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EDUCATION REPORT - Some Advice on Choosing a College

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Last week, we told you that the number of foreign students in the United States had reached an all-time high. More than six hundred seventy-one thousand foreign students attended an American college or university during the last school year. So says the latest report from the Institute of International Education.

Many international students choose large schools. But a growing number of them are attending smaller ones.

Douglas Bennett, president of Earlham College in Indiana
Douglas Bennett, president of Earlham College in Indiana

Douglas Bennett is the president of Earlham College, a liberal arts college in Richmond, Indiana, that actively seeks foreign students.

DOUGLAS BENNETT: "We're a small college, just twelve hundred students. But about fifteen percent of our undergraduates come from homes outside the United States, which is astronomically high for an American college or university."

Doug Bennett has written several articles aimed at helping students choose a college that best fits their needs. He says one of the important things to consider is the size of a school. He says Earlham College is small for a reason.

DOUGLAS BENNETT: "We aren't that small because we couldn't be bigger. We're that small because we think we educate much more effectively and much more powerfully because we stay small. It stretches everyone more. It draws everyone into more different kinds of activities."

Of course, there are also good arguments for attending a larger school. Many big schools are widely recognized. And in some cases that might lead to more job interviews than a degree from a lesser known college. Larger schools also have more money, which can mean more resources for education, recreation and research.

Earlham College
Earlham College

In addition to size, Douglas Bennett says there are other important things to consider. For example: Which programs at the school are the strongest? Some schools have stronger programs in the sciences. Others are stronger in the liberal arts.

Also, what do the school's top students go on to do after they graduate? What kinds of activities are offered that might add to the educational experience? Are there sports teams? What about a radio station or newspaper?

Something else to consider is the kinds of services that a school offers for international students.

But Earlham College President Douglas Bennett says one choice tops all others.

DOUGLAS BENNETT: "The most important choice you make in going to college is who you choose to be yourself. If you're prepared to bring your best self to college, then it hardly matters where you go to college. On the other hand, if you choose not to be very motivated, not to be very responsible, not to be prepared to work very hard, it doesn't matter where you go; you probably won't get a good education."

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by June Simms. You can find transcripts and MP3s of our reports -- including our Foreign Student Series -- at www.unsv.com. And you can follow us on Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

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