University Communications

EducationUSA students participate virtually

31 students from 9 countries attend EducationUSA Academy

St. Cloud State University is hosting 31 students virtually this summer as part of EducationUSA Academy.

Thirty-one high school students are participating from nine countries in the five week program that goes until Aug. 12 and focuses on constructing a personal statement for a college application, which many colleges require. The academy kicked off last week, and Center for International Studies staff introduced students to campus with an orientation session that included a virtual tour of campus. Program Director Elizabeth Valencia-Borgert leads the EducationUSA Academy efforts at St. Cloud State by coordinating the program and collaborating with the State Department to promote it. 

Students are logging in each Tuesday synchronously for practical instruction and each Thursday for presentations.

EducationUSA logoOffices across campus are assisting to explain the admissions process in the United States; introduce participants to the cultural opportunities that can be found on campus; highlight how to succeed in college and choose a major; and showcase career opportunities after college. Participants are connecting with one another outside of sessions through a WhatsApp group.

The College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College are joining in to host virtual visits to introduce academy students to offerings available at private universities and technical colleges in the United States.

“We are fortunate to have so many students from so many countries,” said Shahzad Ahmad, St. Cloud State Center for International Studies director.

Academy attendees are participating from Albania, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Ukraine, Spain, Pakistan, Egypt, Chile and Armenia.

Students participating in EducationUSA Academy gain the skills needed to be successful in a U.S. undergraduate program. They learn about the application process, crafting a personal statement, researching and selecting a school and applying for scholarships. Campus visits are a crucial component of the program, allowing students to learn about different higher education opportunities available in the United States, said Eric Christensen, of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

This year EducationUSA Academy is all virtual as EducationUSA Academy Connects, but students are getting the same core content with overview of U.S. higher education options, the application process, English language skills and choosing a major.

"Classes are synchronous and students are participating from all over the world," Christensen said. "While we hope to get back to on-campus programming soon, virtual programming has offered students a chance to continue learning, connecting with peers and exploring U.S. higher education options."  

St. Cloud State is one of just seven institutions offering EducationUSA Academy Connects programming this summer. St. Cloud State has participated in EducationUSA Academy for years and prior to COVID-19 held EducationUSA Academy programs on campus where participants learned from St. Cloud State faculty and were mentored by St. Cloud State students.  

More than 1,000 students from 96 countries study at St. Cloud State each year. A group of St. Cloud State international students is joining in to share their personal and academic experiences in a panel discussion.  

EducationUSA is a State Department network of over 430 international student advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories. The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States.