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UWC shapes international admission

United World College funding program enables U. to spread out international student aid

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The University boasts the second largest number of international students who have attended a United World College high school among all U.S. colleges, wrote Rebecca Zuck, senior development associate, in an email to The Herald.

Founded in 1962 to bring together young people from different sides of the Cold War, UWC now consists of 15 schools located on five continents. Students attend UWC for two years and participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

The Davis Scholars Program, funded by Shelby Davis, provides financial support to UWC graduates who attend U.S. colleges or universities, according to the Davis Scholars Program website. UWC alums are eligible to receive up to $20,000 per year based on demonstrated need, wrote Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73 in an email to The Herald.

This year, the Davis Program donated $1,898,223 to support current UWC students enrolled at the University, wrote President Christina Paxson P’19 in an email to the Brown community Feb. 6.

The University is home to 131 UWC students this academic year, down from 147 UWC students last year, Zuck wrote.

The outside funding from the Davis Scholars Program that UWC students bring “helps us spread out international financial aid dollars further,” Miller wrote.

Because international admission is not need-blind, UWC can add socioeconomic diversity to the University’s slate of international students who tend to be from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

About 90 percent or more of UWC alums rely on the Davis scholarship to study in the United States, said Son Tran Tuan ’16, the president of the UWC club and graduate of UWC South East Asia in Singapore.

“Colleges are always looking for motivated, passionate and diverse applicants. If they’re half-paid for, schools are more likely to accept them,” said Anand Lalwani ’18, who attended UWC Mahindra College.

There’s a saying among UWC students that goes: “You may or may not believe in God, but you believe in Papa Davis,” Lalwani said. “Because he’s willing to chip in so much, other universities are willing to chip in the remaining amount.”

“I would have had no possibility of going overseas to study,” said Nothando Adu-Gyamfi ’19, who attended Pearson College UWC in Canada.

But Miller wrote that the ultimate appeal of UWC applicants is their high quality — not their access to outside aid.

There could an “indicator value” that signals to admission officers that UWC students are exceptional applicants since they have been accepted into a difficult pre-college program and have done well, said Harjasleen Malvai ’17, who graduated from UWC Mahindra College in India in 2012. “A lot of the selection has been done for Brown already,” she added.

Universities also value these students because of their diverse perspectives, adding intercultural understanding to their campuses, said Michael Goran, the founder of IvySelect. “It’s a win-win situation.”

But some UWC alums mentioned similar characteristics between the students. “Even though UWC students are different, they have the same mindset,” said Hisyam Takiudin ’18, who attended UWC Atlantic College.

UWC alums tend to plan to study social sciences or humanities in college, with many concentrating in international relations at the University, Malvai said, adding that this may disadvantage universities looking for international students looking to concentrate in STEM fields, too.

Other sources said the University trusts the UWC program because UWC schools are taught in English and use the IB curriculum, making applications easier for admission officers to process.

Universities gain “an international flavor, but in a standardized way” through these “safe” international applicants, said Michele Hernandez, the co-founder of Top Tier Admissions.

“UWC schools are Americanized,” Hernandez said. The UWC program provides the University with quality applicants without worries of forged recommendations, the English competency of an applicant or understanding a foreign transcript, Hernandez said.

In taking UWC students, the University is taking “cheap international students” but is also “skimming the top,” she added.

UWC alums affirmed the strength of their peers’ qualifications.

“UWC doesn’t provide (its students) a platform that’s greater than any other,” Lalwani said, adding that many UWC students admitted into elite institutions would have gotten in without attending a UWC school.

Schools with a large UWC population are “tapping into a source of interesting, engaged and compassionate international students,” Tran said.