Saint Paul College Interim President Deidra Peaslee with the college's new international students at their Welcome Reception on August 23, 2019. Staff and faculty joined to welcome the students all coming from 16 different countries.
Through the new Student Exchange Visitor Program, international students are now attending Saint Paul College
As the most racially diverse college in the Minnesota State College and Universities system, the inclusiveness of Saint Paul College has always been one of its greatest strengths. With the recent relaunch of the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), Saint Paul College has become even more culturally diverse.Though the students come from all over the world, many have very similar reasons for choosing Saint Paul College: family connections, outstanding value, and the ability to
start here. go anywhere.
This fall, we welcomed our first group of international students in more than 15 years to campus. The 26 new students came from 16 different countries: Bosnia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Haiti, Kenya, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
-Carol Myint, International Student Coordinator
Connections to Campus
International student Nan Poe Sandy Thway from Myanmar learned about Saint Paul College from a relative who had graduated from the culinary arts program. “When I first heard of Saint Paul College, they did not accept international students,” says Thway. After finding out about the new program, she enrolled as part of the first class of international students. “I’m studying business management and plan to transfer to Metropolitan State University, finish my bachelor’s degree, and work in banking.”
With the help of her instructors, Thway believes those plans can become a reality.
“Because of the outstanding instructors and the tutoring center, I am learning more effectively. I know if I get good grades I can transfer to university smoothly.”
The value of a Saint Paul College education is also a large draw for international students. “In terms of the cost, we charge one affordable tuition rate for every student, regardless of whether the student is domestic or international,” says Carol Myint, Saint Paul College International Student Coordinator.
For example, an international student can take 15 credit hours for the fall and spring and pay approximately $7,000 in tuition and fees for the academic year. At the University of Minnesota, that international student would pay more than $35,000 in tuition alone for one academic year.
“Overall the number of international students in the U.S. is declining, however there has actually been a slight increase in new international student enrollment at community colleges as more international students learn they can attend a community college and go on to earn their bachelor’s degree for a fraction of the cost,” says Myint. “
ZhuoFan Zhai, an international student from China, is one of the students poised to take advantage of these significant cost savings. “After graduating high school in northwestern China, I decided to study in the United States,” says Zhai. “I learned about several schools and choose Saint Paul College. My plan is to transfer to the Carlson Business School at the University of Minnesota.”
“As the first group of international students at Saint Paul College, the teachers are very happy to have us here and have helped us in many ways,” says Zhai. “I am looking forward to improving my English and making more friends – I hope to learn a lot here and become better and better.”
A Strong Start
The college has established agreements with eight local universities for guaranteed conditional admission; if the international student meets minimum GPA requirements and completes 60 credit hours, they will be accepted into the partner university’s undergraduate program and can seamlessly complete their bachelor’s degree.
Of course, a bachelor’s degree isn’t the only option for international students. Some may choose to earn their associate’s degree and return to their home country, while others – like Addy Diaz from Bogotá, Columbia – attend Saint Paul College to improve their English skills before going on to graduate school.
“I just graduated from interior design school in Columbia, and have come to Saint Paul College to improve my English,” says Diaz. “I’m studying English for Academic Purposes and with time I’m going to apply for a master’s degree in design. Someday, I would like to have my own design studio.”
This first group of international students is off to a great start – but it’s only the beginning. “Our goal is to build the program over the next three years to 150 students by fall 2022,” says Myint.
“We encourage everyone in the Saint Paul College community to spread the word to family, friends, and international connections that we are now accepting applications from international students from all over the world!”
By Megan Tsai, Contributing Writer
This article originally appeared in our College Magazine - Spring 2020.
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