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January 20, 2008

Two-Year Colleges Go Courtin' Overseas

Jane Porter:

Marketing an obscure Wyoming community college to Vietnamese high schoolers presents special challenges. Many have never heard of Wyoming, and, if they have, it's usually thanks to the movie Brokeback Mountain. So when recruiter Harriet Bloom-Wilson from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., visits the International High School in Ho Chi Minh City, she focuses on the college's nurturing, small-town environment. That's what sold "Grace" Thienan Nguyen, 19. The business major also notes she can transfer to a full-fledged university.

An American Ivy League education has long been prized by wealthy families in Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Now more and more middle-class kids, whose English-language skills won't pass muster at universities, are discovering two-year programs. Keen to attract these kids and stand out in a crowded field, schools are ramping up their global marketing efforts.

It's no secret why Nguyen and her peers are descending on community colleges. Besides being easier to get into than universities, they also cost far less. "The notion of smart shopping for international education has really begun to spread," says Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice-president of the Institute of International Education.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at January 20, 2008 12:00 AM
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