Where to Send Marwan to Study in America?

Well, young Marwan in my office has asked me to find him a college or university in the US where he can spend a month or two doing a couple of masters-degree courses. He is looking at the summer of 2006.

He has never been to the US, and so he wants to live in a dorm and have some classes to go to. Mainly though, he wants to see a slice of the US.

The course of study does not overly matter. He is working on a second master’s (his first is in English) and figures at this point he can take darn near anything and work it into his plan.

University of Maryland College Park is near DC. Any other bright ideas?

(Oh! What about Las Vegas! That should open his eyes!)

If he really wants to get the American college experience, I would suggest waiting Fall or Spring semesters. If, on the other hand, it’s just to get a look at the country. . .hmm.

Big cities are good for that, I suppose. Of what I’m familiar with, Chicago has several good universities, as does St. Louis. I’m sure New York and LA and such do too.

What about a university in a typical “college town” but near a big city? I’m sure there are other (better) examples, but I’m currently going to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, which is your typical college town, but we’re 1.5-2 hours away from St. Louis (i.e. plenty close for a daytrip or weekend). Similarly, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a college town that’s about 2 hours away from Chicago. As I said, I’m sure there are better examples of this which I don’t happen to be familiar with.

Perhaps my overall advice would be: It would be really easy to limit your selection to the coasts, or the coasts plus Chicago. I’d recommend against that, at least initially.

California has some good schools. Expensive as hell to live here, though, and many school do not have adequate student housing (although grad students and married people sometimes get first dibs).

University of San Diego is good (albeit private and Jesuit). You don’t have to be Catholic to attend.

The University of California system can be hard to get into, but it’s okay.

University of Colorado, Boulder, is in a great twon.

Without a course of study to focus on, it’s hard to give advice. The undergrad philosophy program at USD was very good a few years ago, the grad program is probably good as well.

That should be “town,” of course…

More coffee, please, miss…

Since you’re looking for opinions, I’ve moved this one from GQ to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

Detroit suburbs are nice, and Michigan in general is the best state in the union during the summer. He’ll get a kick out of all the fresh water (you know, compared to dead seas and the like), and Dearborn has a huge middle eastern population.

Uh, I’d word your request a little better to avoid getting on watch lists, though. I kind of could read what you’re asking for like this: “I have a Saudi Arabian friend that wants to come to the USA on the pretext of studying; courses aren’t important. He just wants to be there.”

Well I have shot e-mails to Hood College, Frostburg and UMCP, all in Maryland, my home state. Near DC, plus I am familiar with them. I also sent an note to UNLV (darn poor web site I might add), because it tickles my funny bone.

Michigan would be nice because of the large Arab population. On the other hand, it might be counterproductive.

OK, I am crossing California off the list due to cost and lack of housing.

As of Spring 2005, Middle Eastern students were UIUC’s fourth-largest international ethnic group (after Asia, Europe and Latin America). Stats here (including a breakdown by country).

Aha! The University of Illinois at Urbana- Champalin! It took me a minute to noodle that out.

Go Terps!

But I wouldn’t really recommend it (or, I think, any school) for the summer alone. UMD has an awful summer orientation program that pretty much shuts anybody not in orientation out of the dorms. Summer classes go on, and are quite good, but on-campus residence, parking, getting around, all revolve around the Freshmen orientation kids who go through the entire summer, two or three day sessions at a time. He could easily get a sublet apartment (University Courtyards is a school/private partnership located on the campus itself) which would probably be close enough to the “experience”, as much as anything can be at any college during the summer term.

And yeah the benefit of something like UMD or a Chicago school (Maybe George Washington U or American U in DC itself? NYU or Columbia in New York?) is definitely having the American City nearby, or for one of the city schools, right outside your door. That sounds like the real purpose of Marwan’s “education.” I’d definitely recommend urban (or like UMD, just barely on the fringe of urban and easily accessed via local commuter rail or bus) no matter what.

Well, the Middle Eastern* population in Michigan is not spread around, so picking a university in MI on that basis isn’t really going to do him any good anyway.

I don’t know your background, Paul, so I’ll hit on something that has been mentioned previously. Summer classes in college, at least here in the States, are a completely different environment. There are many fewer students on campus, the classes go twice as fast, and there is not nearly as much of the College Experience going on. If he wants more flavor, a fall or spring semester would be far better than summer.

Central Michigan University is about as Middle American as you can get. It has a high girl-to-guy ratio, especially if he wants to take classes in sociology or psychology. It has about 15,000 students and is a teaching college rather than a research college; the quality of the education is dependent on the student. Because it’s not a top-ranked school, it gets a number of high caliber foreign graduate students who don’t quite have the English to go to more prestigious schools. (E.g., I knew a Master’s student from China. She was studying econ. Her GRE math score was perfect, but her English wasn’t, so she ended up at CMU.)

Another option is Michigan State University, a virtual city unto itself. It draws from all over—one of the guys in my sister’s MBA program was being paid by IBM to be a full-time MBA student—and has a diverse student body. It is in East Lansing, right next to the state capital, Lansing, so he’ll have access to some city life and still have access to non-city life as well.

So, I guess I’m suggesting MSU because it is very much a midwestern university, but it still draws from a wide swath of the States. He’ll have access to some form of American city life, yet he’ll be a short drive from the rural countryside and agriculture that seems to be such a large part of the American spirit. It’s a great school, and he’ll have the opportunity to meet students from his part of the world so have some break from the culture shock; yet he won’t be someplace where the international presence is inescapable.


*I had an Iranian student who referred to himself as a Persian.

This is an education. It seems we have to apply just about now for a shot at a 2006 slot and visa. They are calling for ten months in advance! That is almost impractical. Still, we will mush on.

Another thought. I bet some school would love Marwan to pitch some Basic Arabic classes for a summer. I wonder which schools offer Arabic programs.

Back to the net to find out.

I would definatly take into consideration his thoughts about a car. Does he drive, and does he have the money and inclination to get a car for a few months? If not I would avoid the smaller town experience, particularly out west as life revovlves around having a car pretty much unless he wants to hang out with the pathetic undergrads on campus all the time.

I’ll put in a plug for my alma mater.


College town (liberal politics and attitudes, 80,000-ish population 25,000 students) in a large, very conservative midwestern state. 30 minutes from a larger city with all that implies.

http://www.ku.edu/~arabic/index.html They also have an arabic program. Dorms are available, as are on campus apartments for those who are a bit older and exchange students. Summer classes, like at most universities are not like a fall or spring semester, but still offer a full range of activities.

I loved it.

I’ll also put some of my two cents in…I don’t know if Ohio is an option at all, but I grew up near OU in Athens and I have to say if I wasn’t at the school I am, I would be there. I am at Shawnee State (about 3 hours from ou) mostly because it’s cheaper, and I like it. But athens offers a very culturally diverse living space in a town not much bigger than 50k or 60k people. It has the apartments and all, but I don’t know exactly what, and I don’t know if they would offer the program that he is looking for, but I’m sure they have a great range of things he could look into.

Is this a good idea, remembering the last season of 24?

What, no 24 jokes yet? C’mon, work with me people!

Funny, my brother has had to navigate the UNLV website recently and he says the same thing.

As for the OP there is a largish city near here that I think has several notable institutions of higher learning, which one is it again?
He certainly wouldn’t need a car, and he could study pretty much anything he wanted. Cost of living could be factor (but I thought all Saudi’s were gajillionaires? :wink: )

Not to appear arguing w/ JS Africanus, but there are at least 2 schools where Marwan could expect a larger than average Arab-speaking population; U of M-Dearborn is the obvious one, but also Wayne State. The downtown and closest outlying campuses have manymany Arab-speaking students; I haven’t had a class there yet that didn’t have a couple at the very least, which always makes for an interesting class discussion most days. There’s tons of housing near Wayne, there’s an Arab-speaking embassy only a few miles from the downtown campus if needed and it’s pretty cheap to live in the city or nearby.
Let me just reiterate that its ethnic diversity is one of the things I absolutely love about Wayne; one class saw a Yemeni girl falling for a Hmong guy who was a total skate punk/ski bum, and it was her first Michigan winter, poor thing.