Recently, the Dolan School of Business (DSB) began focusing international recruiting for graduate students on three main areas: China, India, and Latin America. The focus on China is not unusual considering its rapid growth as an economic world leader. Demand from Chinese students wanting to study in the U.S. has been growing, and the Dolan School has increased efforts to communicate the benefits of a business degree from Fairfield University.
Mark Ligas, associate dean of the Dolan School and director of graduate programs, noted that the enhanced focus on international students fits well with the business school’s mission. “We’re focusing on China, because, consistent with the University mission, we are committed to increasing diversity. Not just racial and gender diversity, but also cultural and ethnic. And we are well-positioned to serve these students, because business degrees are highly sought in the global marketplace. This is a terrific opportunity to attract people from other countries who can benefit from the Fairfield experience,” he said.
To get a better idea of what prospective students were looking for, the DSB administration worked closely with the Office of International Programs to increase its outreach in China and talked to current Chinese students studying at the Dolan School. “We had an informal dinner with our Chinese students because we felt that if we were going to create a more useful recruiting effort we wanted to hear from them,” said Dr. Ligas.
There is room for growth at the Dolan School. “In this past year from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012 we’ve seen significant growth—10-15 students, which is significant for our program.” said Dr. Ligas. While there is room for additional growth, the Dolan School plans to remain at a size optimal for maintaining the personal connection it is known for. “We’re relational. We’re small. We’re going to know you and give you the one-on-one experience,” Dr. Ligas said.
Jian “Allen” Sun, from Shen Zhen, China, chose to study at Fairfield University for several reasons, including the Dolan School’s specialized Master’s of Science in Finance Program and the real-world experiences that the faculty brings to the classroom. “Not many top U.S. schools have an M.S. in Finance,” he explained. Sun received an undergraduate degree in finance from Shen Zhen University and said that he was eager to study in the U.S. because he felt that the business education was stronger and he wanted a chance to study abroad independently and practice his communication skills.
“It’s been really good because I’ve learned how to practice skills such as how to evaluate a company, which we can’t learn in China,” he explained. Skills that he has gained since beginning the program include finding company data, using cash flow to evaluate its strength, estimating revenue and profitability, and evaluating stock prices. The practical application has been helpful to Sun who said, “I feel it has been very useful for me to study here. In China you learn from the book. Here, professors talk about their real-world experiences.”
Sun will also take part in financial competitions, such as the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge, where a team of graduate and undergraduate students research, analyze, and present a financial report on a publically traded company to a panel of expert financial professionals.
Yingying Gao, from Jilin, China, has been in the U.S. for six years and after graduating from Changchun University with a major in Educational Technology, applied to Fairfield University because of its good reputation, flexible schedules, and small class sizes. She said, “I enjoy having class here and the faculty are very helpful for personal career growth.” Following her degree, Yingying plans to apply to global firms in the accounting field.
The mix of nationalities in the classroom adds depth to the discussion for all students. Dr. Ligas said, “One thing that I say to any incoming [Chinese] student is that they have experiences that they can share and that other students want to hear. China is quickly becoming a dominant force in the marketplace and these students have the perspective that will add to the class dialogue.”
Outside of the classroom the Dolan School has worked with offices on campus to ensure that the Chinese students (and all international students) have the services they need for a smooth transition to the school. Some of the seemingly basic services can end up being the most important. Sun, who has a car, has driven to New York City airports several times to pick up new Chinese students who do not yet have their own means of transportation.
Ultimately the Dolan School hopes to create a good balance of domestic and international students, not just in the Graduate School, but also at the Undergraduate level as it continues to educate and empower students to be the business leaders of the future.
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