The applicant’s parents always have a lot of questions, and if a child wants to study abroad, then there are even more of them. We have designed a called Parent’s Meeting to clarify the situation and help you to understand the difficult process of admission. We hold meetings where we discuss various topics on education in the United States in the framework of the program. I thought it would be nice to arrange a meeting not only with counselors or students, but also with parents whose children study in the United States. Today, I have invited to virtual conversation Vyacheslav Molchagin. Vyacheslav’s son gained admission to Kalamazoo College of Michigan last year and is now successfully studying there.
Good afternoon, Vyacheslav! Thank you for agreeing to help and share the information. Please answer my questions.
1 When did you first realize that studying in the USA is a good option for your child? How did the child accept this idea, or was he the initiator of getting education in this country? What exactly attracted you to the education system, the educational process in the USA?
For the first time, my son and I came to the conclusion that getting higher education in the USA is a great option for him after listening to the introductory lecture offered by EducationUSA Russia team, which was accidentally learned via the Internet. Before that, we thought that studying in the USA was worth unthinkable money that we didn’t have, but after the introductory lecture we realized that with the proper attitude to the study itself and the necessary preparation for the admission process, it was worth trying our luck. The decision was made jointly with his son and the initiator of this decision was he. What attracts the US education system? Probably the fact that diplomas are recognized all over the world, the technologies are the most advanced in the world, the possibility of receiving a multicultural education.
- How long did the admission process take: preparing for exams, collecting documents, choosing universities, etc.? What was especially difficult?
Less than two years have passed from listening to an introductory lecture to receiving a letter from an American college about admission. Of course, the son began to learn English at middle school, but the preparation itself for admission took about two years. Particularly difficult were the preparation for the taking the SAT. This exam took the most of energy and time. The process of collecting documents, filling them out was not very stressful, as we received guidance from our adviser and CCC group.
- How did you choose educational institutions out of 5,000 of them? What selection criteria did you take? What was the most important for you? How many schools did you apply?
I know that usually students apply to 10-15 universities, but we had a slightly different situation. Since Sasha started the process quite early, we entered the early admission plan (ED – Early Decision) to only one college – Kalamazoo College. We learned about it while working with EducationUSA. We carefully studied the site of this educational institution and decided that it is very suitable for us in all respects. We liked its strong program for our specialization (computer science), requirements for applicants, the provision of financial assistance to foreigners, etc.
- How did you allocate your time in the year of application? How did you plan everything? Were there any problems with getting documents from school? How was the interaction with teachers?
It is difficult to say how the son allocated his time in the year of admission, but he took the SAT twice and the TOEFL three times in order to improve the final scores. There were no problems with paperwork from the school, and the teacher and the director of the gymnasium where the son studied, reacted to the decision of the son with understanding and due respect. The gymnasium director and physics teacher wrote excellent letters of recommendation, which I am sure played a role in the examination of the documents of the son by the selection committee. The principal of the gymnasium was the main adviser and filled out all the necessary information on the website
- Do we know that you attended EducationUSA center events? Which of them did you find particularly useful?
My son and I attended both online events and came to Moscow to fairs organized by EducationUSA Russia. It seems to me that all the events held by EducationUSA Russia are important, each, in its own way, is unique. For example, the uniqueness of the 120 credits program lies in the formation of knowledge about the stages of preparing documents for the admissions committee, knowledge about their completion, knowledge about the importance of choosing a university, knowledge about how it is necessary to declare itself to the admissions committee, which the student sees only through the documents submitted to him. The 120 Credits program, in my opinion, is very difficult to overestimate, since this program provides unique knowledge about the possibilities of entering a US university, which you will not find anywhere else.
6 And what happens after completion of the 120 Credits program?
After completing the 120 credits program, it is possible to get individual advice from EducationUSA Russia specialists. By the way, program 120 can and should be passed by parents as well. So, it will be easier for you to navigate what is happening and you will be able to help your child more. For parents of incoming schoolchildren, classes on admission steps, webinars, etc. are held. Please note that EducationUSA Russia also offers such intensive training programs as CCC and PreCCC. You will find more information on the website.
- Your child has left and is currently studying at a university in the United States. What does he say about his learning experiences in this country? Is it hard for him to study? How do teachers relate to him? What classes does he enjoy attending? How many homework assignments?
He studies hard, the load is big, plus academic English. Teachers are exceptionally well, for obscure issues, professors can be consulted for additional advice. There are a lot of homework assignments, in fact 75% of the time is self-study.
- And what does he say about life in general, some cultural differences? Isn’t she bored? Does he have any friends? Is there any time to relax? Where does he live and how is his life adjusted?
The son lives on a college campus in a double room with a neighbor – an American. The son does not notice any special cultural differences; he has many friends, both from the African continent, and from Europe, and from Japan, and from South Korea. As an example of the diversity of student life on campus, I would like to tell you that on March 6 this year, in the college’s concert hall, where my son is studying, an orchestra consisting of professors and college students gave a concert “Russian Reflections”, the program of which included works of Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitry Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky. Before the concert, its organizer and conductor Thomas G. Evans, on the example of the image of the Russian troika, told the audience about what a magnificent country Russia is, which he visited personally and recommended that everyone visit Russia at least once in his life. I believe that this is a striking example of the true attitude of Americans to our country.
- The pandemic that swept the whole world could not but affect the learning process in U.S. universities. What is happening with the son now? Where is he
In the United States, universities themselves decide how to conduct classes in the current pandemic. Each university decides whether to transfer students to a credit / pass system instead of a full grading system? What to do with international students: leave them on campus or send them home? As for classes, everything falls on the shoulders of the professor. The professor decides how to conduct his course. We will tell you more about this, based on how my son is studying at Kalamazoo College.
Kalamazoo College was a little lucky because it has a trimester system of education instead of the standard semester and the pandemic in the United States fell just at the end of the second trimester and on vacation. This allowed professors to completely rebuild their subjects for online learning, and students to relax a bit and accept the situation.
As for foreign students, it was decided to send them home. My son now has only three subjects: computer science, business, and academic writing. However, online lectures are conducted only on business. The professor of computer science sends video presentations and assignments with detailed explanations. The academic writing instructor divided the students into groups of 4 people and works individually with each group. Examinations will be held only for business, but it is not yet clear in what form. If you have stable access to the Internet, then learning is not difficult at all. But, unfortunately, not everyone has it. Professors understand this and try to be as flexible as possible, which literally translates as “flexible.” That is why there are no strict deadlines for tasks. And most importantly, the professors are ready to meet on the Internet with any student at any moment, if necessary. Despite the fact that online learning is not exactly the experience that I would like to get, universities are trying to provide the highest quality interactive teaching method, realizing that absolutely all students miss the campus and wish to return as soon as possible.
- Yes, we understand that this is not an easy time, but still … What advice can you give schoolchildren and their parents about entering and preparing to leave for the USA to study?
I can only advise parents and schoolchildren, cast aside all doubts and, if you want to study in the USA, do your best to prepare for admission and allow myself to express confidence that you will never regret it.