Friday, September 28, 2012

London's Calling: Fulbright College Fair

The Fulbright College Fair at the Kensington Town Centre
The Fair started tonight!  No roller coasters and cotton candy--just high school students from the UK looking to study in the USA!   This was a huge exposition of USA colleges and universities all huddled together in the Kensington Town Center in London.  Over 700 students and their families arrived tonight.  Officials predict some 3500-4000 more coming tomorrow.  The British are coming!  The British are coming!

Students from the UK are coming to the USA in huge numbers--larger than ever before.  I have tried to find out why.  First the main reason that I have been given is sharp tuition increase for higher education in the UK.  Some students and their families say that the tuition increase for higher education is driving them to the USA.  In the last ten years here in the UK, tuition has risen from free to over 9000 GBP.   So if they are going to pay tuition why not go to the USA?  Second, students are required to study a strict professional curriculum from the beginning of their collegiate career without the benefits of a liberal arts focus.  Students are wanting the benefits of being able to study many different subjects instead a narrow occupational focus from the beginning of their college career (that often begins in their secondary education years).  Third, UK students want a more holistic collegiate experience--one with collegiate sports, extracurriculars, and the social campus life of a USA college or university.  Fourth, Oxford and Cambridge are admitting fewer and fewer students due to funding and higher admission standards.  And last but certainly not the least, is the cultural reality that renewed interest in USA colleges and universities is being driven by a weekly UK television show called "Gossip Girl" that features a young woman in a USA college.  ( I will have a little research to do on that one!).

For whatever reason, USA higher education is considered the gold standard by students here in the UK.  Just like students in China, students in the UK are wanting to come to the USA to study.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us here at Wake Forest University.  I hope that we are ready 'cause London is calling!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wake Forest University and The American School in London

Imagine your work takes you to an international destination.  You are happy, your spouse is somewhat happy, but what about your children?   We all know that a school for the children that can serve as a social center for the entire expat family can make living abroad a very pleasant experience.  Students who study in these schools have advantages of their own country but also have the extra advantage of living in another country and seeing the entire world from a different point of view. These students have the best of both worlds. They come to the USA for their college experiences with a view of the world that only a few of their peers have been able to experience.  These students, sometimes called "third culture students," bring a perspective desired in the American college classroom.  They usually show a high level of toleration, interest in world affairs, and a respect for other cultures.  I met some of those students today at The American School in London.

The American School in London, established in 1951, serves 491 high school students with a K-12 enrollment of 1352 students. These students hold passports from more than 45 different countries. Over half of these students live in households where at least one family member holds a second passport.  Studying in a robust Advanced Placement curriculum, these students are described as having "intellectual curiousity, emotional resilience, and an inclusive world view."

I really enjoyed touring this school and seeing the commitment of their counselors, Kristen Dreazen, graduate of Gettysburg College, and John Reilly, from Baltimore, their love for London and the UK, their commitment to international education, and their focus on  these students.

Mission of the American School in London

Ms. Kristen Dreazen--Counselor

The Library at the American School in London

Kristen J. Dreazen, College Counselor (, international educator!
Allison Perkins
Director of WFU Reynolda House of American Art and TASIS Alumna !!
TASIS Artist Annabelle Elford

TASIS Art Teacher John Smally


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I received a warm welcome at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), except that it was located in the village of Thorpe in County Surrey, about 45 minutes north of the city centre of London. This international school in England (TASIS, England) was the vision, as was the founding school in Switzerland, of an international educational pioneer, Mary Crist Fleming.  TASIS England began in 1976, twenty years later after the founding of TASIS Switzerland in 1956.  TASIS England has less than 800 students from nursery school to the 12th grade.  Those students, however, come from over 40 countries.  Sam Stover, Assistant Director of Admissions, formerly of Chattanooga Tennessee, travels the world looking for students to enroll in TASIS England.   Anna Wright, College Counselor, makes sure that they enter strong college environments that match their outstanding primary and secondary educational experience.  Sam states that on any given day he hears Swahili, Mandarin, French, Italian, including English, spoken in the library or school hallways.  Curricular offerings also provide a great deal of variety.  Advanced Placement  (AP) as well as International Baccalaureate (IB) are offerred.  A third curriculum is emerging with the increase of international students--international curriculum with heavy focus on ESL. 

My visit had also a personal mission.  I wanted to say thank you to the Department of Art for their influence on Allison Perkins, who holds our lovely WFU Reynolda House of American Art in her tender hands and leads that work so that we all may know beauty.  I wanted to see where Allison had been so inspired to spend her life creating and showcasing art for others.  We at Wake Forest University are certainly the beneficiaries of TASIS who provided the experiences so that Allison could lead us to understand beauty here at Wake Forest University.  I wanted to say thank you personally to those teachers. 

I visited the art department where artist in residence Annabelle Ford was leading a master class.  As mother of a soldier in Afghanistan, she had chosen to paint out her sorrow and fear of watching her son go to war and in turn to try to understand her son's desire to be a soldier (  As she said, "I decided to paint myself out of trouble."   Our Allison was formed by this school who featured this department who have been connecting art and life for decades now in this lovely ancient setting in the village of Thorpe, in the county of Surrey, England.  Just as beauty knows no bounds . . . . .  so international education. 

Traveling to London

In keeping with a covenant made with my dear colleagues in the office of undergraduate admissions I have promised to keep a blogging record of my fall international travels--tweets too.  So here I begin.  I have just landed in London, the first visit of several countries in the next six weeks. Five days in London, followed by Brussels, then about four weeks in China.  Home before Thanksgiving!!  Save some turkey for me.

I have just arrived in London.  Smooth flight from Dulles airport.  Sleeping on the plane still not easy, no matter how many pillows and blankets I can pack.  But the trip from USA to London is not as long as China.  And I can stand 6.5 hours of off and on catnaps!  No problem.  I arrived at the London hotel at 8:00 am.  Room is not ready so I wait in tired travel clothes surrounded by steaming cups of coffee.

I have arrived in London just in time to freshen up and then make my first appointment with the TASIS School in Surrey, Thorpe at noon today.  I am really happy to make this visit.  This school is the alma mater of our own Allison Perkins, Director of the Reynolda House.  I want to see the school and hopefully meet the beloved art teacher who inspired our wonderful Allison to be the sacred keeper of beauty of American art and lush landscapes for Wake Forest University.  I look forward to meeting their faculty and staff and introducing prospective students to Wake Forest University.  I will be visiting the American School in London and Cobham Hall in preparation for a huge Fulbright College Fair to be held on Friday evening and all day on Saturday at the Kensington Town Centre.  They are expecting 4,500 people.  Students from the UK are looking to study in the USA.  We will talk about some of those reasons here in this blog this week.

Wake Forest University continues to establish our international focus by searching for students from all over the world.  I am honored to be a part of this outreach.  As Tom Friedman's words continue to remind us that this world is flat, we also acknowledge that higher education competes in this new flattened universe.  And I am convinced that Wake Forest University has a distinctive niche in this new universe of global education.  And here I go!    Onward to Londontowne!