I will mention one thing that bothers me, and I say this as a foreign scholar who has the utmost respect for international students and their determination to move away from family and friends in the hope of improving their education. At Lehigh we have a program called the Master of Science in Analytical Finance (MSAF), which is administered jointly by the College of Business and Economics, the College of Arts and Sciences and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering. This program was launched in 2004 and has rapidly become the flagship Master degree of the university, because it trains students in the mathematical models and computing challenges that arise in finance - I fully expect to find many of our graduates in "quant" positions on Wall Street. It is an amazing program that draws on all the strengths of the faculty, and when our undergraduates (by "our" I mean those in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department) express interest in the degree we caution them that admission has become extremely competitive.
Now this semester I am supervising IE 441, the financial engineering project course that is reserved to MSAF students; it is a year-long project all students have to take when they enter the program but is only offered for credit in the Fall; at the end of the semester they receive an "incomplete", which is changed to their final grade at the end of the Spring when they have completed the project at last. All this to say, it is a problem if they cannot enroll in IE 441 in the Fall, because it is not officially offered in the Spring (although there has been some talk to change that). Well, there are at least two students who have been admitted to the program under the condition that they would first enroll in Lehigh's English Stepup program, which is a program for students whose English skills are so poor that they are not even allowed to enroll in classes on campus until they have completed it. (And after talking with such students, I can definitely agree that verbal communication is a problem, for them and for me, as I don't understand what they are saying. I can only hope that all the sacrifices they have made to come to Lehigh will pay off when they improve their English.) There is also a third student who wants to postpone taking the project because of language problems and mentions there are others, but maybe he is talking about the other two.
And I wish international students the best because it takes courage to leave their friends and family behind, but really, we scare our own students (motivated, qualified, and with obviously superb English skills) away from applying to the program, and instead we admit those? I have been reminded of the apparent injustice of it when this week I dealt with a Lehigh Presidential Scholar (a student who graduated from Lehigh with a GPA of 3.75 or higher and as such was allowed to stay a fifth year for graduate studies for free - let me be clear that graduating from Lehigh with such a high GPA is no small feat) now enrolled in another Master program. The girl is exceptionally qualified (she mentioned an impressive list of grad-level courses in business and math she took as an undergraduate) and extremely enthusiastic, but I did not let her enroll in IE 441 because she has not been admitted into the program. She was planning to petition to get the degree but there are rules to follow to gain admission - if I let her enroll it will create a precedent for other students who try to get the degree without going through the regular admission process and news like these travel fast.
So now I feel horrible for not letting her enroll (although she will be able to late-add if her petition to get into the MSAF program is approved) because she so eminently deserves to be accepted, and meanwhile I have to deal with admitted students who cannot speak English and want to start the project in the Spring rather than now, which means that I would have to come up with a second project - more work for me! I am certain that the girl wanted to apply to the MSAF program rather the one she is now in, but enrolled in that other program as a fallback plan because she would have lost her free fifth year if she had been rejected and did not want to risk it - in my opinion she got scared by all the talk about how competitive it was. And as much as the admissions committee must have had very good reasons to admit the Asian students despite their English skills (they probably have outstanding computer abilities and an extensive finance background), it saddens me that one of Lehigh's finest is now struggling to get into a program where she would obviously excel, while it remains to be seen whether admitted foreign students starting with such a massive language handicap will be able to succeed. On the plus side, the students who are already enrolled and do not have any language issues really are fantastic.