; however, are specifically designed to prepare the next generation of women leaders. Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. party, attended Wellesley. Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female President of Harvard University, went to Bryn Mawr. Moreover, graduates of women’s colleges constitute more than 20% of women in Congress and represent approximately 30% of Business Week’s list of influential women. 
Attending a women’s college makes a powerful statement. Juniors trying to finalize their college lists should research and include women’s colleges as a viable option.
The most unique aspect of women’s colleges is the individualized attention students receive to facilitate success. By nature, women’s colleges strive for academic excellence and provide support services that are conducive to intellectual and professional development. .
Through the small classroom experience, you are encouraged to speak, analyze, and forge solutions as well as hone leadership skills. This helps cultivate strong relationships with world-renowned professors who guide you not only through your four years at college, but also your entire personal and professional life.
Furthermore, faculty advisors are dedicated to creating a sustainable career plan. Discussions with advisors include topics pertaining to hundreds of funded internships globally, and opportunities to conduct research, engage with communities, and collaborate with leaders.
Women colleges draw a large international population. Despite the cultural differences, women at these colleges are connected via unifying forces – pride, spirit and identity. It is a fantastic opportunity to maintain social, cultural and religious values, yet gain a wider perspective on life.
In particular, shared traditions bring the community closer together. Tradition instills a sense of sisterhood among the students. Mount Holyoke; for instance, has a long standing tradition of the big sister / little sister program. As a first year Mt. Holyoke student, I was assigned an older, more experienced “sister”, to ease homesickness, guide me through my selection of classes and inspire exciting new adventures.
The strong alumnae network also connects you to thousands of graduates from around the world who truly support your dreams. Alumnae of women’s colleges are simply an email away to provide life advice.
This close-knit community of advisors, alumnae, and students creates an enriching experience, exposing students to strong, powerful, and successful female role models. Female role models are instrumental in empowering students to pursue leadership roles, both inside and outside the classroom. Hence, you will find students who not only lead STEM research projects, but also serve as captains of sports teams.
Many women’s colleges are part of local consortiums that enable you to enroll in courses at nearby institutions.
Mount Holyoke and Smith; for instance, are part of the Five College Consortium – Amherst, Hampshire, and UMASS Amherst – all located within a 12 mile radius in Massachusetts. They provide cross-registration opportunities for a wide range of courses and a free shuttle service for transportation.
Wellesley also offers a cross-registration program with MIT as well as the option of a double-degree program to earn a B.A. degree from Wellesley and an S.B. degree from MIT over the course of five years.
Moreover, Barnard is affiliated with Columbia University in New York. Barnard students receive unlimited access to Columbia classes, professors, libraries, and events, while maintaining their own campus and faculty. Bryn Mawr students also enjoy the benefit of close partnerships with Haverford and Swarthmore in the Philadelphia area.
Apart from the academically stimulating experience, the consortia enables you to socialize with students, including men, from other prestigious liberal arts colleges. Students from nearby schools often visit the Seven Sisters to enroll in classes, study or simply hang out. This provides access to a network of like-minded students and opportunities to collaborate on several social or business initiatives.
In sum, women’s colleges provide support in all spheres of life – academic, personal and professional – with a specific focus on women’s needs. The experience of studying alongside ambitious, smart and independent-minded women is incredibly transformative, just ask any proud alum!
Mona Khan is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group and a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.
You’ve been accepted, received your visa, and packed your bags. But what should you expect from your first few weeks in college?
What is Freshman Orientation?
Every college arranges a freshman orientation for its first-year students; one or a few days of events designed to welcome students to campus, help them settle in, and foster strong social bonds in the freshman class. Typically, the orientation consists of smaller group activities, through which students get to know their new classmates, the campus, and the area surrounding the college. Students are also assigned to a leader or mentor, an older student, who will help guide their group of students through their first weeks on campus.
Expect lots of fun events during these days, and participate in as many as you can! The exact activities vary from college to college, but may include:
- Move-in support
- Comprehensive campus tours
- Ice cream socials
- Welcome lunches and/or dinners
- Ice breakers
- Scavenger hunts
- Residence hall and hallway bonding activities
- Assistance with selection of first semester courses
- Extracurricular activity fairs
- Department open houses
- Campus-specific initiating traditions, such as the Illumination Ceremony at Tufts University
The week ends with the Matriculation ceremony, when you will officially join the college as a student!
Most activities are not mandatory, but why would you pass up on a chance to make new connections, or potentially even the opportunity to enjoy some free food?
International Orientation – What is it, and should I participate?
Most colleges arrange orientation programs that are specifically designed for international students. These are typically scheduled before normal freshman orientation begins. You’ll learn more about living on a college campus as a foreign student, regulations around the student visa, and – most importantly – have the opportunity to make friends from around the world!
Here are some other activities that may be included in international orientation programs:
- Shopping trips for college and room supplies
- US phone and banking set-up sessions
- Cross-cultural and US culture workshops
- Excursions and day trips around the city
- Group bonding activities
International orientation programs are a great way for students to be introduced to the campus and become a part of the tight-knit student community already during their first days. Participating in International Orientation will NOT restrict your social circle; you will still have plenty of opportunities to make American friends. Plus, at many colleges, American students (including US dual citizens) are actually one of the largest national groups that participate in these programs! International Orientation is really just meant for students with a global outlook.
As a transfer student myself, I participated in international orientation programs twice: once as a freshman at a larger state school, where the program was a one-day course on the student visa immigration status, and once as a transfer student at a medium-sized private college, where the program was filled with activities and ran for three full days.
The experiences were very different, but both left very strong marks on me; I would even go as far as to say that they defined my college experience. Being a freshman at a large university, the program was a way for me to find a social circle on the otherwise overwhelmingly large campus. As a transfer student, I had felt nervous about making friends, but was relieved to find a welcoming and like-minded community in my international orientation group. And it didn’t stop there; I met all my closest friends during my participation and involvement in the program, and actually loved my experience so much that I returned to the program as a peer leader, program coordinator, and alumni support staff and interviewer.
Other orientation programs
Not interested in International Orientation? Then look for other pre-orientation programs that interest you! Many colleges offer specialized options, such as programs focused on outdoor activities, fitness, mindfulness, or community service. NOTE: Transfer students have their own orientation program, but the activities and events tend to be similar to the freshman orientation program.
Participate in the programs and events that suit you best – your first weeks in college are the best time to explore and make new friends!
Frida Lundgren is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group and a graduate of Tufts University.
SAT. Every year, these three letters strike fear into the hearts of high schools students around the world. The irony is not lost on those who know that the college entrance exam originated in 1926 as an IQ test designed to evaluate US Army recruits. Since that time, there have been many changes to the SAT: In 1994, antonym questions were removed, longer reading passages and open-ended math questions were added, and calculators became permitted; in 2005, analogies were eliminated, more advanced algebra concepts were added to the math section, and the scoring scale changed from 1600 to 2400; in 2009, university applicants were permitted to send their best SAT scores only, instead of sending every set of test results; the most recent change was in 2016, when major alterations included changing the scoring scale back to 1600, and removing the penalty for guessing.
The SAT examination board, also known as the College Board, has said that one reason for the 2016 change was an attempt to cut off any possibility of cheating. International locations, especially in Asia, have been rife with cheating scandals; for example, in May of 2013, both the SAT and the SAT II scores were cancelled throughout the entire country of South Korea after questions were leaked. However, even after the 2016 changes, cheating scandals continue to abound. In January of 2016, the SAT was canceled at test centers across Asia because of a security breach. Reuters revealed in March of 2016 that College Board has always and will continue to recycle old test material, explaining the vulnerability to cheating for both new and old SAT exams.
The most recent news in the world of College Board is the cancellation of the international June and November SAT I exam. After this major deletion, international students only have access to four test dates per year, in October, December, March and May, compared to the previous six. These more limited test dates come hand in hand with the introduction of new security measures, including providing law enforcement agencies with the names of all individuals and test prep companies suspected of stealing test materials.
Fewer test dates complicate a student’s strategical test-taking timeline, and make it more difficult to plan out the college application process. Students who are applying early for the November 1st deadline will now only be able to take the SAT in October. Some schools, like Georgia Tech, have an even earlier deadline, leaving students with no chance to take the SAT in the fall. Additionally, the October test date may fill up very quickly, leaving students with only the month of December as a backup test date.
Walt Disney, JK Rowling, Thomas Edison, Jack Ma, Albert Einstein….what do these celebrated figures have in common? Would you say they each possessed a brilliant mind, or lived to achieve unparalleled success in life? While this may be true, more surprisingly, before achieving status as historical and cultural icons, each one experienced devastating rejection.
Disney, Rowling, and Edison were all fired from their jobs and criticized for their ideas, as were other luminaries like Anna Wintour (fired from Harper’s Bazaar), Madonna (fired from Dunkin Donuts), Oprah (fired from a local Baltimore news station), and Steve Jobs (fired from his own company). Not only was JK Rowling fired, but when she later had multiple books rejected from various publishers, they offered her consolatory advice like suggesting she attend writing school. The list of famous failures goes on: Stephen King’s first critically acclaimed novel Carrie was rejected thirty times before being published; Abraham Lincoln lost several runs for public office before becoming president of the United States; Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television three times, and did not complete his BA from another university until 2002; Albert Einstein was expelled from compulsory school and denied admission to university before going on to become Albert Einstein.
Rejection, setbacks, and disappointment are integral and necessary components of the human experience. While not all of us will become famous authors, inventors, and celebrities, it is certain that we will experience multiple rejections at unexpected times. Rejection takes many forms, and can affect us in a variety of ways, but it is how we respond to these unfortunate circumstances that defines who we are – not the circumstances themselves. Professional and personal rejection are common encounters in any given person’s lifetime, but perhaps the most jarring rejection is the first one we experience, and for many, that is a rejection letter from university.
It is essential to understand that no one is immune to rejection. There are always students who seem to “have it all” – perfect scores on the college entrance exams, like the SAT, and SAT II’s, and substantial extracurricular activities – that are nonetheless consistently rejected from Ivy League schools. However, these students are able to recover from the perceived loss of an Ivy League acceptance, and live happy, engaged, fulfilling and successful lives. Ultimately, a university can only provide you with a set of opportunities; it is up to you to make the most of your experience as an undergraduate student.
So how does one recover from such a blow to the ego like a university rejection? The first step is understanding what factors play into a university acceptance. Diversity, personality, and character are equally important to a university as are academic profile. University admissions is a matchmaking process, and should be viewed as a search for compatibility between the school and the applicant.
With this in mind, the university admissions process can be likened to a search for a romantic partner -an appropriate comparison, when you consider how painful both forms of rejection can be. Here is a summary of award-winning author Alain de Botton’s advice on romantic rejection:
- Don’t minimize the pain. Indulge in it until you get bored.
- Believe rejection when it happens. Accept it so you can move on.
- Recognize that we are predisposed to thinking highly of people that don’t want us. By default of being in the position of power, they seem more perfect than they are.
- Put yourself in the place of the rejector. Think back to when you rejected someone. You weren’t necessarily repulsed by that person, nor did you think lowly of them – in fact, you probably didn’t give them a second thought. Take this into consideration and don’t be so critical of yourself.
Often times the best way to get over a broken heart is simply to find a new object of your affection. The same approach can be applied to rejection from your top school. Revisit your other university acceptance letters, and perform your due diligence; you should find many attractive qualities in one of these other schools – after all, you applied to these universities for a reason. Also know that you can study at this school for a year, and then attempt to transfer to your dream school during the next admissions cycle after you have improved your grades and profile.
Another option is applying to more universities in the same admissions cycle who offer rolling admissions. Schools with rolling admissions receive and review applications throughout the year (although some do have a deadline in the spring or summer).
If you find yourself stuck on your dream school, there are other options, for example reapplying after a gap year. This is only advisable if that gap year is filled with a worthwhile pursuit that will improve your profile. Some profile-building activities include full time employment, founding an organization, or carrying out a demanding internship or another professionally-oriented initiative like an international service corps.
Alternatively, you can keep your dream school in the back of your mind for graduate studies. You have a better chance of admission to a top graduate school if you stand out among your peers at the undergraduate level. High achieving students from less selective undergraduate programs will always secure acceptances to more selective graduate programs than average students from more selective institutions. For example, Harvard MBA students hail from 264 undergraduate institutions – not just from the Ivy League.
If you take away anything from this article, it should be that the path to success is fraught with failure, but in these moments of failure are lessons that better prepare us for future challenges. Use this opportunity to develop the emotional tools necessary to deal with the extreme highs and lows of life. In the words of the famed inventor of the telephone (and failed inventor of the airplane) “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Alexandra Newlon is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group and a graduate of McGill University and Washington University in St.Louis.
A meaningful summer can take many forms: an athletics camp, an online course, volunteering, shadowing a professional in a career you’re interested in, or a program deeply focused on an academic topic you love, whether creative writing, medicine, aerospace engineering, entrepreneurship, or business management. While summer is a great opportunity to demonstrate your continued commitment to your intellectual and extracurricular passions, it offers the perfect opportunity to venture beyond your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to study a subject that falls outside of your curriculum or have not had the chance to explore, or to try something completely new – like volunteering to build homes for Habitat for Humanity!
When and where to begin
It is important that students understand the various options available to them, and begin their application early so that they have enough time to gather all the required materials. Many summer programs accept qualified applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis through May, but tend to fill up quickly. Other programs, specifically the more competitive ones, have deadlines in February and March.
Families should look into their summer schedule and identify what types of opportunities the student is most interested in, as well as how much they would be willing to pay – programs can vary greatly in cost and length! Students will be able to find shorter programs of just a couple of days, as well as longer programs of six weeks or more. The earlier families start looking, the more time they have to identify a suitable option, understand the application process, and gather the necessary application materials.
Summer programs at US universities
Students can begin by looking for summer programs at universities they are interested in, as well as ones focused on specific interests they hope to explore. Most major US universities offer opportunities for high school students during the summer, where they can take classes for academic credit while also living on campus with other students from all around the world. This is a great chance to gain insight into college life at a US university campus, while also refining your academic interests and making new friends.
A student who completes a selective summer program that is rigorous or offers university credit demonstrates the ability to succeed in college-level work. Completing a challenging program also highlights the student’s intellectual curiosity, and this can certainly add value to the college application. However, students should not take summer classes for college credit if they are not adequately prepared; they should be aware that most college credit courses condense a semester of undergraduate course work into three to four weeks.
Not all summer programs in the US are created equal, and certain programs are more reputable and selective than others; for example, a program hosted on Harvard’s campus may be run by a private company unaffiliated with the university. Such programs are open to anyone with the means to pay their fees and add very little value to the college application. Make sure to perform your due diligence and find out who is actually providing the summer program. Your Hale counselors will be able to share their insights and discuss this with you in greater depth.
Alternative ways to spend your summer
The most valuable summer is one that allows a student to discover his or her interests in a new way, whether that is through a community service initiative, a research program, or a service trip abroad. A program the student is not enthusiastic about would not be the right fit.
At the end of the summer, students should evaluate their experience and ensure they are coming away with the most valuable outcome. They should ask: what have I learned, how have I grown, and how has this influenced the path I want to pursue in the future? It is advisable to keep a journal during the summer program, so that students can easily reflect on the details of their day-to-day experiences after returning home.
Ultimately, the best summer programs, academic or otherwise, would be ones where the student will develop a sense of intellectual curiosity and passion, regardless of what he is planning on studying at university. Not every student has the time or resources to complete a residential program in the US; Taking a free online course, volunteering, training for an athletic competition, or even working would be other valuable ways for students to spend the summer productively.
What is Greek life?
Many incoming freshmen enter college wondering what the Greek System is and are perplexed by its role in campus life. Most American universities have student organizations called fraternities (for men) and sororities (for women), which are dedicated to fostering strong social bonds among their members, promoting community service, and enriching students’ overall undergraduate experience. Collectively, these student groups are called the Greek System because each house is named after two or three letters of the Greek alphabet, such as Kappa Kappa Gamma, or Alpha Delta – the latter being my very own fraternity. Often these are shortened to nicknames. For example, as an Alpha Delta, I’m referred to as an AD, while Delta Delta Delta’s are called Tri-Delts.
When people find out I was part of a fraternity, a large percentage of them often ask the following questions: “Do you have to be Greek to be part of a fraternity?”; “Did you party every night?”; “Have you seen Animal House?”; “Is it like that?”
First, I want to make it very clear that you DO NOT have to be of Greek descent to be part of the Greek System. Again, fraternities and sororities are collectively referred to as Greek houses because they are named after Greek letters. That being said, it is very hard to describe the Greek system under a single umbrella. Greek life varies from campus to campus and even from house to house. There are social Greek organizations, as well as those dedicated to a particular field of study or profession, such as business, medicine, law, engineering, or journalism. The United States’ most prestigious Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa, is almost as old at the country itself and is also its first collegiate Greek-letter fraternity. In order to be considered for membership, students must graduate in the top 10% of their class.
Many of the stereotypes you associate with fraternities and sororities are partially true. Big parties are thrown by fraternities, sporting events get loud and rowdy, and plenty of “Animal House” antics do take place. However, fraternities and sororities are much more than just a social space and a party scene. Greek houses are leading student organizations in terms of leadership, community service, philanthropy, and school spirit. Nationally, the average GPA of fraternity and sorority members is higher than that of non-Greeks. Greek organizations are highly involved in leadership initiatives across campus, as well as sports teams, charity fundraisers, soup kitchens, food drives, and other community-oriented events. These activities are great resume builders, and participation in Greek organizations can be seen as a measure of discipline that shows you can manage academic excellence and extracurricular commitments simultaneously.
Furthermore, being part of the Greek system provides some unique benefits. It creates an instant sense of community, which is crucial during your time in college. Your fellow fraternity and sorority members become your “brothers” and “sisters,” and soon develop into your support structure. Greek houses are also well known for creating leadership roles, networking opportunities, and academic support systems. Moreover, although it is not required, it is highly encouraged for the members to live together in their respective houses.
That being said, there are also reasons not to join a Greek organization. The Greek system is not for everyone and if you don’t feel comfortable in a fraternity or sorority, it is okay. The Greek system requires dues and fees, which can be a financial burden for many. You may also not be the “frat type,” and prefer to make your own way through college and that, too, is okay. You don’t have to join a house to make new friends. While it can be tough to be an independent, especially if your university is heavily Greek, don’t feel obligated to join. Stick to your values and stay true to yourself.
Your Greek Dictionary:
1. Fraternity (Frat): Greek organization for men
2. Sorority: Greek organization for women
3. Co-ed House: Gender neutral Greek organization
4. Rush: The recruitment process when you “apply” to join the Greek house
5. Rushee: An individual who is in the process of seeking a bid
6. Bid: An invitation to become a member of the Greek house
7. Pledge: A new recruit – not yet a full member
8. Initiation: The formal process to celebrate the induction of pledges into a Greek house
9. Panhellenic Council: The governing body of sororities
10. Legacy: A rushee who is related to a member of the Greek house
Dari Seo is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group. He was Marshal of his Class and a member of the Alpha Delta fraternity at Dartmouth College.
On November 9th, I woke up at 6 am to take a quick look at how the US Presidential Election was unfolding. I had gone to bed the night before feeling calm and reassured. Like many of my friends, I had closely followed the polls and campaigns of both candidates for the past two years, and I was confident that Hillary Clinton, a candidate I vigorously supported, would win the election by a landslide. However, as I scrolled through the map and noticed how most swing states had been called for Donald Trump, I felt disappointed and disoriented.
As a US citizen of Mexican and Muslim heritage who devotes his life to helping students (many of whom are Muslim) apply to American universities, I couldn’t have taken this election any more personally.
Over the past week, many of my students have had honest and necessary conversations with me about some of their own worries and fears, and I regret how this campaign cycle has affected their perception of American college life. But this time has given me some space to reflect on the election and its implications based on my experiences as an American student, and many of my concerns have slowly, but surely dissipated.
It is important to consider that a Trump victory does not translate into a Republican America. Hillary Clinton received a majority of the popular vote by a significant margin, and most swing states that look red on the map actually had incredibly tight races. Political pluralism is alive and well, and in most areas with the largest number of international college students (Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and California, to name a few), Democratic voters significantly outnumber Republican ones. I encourage future students to read about how cities like L.A. and N.Y. have pledged to serve as sanctuaries that protect the rights of immigrants and minorities.
College campuses augment this reality even further, serving as unique, progressive bubbles where values of tolerance, respect, and equality are deeply ingrained into campus culture. The American college experience, one in which students discover their passions as they interact with people of different identities, has remained constant throughout both Republican and Democratic presidencies, and will continue to do so with Donald Trump. Students should expect to find campuses abuzz with diversity: cultural houses, international student events, political protests, STEM programs for minorities and women, inter-faith iftars…all of which marked my own college experience, will not be threatened by a change in political dynamics.
Reflecting on the campaign, we also need to look carefully at the difference between politics and policy. Trump’s controversial rhetoric was politically charged, and inflated excessively to fit his image of a Washington outsider, as reflected by his more restrained attitude as president-elect. Actually implementing many of the policies he suggested will most likely be impossible due to the system of checks and balances that form the basis of US governance: Republican Congress leaders, for example, have promised to block his much-promised deportation task-force. Trump himself has actually retracted from many of his campaign proposals—he will build a fence, instead of a wall, and rather than repealing Obamacare, he will keep some of its most popular provisions. And his stance on curtailing immigration from conflict-ridden regions actually resembles the current administration’s strict policies on providing visas to foreign citizens. Muslim students who reside in countries that are close allies to the US (such as the GCC and Turkey) will continue to receive visas with the same ease as before.
There are over one million international students studying in US universities, with Saudis comprising the fourth largest foreign student population in America. The number of foreign students in the US is only expected to grow, and international students currently make up as much as 22% of the student population at leading American universities such as Carnegie Mellon. Without international students, many state universities would become bankrupt, a fact that the US government recognizes. Over $30 billion USD is contributed to the American economy by international students, an enormous sum that no one can ignore – especially a President-Elect that prides himself on being a savvy businessman.
Beyond politics, I am confident that current social dynamics will continue to prevail, and minorities will continue to be protected and defended by citizens and lawmakers alike. The election has served as an opportunity for people to come together to reaffirm their support and encouragement for many of the minorities that were antagonized by Trump’s campaign. If anything, people are more vigilant than ever before, and more vocal about any forms of sexism, racism, or xenophobia that might harm others. Even my friends who voted for Trump supported him out of party principle and not because they agree with him as President; I suspect the same applies for many Republican voters across the country.
Most importantly, I invite my fellow minority students to see this as an opportunity to lead by example. Rather than sheltering away from engaging with people who disagree with our point of view, or even our culture, this is our chance to befriend those who haven’t had the chance to interact with minorities, and to show others that our differences are beautiful and powerful. Trump played on the fear of people who ignore the reality of our world. Let’s shine a light on that world, in order to replace fear with understanding.
Murat Dagli is an Educational Consultant at Hale Education Group and a graduate of Yale University.
Whether you’re trying to pursue an existing passion, stay in shape, or simply play to enjoy, US universities give you ample opportunity to participate in organized sports and to get involved in activities outside of the classroom. By attending a US university, you can gain access to some of the best recreational facilities and resources in the world. For example, the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University is one of the largest athletic facilities ever built; its twelve acres of interior space include a swimming pool, fencing facilities, and a polo practice room.
There are typically three categories of university sports: varsity, club, and intramural. Varsity sports are reserved for the extremely dedicated athlete who has played the sport for an extended period of time before arriving at university. These athletes may be offered scholarships by their respective school, depending on the sport and the university. The vast majority of varsity sports are governed by organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Within varsity sports, each school is assigned to Division I, Division II, or Division III, and teams compete within their respective division. Given the sheer size of colleges in the US and the facilities at their disposal, varsity athletes receive some of the best training in the country. Only students who are fully devoted to their sport, and compete at a near professional level may pursue this path. Choosing to play varsity sports is very demanding but the rewards are tremendous.
If you don’t want to spend the majority of your time either playing or training for your varsity team, or if your performance level is below the varsity standard, club sports are a great alternative. But make no mistake, the competition can be fierce. Club teams are provided limited funding by the university, which means the teams themselves engage in fundraising and promotional activities. This builds great camaraderie amongst those involved. Club teams take on other colleges who compete at the same level, while representing their own university, so there is a lot at stake. This is a great way of ensuring you continue to play your desired sport at a competitive level, but also maintain that so desired work-life-sport balance! If the sport of your choice isn’t available, you can always approach your university’s club sports director to get it introduced. The options for participating in different sports and activities are endless!
Finally, universities and colleges offer a category of sports called intramural sports. This is the most casual way to pursue your sporting hobby (or pick up a new one!). These sports involve competing against fellow students within the same school and tend to be the most social. Intramural teams don’t discriminate based on ability, and everyone is welcome to join as long as they sign up on time and are willing to make the commitment to sticking with that group for the semester. Intramural sports are an excellent way to meet people with similar interests and include some physical activity in your busy schedule. Playing alongside fellow students can give you a wonderful sense of belonging, which is important when settling into a new school environment.
As always, ask your Hale counselor if you have any questions about how to pursue these activities, and what would be the best options for you.
Sid Choudhary graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management from New York University.
Hale Student Salman Tariq Receives Full Scholarship To Study In The United States
Hale’s Managing Director Peter Davos with Salman Tariq, one of this year’s top students, who received a full scholarship to study in the United States.
Salman Tariq is the first ever recipient of a full-tuition scholarship from Hale Education Group and American Honors in the UAE. The award will cover all of Salman’s tuition expenses when he begins his university studies this fall at Spokane Community College outside of Seattle, Washington. A resident of Al Ain, Salman Tariq sought assistance from Hale in realizing his dream of studying in the United States. In coordination with Hale, he received a full scholarship for his first year of studies at American College Dubai. All of his credits from American College Dubai will transfer into the American Honors program, from which he hopes to transfer into a leading four year university next year. After working closely with Salman, the Hale Team recognized how deserving he was of this scholarship, and is proud to present him with the 2016 Hale Scholar Award.
During his time at Al Ain Juniors School, Salman emerged as a top student, receiving the highest marks in the UAE for multiple courses, including A-Level Accounting, A-Level Business Studies, and AS-Level Mathematics. In his final year of high school, he was recognized as Student of the Year, the same year in which he served as Head Boy. Salman’s strong work ethic is evidenced by multiple awards in athletics, academics, and the way he has spearheaded multiple volunteer projects. He exemplified leadership when he acted as a student teacher in his high school’s business studies course; he personified community engagement when he delivered Iftar meals to those in need during Ramadan. Salman accomplished all of this while also working for his father for two years during high school.
Salman Tariq stood out among his peers as a high school student, and he continued to receive attention for his academics and social involvement during his first year at American College of Dubai. At ACD he was recognized as Freshman of the Year and he participated in more than eight university clubs, his favorite of which was Music Club.
Salman is one of four children, and will be the first to travel overseas to attend university. Salman is majoring in Finance, and dreams of becoming a Chartered Public Accountant in the near future. His two older sisters both have Bachelor of Accounting degrees. His mother is a stay-at-home-mom and his father owns his own scrap metal business in Al Ain.
Salman always wanted to study in the US because of the quality of education and for the opportunities available for his future.
“I know that in the US, if I work hard, it will be easy to succeed. My full scholarship to study in the US will take the burden off of me and my family, so that I can focus on my studies.”
This will be Salman’s first time in the US. He is looking forward to going sightseeing when he arrives in September and attending his first baseball game.