The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Decline in international enrollment impacts UWC students

By Emily Howland

Macalester has recently solidified its decision to decrease enrollment of international students due to a lack of financial aid funds. This decision, however, could bring about a rise in the number of United World College (UWC) graduates among international students, a traditionally strong pool in Macalester admissions. Macalester is an attractive school to UWC students because its mission statement promotes similar values as the UWC’s–academic excellence, community service and internationalism.

An equal, if not greater, draw to Macalester has to do with a private grant called the Davis Grant, which offers each UWC graduate $10,000 per year to attend a selected group of liberal arts colleges in the United States, Macalester included.

UWC students in turn are highly sought out by Macalester admissions, as well as many other liberal arts colleges, because of their strong academic qualities, experience in a multicultural setting, and international perspectives.

United World College is a conglomeration of ten highly selective high schools located in different countries around the world. Each UWC draws students from all over the globe to study for two years in an academically intensive boarding school community.

“While each school is connected by a monolithic academic and social structure, they are individually autonomous,” said Director of International Admissions Jim Crowder.

Different UWC’s have different admissions and aid criteria. Red Cross in Norway requires that a certain percentage of each incoming class (which consists of about 100 students) be from the Scandinavian countries. The UWC in Canada offers all students a full scholarship, while the UWC in Singapore requires that the majority of students pay their own tuition.

The schools are connected in that they follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum and have a strong focus on community service.

Two years ago, when the Davis grant was established, Macalester enrolled the most UWC students in its history–30 out of 69 incoming international students at Macalester were from a UWC.

“The reason for the increase of UWC students was the Davis Grant,” said UWC Red Cross Nordic graduate, Cara Haberman ’06. According to Haberman there is an abundance of UWC students at Mac because the school no longer has to pay as much scholarship money.

“I wouldn’t have come here if didn’t get a scholarship,” said Tobias Pforr ’06, a graduate of UWC Atlantic in Wales.

There is no doubt that upon their arrival to Mac, UWC students tend to stick together, according to International Student Program Coordinator Aaron Colhapp.

“There is always a freshmen cluster of UWC students,” Colhapp said.

“I imagine that the common experience of having attended a UWC does make it easier for our UWC graduates, both international and U.S. citizens, to relate to each other, but I hope that does not translate into their segregating from the rest of the community,” Director of Admissions Steve Colee said.

This pseudo-segregation of UWC students is also evident between the greater international community and domestic students.

“I hear that when international students integrate with American students they have no chance to participate in conversations of pop culture because they do not know the same TV shows or music as Americans. They can bond and compare more easily with other international students,” Colhapp said.

Not only do UWC graduates connect through their unique high school experience, some come into Macalester accompanied by friends and UWC peers.

With 5 UWC classmates going to Mac, Haberman said this was a factor in her decision to come to Macalester.

“There are lots of liberal arts colleges. When you’re abroad it’s hard to find out the subtle differences between the colleges because we can’t visit them. My decision was partially based on the fact that I had friends going here,” said Haberman.

On occasion, different UWC campuses met up for events or visits, according to Sarah Paulin ’09, who is an international student but did not attend a UWC. While many of her friends are UWC graduates, she found herself at a loss at first among international students because she was on the outside of the UWC network.

“A lot of them knew each other. It doesn’t create a barrier though. [The international students] are one big group eventually,” said Paulin.

However, according to Colhapp, who interacts with international students on a regular basis, by junior and senior year international students are very integrated with American students.

“The ghettoization of international students is far less than on other campuses,” said Colhapp.

Assuming there will be a greater proportion of UWC students among the international student body as financial aid is restricted and enrollment of international students is restricted, questions arise as to the true nature of Macalester international diversity.

To some, drawing students from the familiar community of the United World Colleges is not true international diversity. “Having more UWC students will lessen diversity,” said Pforr.

The consensus, however, has been that UWC students are an ideal resource for international diversity because they represent all different countries, come from different backgrounds, and at the same are rigorous and thoughtful academically and rich in character–the type of student Macalester seeks.

“I would argue that the UWCs actually make it easier to achieve true international diversity,” Colee said. “By visiting 8 or 9 UWC campuses we can meet with students from as many as 100 different countries, many of which we are unable to visit ourselves.

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