Boston University Extends Helping Hand
The deepening economic slump and weak currency have recently forced many South Korean students overseas back home, but the visiting president of Boston University put into action a ploy to prevent international students from dropping out of one of the priciest schools in the United States.
``We reached out to all of our students and did everything we can,'' Dr. Robert Brown said in an interview with The Korea Times during his four-day trip to Seoul. ``The minute students talked about withdrawal or asked for a transcript, we stepped in to talk to them.''
School administrators sent letters to parents, invited students to appeal for financial aid and offered forums for discussion, explained Brown, who confidently said the effort helped BU retain all of its students right through the downturn until now.
The outreach was a big success for the university, which costs almost $37,000 per year on tuition alone.
Brown stressed that the strengthened dialogue with students and the school's cash conservation mode helped keep some of the most competitive students from giving up their studies.
Among them are 700 Koreans who are currently enrolled in the BU undergraduate and graduate programs, which range from management, science, engineering and fine arts to education.
International students hail from more than 130 countries around the world and South Korea is one of the top three countries sending students to BU every year.
``Korean students are incredibly competitive. They're ambitious and hardworking,'' said the president, who explained that they fit in seamlessly not only to the school, but to the American way of life.
He said BU _ which had more than 4,200 international students apply for the Class of 2013 _ is excited to see the number of Korean applicants rise annually.
``Korean students come from excellent high schools and strong foundational courses,'' said Brown, who advised prospective students to present themselves as broad as possible. ``The biggest advice I can give them is to take opportunities and be broad.''
He stressed the importance of extracurricular activities, explaining that they show two things: leadership and ability.
``They demonstrate strong leadership and that a student doesn't need 100 percent of his or her time to manage grades,'' said the president, adding that that admissions officers look for outgoing and engaging personalities in an applicant.
Introducing the university as being ``all about opportunity,'' Brown said only students who are broad and engaging can take maximum advantage of BU.
``What is wonderful about our school is that there are a variety of paths for students to take,'' he said, ``and there are excellent mentors to help guide students through the process.''
BU is not like a liberal arts college, said Brown, ``it's a broad research university that puts emphasis on research in science and engineering.''
In 2007-2008, over $336 million of research was performed by BU students and faculty, according to university data.
The school's biomedical engineering program is ranked among the top in the country. But for many Koreans, BU is still best known for its management program, which has produced many business leaders including KT CEO Lee Suk-chae and Financial Services Commission Chairman Chin Dong-soo.
Founded in the mid-1980s, BUAAK currently has more than 650 members who are active in fields ranging from business to fine arts. The association is one of the most active and dynamic alumni groups in Asia, said Brown.
He also met with officials of local universities to discuss possible exchanges in the future.
The school offers more than 75 programs in more than 33 cities in 20 countries. There is currently no program with Korea, but Brown expressed a strong interest in exploring opportunities.
``We go after the programs strategically to ensure that we offer only the best to our students,'' he said, sharing hopes for more exchange with Korea and Korean schools.
Boston University at a Glance
● Founded in 1839, Boston University is located at the heart of Boston, Mass.
● It is a four-year university with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in the fields of
engineering, medicine, law, communications, biology, education, fine arts and dozens of other
● The School of Medicine began as the New England Female Medical College in 1848, one of the first medical schools for women in the United States, and became the first coeducational medical college in the world when BU took over operations in 1873.
● It was the first university to open all its divisions to female students in 1869 and the first
American university to award a PhD to a woman, classical scholar Helen Magill, in 1877.
● In 1875, Boston University professor Alexander Graham Bell took a year’s salary in advance to fund his research. The following year, he invented the telephone in a BU laboratory.
● Anna Oliver, an 1878 graduate of the School of Theology, was the first woman to receive a
degree in theology in the United States.
● BU established the nation’s first academic program in public relations in 1947.
● Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received his PhD from BU in 1955.
● In 1965, BU established the nation’s first combined cancer research and teaching laboratory at its Medical Center.
● There are currently three Nobel Prize winners teaching at Boston University: Sheldon
Glashow (1979, Physics), Elie Wiesel (1986, Peace) and Osamu Shimomura (2008, Chemistry).
● Professor Derek Walcott (1992, Literature) retired from teaching in the Creative Writing Department in 2008.