We are… (crazy about) Penn State in Ningbo

An now the latest update from our admissions counselor, Sarah, who is on a recruitment trip in China….

After a 15-minute presentation halted by a power outage, some Q&A took place at LiHuiLi High School in Ningbo, China. First question: “Do American students freer than China?”

With some thought, you can probably guess what the student meant. (And don’t make fun unless you’ve had the opportunity of speaking up in an audience of fifty or so in a language that isn’t your first).

The question made me wonder: Do the choices we give American students make them feel freer or challenged to quickly learn time-management skills as an undergrad? Look at the Chinese high school students’ routine: 6 a.m. wake-up call, get dressed into school uniform, complete morning exercises. They also have set homework periods, class monitors to assist in managing large classes…and I’ve not even begun to list the actual classroom lecture time.

So when a Chinese student enters Penn State how easy is it to adjust? Does the ability to select your own courses, work outside of class on your own time, manage to eat and exercise right all the while maintaining a healthy social life make the student feel free in a positive or negative way? I imagine the routine practiced in China may enable students to naturally create a routine that facilitates fine academic progress in addition to a positive student life. It’s all about choice at Penn State. (And this is how I answered the clever girl’s question, in case you are wondering).

The opportunities are limitless and as Lou Anne Caligiuri, director of enrollment management at Penn State Greater Allegheny always says to touring students: “You really have to work at being anonymous at our campus.”  The support faculty and staff provide to our growing population of international students is key to allowing them to feel free and nurtured at the same time.

I bite my tongue when first-year student vocally underestimate a rigorous accounting class at Penn State, for example, until they’ve taken their first exam.  Admissions representatives make a point of introducing the Learning Center, as one example of a pretty general support service, on tours — and for good reason. The support services are needed for every student. Hey, I was in gifted and later graduated with honors but I clearly remember my shocking mid-term report as an undergrad freshman: 2.3 GPA!! — because it was all so new.

Penn State has a great reputation throughout the world because it’s challenging –for domestic and international students alike. As a staff member, I’m quite proud of the 83 percent graduation rate. And today I thought of how each Penn State graduate is faced with exploratory choices and met with unyielding support.

And then, we took a photo to embrace our shared (and zany) value of freedom.

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