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Global Network Providing Resources on Study in United States

EducationUSA advisers promoting opportunities for students from other nations

Posted: June 3, 2005

Seattle -- Eighty U.S. Department of State-affiliated advisers, part of a global network of more than 450 EducationUSA information centers, are among the more than 6,600 educators, administrators and government officials from 95 countries gathered for a May 31-June 3 conference on international education.

The theme of the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA) 2005 conference, "Opening Minds to the Global Community," also goes to the heart of these advisers’ work -- to engage prospective students in 170 countries and provide them with information on opportunities for higher education in the United States.

Speaking at the conference's opening session May 31, NAFSA Executive Director Marlene Johnson said those working to ensure study-abroad opportunities are "at the forefront of public diplomacy ensuring the world's capacity to wage peace because our future leaders have studied and lived outside the comfort of their own culture."

At the conference, the advisers not only are developing contacts with higher education admissions officials to promote more effectively the United States as a study-abroad destination, but also are sharing their expertise by leading conference sessions on topics ranging from credential evaluations in the Middle East-North Africa region to addressing how to turn the "brain drain" phenomenon to one of capacity building for developing countries in Africa.

In an interview with the Washington File in Washington the week before the conference, State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Education Information and Resources Branch Chief Phillip Ives said, "We want to reach out to help students in other countries understand that the United States is a very welcoming nation and that the welcome mat is out."

Navigating the diverse array of U.S. higher education opportunities for prospective students overseas can be a "daunting task," Ives said. But he added that EducationUSA advisers are prepared to assist prospective students in making the "right choice."

Ives cited obtaining a visa, the costs of higher education, the extensive application process, and perceptions that the United States no longer is welcoming students from other countries as factors sometimes viewed as "barriers or obstacles" for prospective applicants to U.S. colleges and universities.

In a separate interview in Seattle, Kristen Cammarata, a Morocco-based regional education advising coordinator with the State Department, said that those factors can be "daunting" but prospective students can find support and information at EducationUSA advising centers.

Advisers provide guidance on how students can put together a "complete application" that maximizes chances for admission, Cammarata said, and also assist students in overcome "cultural differences.”

A prospective student considering study in the United States, Cammarata said, should visit an EducationUSA.


The educational advising and information centers, which represent all accredited U.S. higher education institutions, offer information sessions on how to select a college, how to prepare for standardized tests, how to write application essays, and what to expect on U.S. campuses. The centers are located in U.S. embassies, Fulbright Commissions, nonprofit organizations, libraries and universities.

"Quality [of education] is the biggest attraction" U.S. institutes of higher learning hold for prospective students from the Czech Republic, Jakub Tesar, educational adviser at the Fulbright Commission in Prague, Czech Republic, told the Washington File in Seattle. He added that research opportunities, especially at the graduate level, as well as the global, multicultural skills that can be acquired, are "selling points" for studying in the United States.

Tesar said his office provides guidance on selecting schools and information on the application process.

"There is an ocean of information [on studying in the United States] and one can easily get lost in the sea," he said. Tesar urged those interested in studying in the United States to visit a State Department-affiliated advising center.

Tesar added that his office also conducts numerous public outreach activities, including one-hour interactive seminars on study opportunities in the United States and how the higher-education application process there differs from that in the Czech Republic.

Maria Paniakova, a program and student adviser at the Fulbright Commission in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, said the commission's advising centers provide accurate, comprehensive, current and unbiased information.

"We [EducationUSA advisers] are there to be helpful, and to do what we can to assist each and every student to progress through the various stages that lead to admission at a U.S. college or university," Ives said.


The State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs EducationUSA Web site also provides useful information and services for prospective students considering study in the United States, according to ECA's Ives.

The site offers a menu of types of programs (undergraduate, graduate, specialized professional study, opportunities for scholars, short-term study) as well as links to predeparture information, materials on living in the United States, and tips on choosing an educational institution. The site also includes a link to a find-a-school search engine developed especially for EducationUSA.

EducationUSA also provides information on standardized tests, the visa process, admissions, financial aid and links both to other U.S. government Web sites and external resources. The site also includes links to publications such as the four-part If You Want to Study in the United States series in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Tony Kujawa
Washington File Staff Writer

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