Traveling around the globe for SJU has provided the opportunity to see places that I never thought I would see, meet people from all different walks of life and assist students that may have never been exposed to education in the United States. Every day is an adventure and I am about to give you a glance into international admissions…
Over the last two years, I have traveled to Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Taiwan and South Korea – yes, my passport is quite full! No matter where I have traveled in the world, I have learned that international travelers need to be two things: flexible and patient. These qualities help to make it through the endless hours on airplanes and in airports, attending six hour college fairs and being lost in a city where no one speaks your language.
I am currently writing to you on day eight of ten on my trip through England and the Netherlands. I find myself in a coffee shop with a few moments to spare in The Hague, Netherlands. This trip has been unlike any other that I have been on because I am traveling alone and not with an educational tour group. I have met with students studying on several different education systems – AP, IB, A-levels, GCSE and local/national systems. Every day is a learning experience for the students that I meet and for me.
Two questions I have continually been asked on this trip are: “What is a liberal arts education?” and “what is it like studying at a Catholic university?” These two educational experiences are not commonly found in Europe. I know that a liberal arts education is a very ‘American’ style of education but I was shocked at how many people do not understand why a student would want to attend a
Catholic university. The concept of a Catholic university is a, for lack of a better word, ‘foreign’ concept – not to mention a Catholic, Jesuit education. It’s been a great experience explaining what it means, how it will help the student grow as an individual and change their perspective on the ideas they hold.
The students that I meet have a unique opportunity – they have the ability to leave their home country for four years, immerse themselves in a new cultural and educational system, and leave the experience a completely changed person. I love seeing the process of their growth over their four years on campus and really enjoy being a part of their experience. I go back to their home countries the following year and become a part of their family – I am invited to dinner with their parents, bring their family gifts that their sons or daughters didn’t want to ship home (on their college budget!), and meet with their friends at their high school that would like to follow in their footsteps. Overall, international admissions has proven to be a rewarding experience personally and professionally but the reason I am in this at all is to watch the transformation of the students as they travel around the world for their education.
Dave Sicoli was the Admission Counselor for all International students at Saint Joseph’s University from 2008 – 2014.