Opportunity Knocks From China

BY ANDREW BLOM // APRIL 25, 2013 // 

“They all wanted our autographs. We were like rock stars!” said Ruth Sherman, Curry College’s dean of continuing education, about visiting high schools in Wuhan, China last fall.

Sherman, Curry’s Director of Admissions Keith Robichaud, and a group of administrators from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Bridgewater State University, Salem State University, Springfield College and Wentworth Institute of Technology traveled to China in November 2012 to recruit students to attend college in the United States.

Loosely known as the New England Consortium, the group is working together to tap into the robust Chinese market. Curry hopes to enroll its first group of students from China in the fall of 2014. “If we were between 5 and 10 students, we would feel great about the future of the program,” said Robichaud.

Ruth Sherman and Keith Robichaud visited Wuhan, a Chinese city similar to Milton in demography.
Ruth Sherman and Keith Robichaud visited Wuhan, a Chinese city similar to Milton in demography.

UMass Boston is playing the lead role in the Consortium, as it has the most experience recruiting and serving Chinese students. Together, the schools are working to give students six different options of programs and campuses. “We don’t believe it’s going to be competitive,” said Robichaud. “If there is interest in one of the schools, then we’re all going to support that student to find a pathway to that institution.”

To promote Curry, Sherman and Robichaud visited high schools in Wuhan, one of the most populous cities in China that also has “rural characteristics” similar to the Curry campus.

According to the Institute of International Education, nearly 195,000 students from China were enrolled in a U.S. college or university during the 2011-2012 academic year. That is the highest number of foreign students studying in the United States.

“They need an educated population,” Sherman said of China. “They support the relocation of the students to other universities around the world so [young people] can get educated and then come back to help build the [Chinese] economy.”

Chinese students interested in attending college in the United States must first enroll in an intensive English as a second language program. In Wuhan, it is taught through Huazhong University of Science & Technology.

Curry representatives will visit China again this fall to speak to students who have decided to study in America, said Sherman.

Jane Fidler, dean of admissions at Curry, said all Chinese applicants will go through the same undergraduate admissions process as every other applicant. They will be assessed on their GPA, letters of recommendations, and essays. Students will also need to prove an understanding of the English language, and have a Visa allowing them to travel and study in the U.S.

The students would live on campus and major in whatever field they were interested in. But challenges along the way are expected.

“All the basic things we do routinely, they don’t know,” said Curry math Professor Tracy Wang, a native of Beijing, China, who has assisted in the recruitment efforts. “Once we know how many students will be here, we will recruit Curry College students to be their peer supporters.”

Wang, who created a study abroad program in 2005 that sends about 30 students to China for 15 days, said Curry is also exploring a training program for English teachers currently working in China. The program would bring these teachers to Curry to help them improve their English. Wang said she hoped Curry could launch that program by the summer of 2014.

Although Curry’s website reports that the college has served students from “over 32 countries…in the last five years,” there are very few international students enrolled in the college. The admissions department declined to provide the actual number of international students currently enrolled at Curry.

Fidler said she is aware of only one student from China enrolled at Curry in the last five years.  That student spent two years here before transferring last fall.

“Her family felt it was important that their daughter attend a ‘well-known institution,’” said Fidler, adding that the student transferred to Penn State. “She was happy here, and very active and well liked, but unfortunately her parents wanted her to go elsewhere.”

Fidler said she recognizes this concern as it relates to future international students, stressing the importance of graduating them and not just recruiting them.

“We are doing a lot of work, including creating an international team to help these students live at Curry and in the United States to make the best transition possible,” she added.

Robichaud said he sees an opportunity within the Consortium program to retain more international students.

“By developing this program, and creating a pathway for more than one student to find their way at Curry, it will provide a culture and environment to support Chinese students and international students,” he said.

Liu Guang Sheng, a second-generation Chinese student who is a freshman accounting major at Curry, said the college is currently not set up to accommodate international students. Sheng was born and grew up in the United States.

“There are no programs for international students,” he said, “and no discussion between the different cultures at Curry.” Sheng did say that things could improve, and that Curry is one the right track by bringing in more students from China.

Professor Wang came to United States as a student in 1990, to obtain a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Connecticut. The Consortium program is beneficial in helping Chinese students identify lesser-known colleges in eastern Massachusetts, and that the program could be a win-win for all parties involved.

“Curry can offer the international students higher level classes,” she said, “while giving Curry students a chance to see how the international students do their work, and to learn the Chinese culture.”

The Costs and Concerns of Housing

BY BRANDAN BLOM // April 4, 2013 //

It is that time of year again. The snow is melting, the flowers are in bloom, and many Curry students are stressing about where they’ll live next year.

According to Stephanie Alliette, assistant director of Residence Life at Curry, one of the most common problems students run into is not getting their housing deposit in on time. The deadline was March 25.

South Campus Residence Hall (SCRH) is one of 17 residence halls on Curry's campus.
South Campus Residence Hall (SCRH) is one of 17 residence halls on Curry’s campus.

But a number of students said the greatest challenge wasn’t time. Rather, it was money. Students must have a zero balance on their financial account to receive a housing lottery number. Christina Broderick, director of student financial services, said students who make monthly payments did not need to have the entire semester paid off by the 25th, but that was still of little consolation for students on a tight budget.

“If you don’t get your housing deposit in on time, you don’t get to choose housing, and that isn’t fair because some people can’t come up with that much money,” said Tim Lathrop, a freshman management major. The housing deposit is $300.

Lathrop would rather see a system with a lower deposit amount, and whereby lottery numbers are allocated based on students’ grades and how involved they are in the Curry community. Those with better grades and who are actively engaged on campus would get top picks of housing.

Jimmy Hill, a freshman criminal justice major, concurred that the worst thing about housing was coming up with the deposit.

“I don’t understand why it has to be so expensive,” he said.

According to Alliette, the deposit is a “spot saver,” and the money is applied to students’ housing costs. “The deposit tells us that you are planning on living on campus next year,” she said.

Room and board for the 2013-14 academic year is $13,130, a $370 increase from this year. This year’s room and board increased around $530 from 2011-12.

Tuition and fees for next year are also increasing, by $950, to $34,415. It is one of the smallest annual increases in recent years at Curry.

Housing selection begins next week.

Empire State of Mind

BY BRYAN LUIS // APRIL 3, 2013 //

With April here, students are preparing for big projects or tests, planning their schedules for next fall, and applying to summer jobs and internships. Needless to say, the stress level around campus is rising.

So, get off campus!

Student Activities is sponsoring a trip to New York City on Saturday, April 13. The bus will depart from Curry at 7 a.m. and leave New York at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the front desk at the Student Center.

The New York trip provides those who haven't seen the bright lights of Times Square with an opportunity to do so. // Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/snorpey/3317497657/sizes/z/in/photostream/ //
The New York trip provides those who haven’t seen the bright lights of Times Square with an opportunity to do so. // Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/snorpey/3317497657/sizes/z/in/photostream/ //

I have never actually been to New York. And as a resident of Massachusetts, I have only known it as a mortal enemy in sports and rival media market. But New York has great attractions for tourists, like Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, and the Empire State Building. There is no shortage of things to do there.

Think about what you could do for 10 hours in New York City! For some, it could be a grand opportunity to explore a completely different culture. For others, it could simply be a day of stress-free, old-fashioned fun.

Find some friends to go with, and spend a day taking a bite out of the “Big Apple.”

Save Trash While on the Go

BY COREY HENNEBERY // MARCH 25, 2013 //

As the support for “Going Green” has increased over the past few years, so has the push for recycling and energy conservation in colleges and universities nationwide. Curry College’s Dining Services is trying to reinvent the to-go food system here on campus.

To that end, Dining Services has introduced a new green recyclable container for use by students, faculty and staff. For an initial payment of $5 at any of the Marketplace registers, users will receive a laminated card with a recycle sign and a Curry College logo on it. You can then redeem the card at any food station and receive a green reusable to-go container.

Users can fill it with whatever combination of entrées and four sides they want, and pay for their meal accordingly. Upon their return to the Marketplace dining hall, users simply hand in their dirty to-go tray to a cashier and then receive a new laminated card. This cycle is to be repeated until the card or the tray gets lost. The to-go containers and cards are not yet accepted in the campus cafes in Hafer and Kennedy.

to-go-container-636x424
The new to-go containers at the Curry dining hall are “green”- both in color and in environmental awareness.

The new system—last spring, to-go containers were plastic “clam-shell” containers, which were replaced this past fall with Styrofoam plates and saran wrap—was introduced to the college community with a kickoff event in February. The kitchen staff handed out 150 free cards, redeemable for the reusable containers, to 100 students and 50 staffers and professors. Free cards and containers were again given out before spring break.

This past fall, Dining Services instituted a number of initiatives to decrease waste and cost, including restricting customers’ access to to-go cups for hot and cold beverages. Following student anger over the changes, Dining Services has returned the cups and modified other changes, including reusable to-go containers.

According to Dining Services General Manager Keal Meal, the reusable to-go container program wasn’t well advertised by the Student Government Association or Student Affairs. However, both groups were instrumental in pushing for the new containers, and contributed funding to defray the initial costs. Nonetheless, a number of students, faculty and staff are now using the reusable containers, which is lowering Curry’s food and product waste costs, Meal said.

Jonathan Morris, a freshman communication major, said he’s happy with the new containers, particularly in comparison with last semester’s system. “I hated bringing my leftovers back to my room in two Styrofoam plates wrapped in a bunch of saran wrap. It is a hassle and fills my trash pretty quickly,” he said.

Senior communication major Gregory Donnellan agreed. “We live in a very disposable society, where it’s easier to throw things out than to fix them,” he said. “This program, I believe, has the capability to be very helpful.”

Bad Romance

BY ALYSSA MCCANN // MARCH 22, 2013 //

Getting in a relationship with someone is a fun and exciting experience. But what if your friends don’t approve?

It’s great when the person you are dating can get along with your friends. If your partner is comfortable around your friends, it’s a lot easier for everyone. But if friends get too involved or decide they don’t like your significant other, drama ensues.

We’ve all been there—either your friends don’t like your boyfriend or girlfriend, or you don’t like your friend’s partner. This can create awkwardness and tension within your friend group.

It's all fun and games until you introduce your significant other to your friends. // Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelleyboone/1937843613/sizes/z/in/photostream/
It’s all fun and games until you introduce your significant other to your friends. // Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelleyboone/1937843613/sizes/z/in/photostream/

In addition to guidance from parents, for what that’s worth, friends are often the best bet to provide insights about the person you are dating. If you get a thumbs up…great! But if you get the dreaded thumbs down, you may need to reevaluate. Your friends often know what’s best for you, because they can view your relationships from an outside perspective and see things more rationally.

I have seen people stick with relationships that no longer make them happy. When their friends try to give them advice, they tend to get defensive and deny that the relationship isn’t working out. Sometimes, they need to hear the truth—even if they don’t want to listen to it.

If you find yourself in a relationship anytime soon, I suggest listening to your friends’ advice. They often have good judgment when they are on the outside looking in.

Now, if one of your friends is in a destructive relationship and you find yourself constantly telling them, to no avail, to give up on it, there comes a point when you have to stop trying. Ultimately, your friend will have to figure things out for him or herself. Eventually, they will realize that they can do better, and they will thank you for being there for them.

Friendship is a very powerful ally when encountering a bad romance.