First-year international and transfer students at Georgetown University are reporting academic, logistical and financial obstacles to attending its newly-launched five-week summer immersion program.
The Summer Hilltop Immersion Program (SHIP) was introduced by the university as an opportunity for first-year and transfer students to participate in face-to-face learning and interact with faculty and peers after having to learn remotely for an entire year due to the pandemic. The international students are, however, worried about their F-1 visa status, more workload, shortened summer vacation and also lack of information about financial and tuition aid.
Contrary to domestic students enrolled in SHIP who are required to complete six to eight credit hours, international students have to meet different requirements. These include holding a valid F-1 visa and taking 12 credit hours in the first semester on campus in order to be considered as a full-time student.
To meet this criterion, an international student who has not previously lived on campus should take a heavier course load over the summer than US students, according to a student from Peru Renato Llantop Calosi who was at home for the entire school year.
Calosi, in an interview, said that it is a burden to take 12 credits over the summer and then taking 12 credits in the fall as well. It is better to be on campus and have that experience rather than doing it from home.
To help international students take 12 credit hours, the university is letting them engage in a second five-week block of six credits along with the immersion program, the university spokesperson mentioned.
The spokesperson went on to say that they are hopeful that many international students will be able to join SHIP.
Calosi added that there has also been a lack of communication between the international students and the university in terms of financial aid, visa and credit issues and additional costs. Information from the university has not been transparent and no details have been given by the university with relation to additional costs or if it will be the same cost of SHIP.
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Georgetown University is providing need-based financial aid to eligible students, the university spokesperson added.
The total cost of SHIP for five weeks is $7,500. However, the university has not provided information about the total/final cost that an international student will be required to pay.
The program is to begin from June 4, 2021, only over two weeks after the end of the spring semester. International students might not be able to go home and come back to the US. Students will, therefore, have to stay in the university-provided housing, according to a student from Singapore Andrea Ho.
Another international student shared her concern saying that international students would not have felt specifically excluded from the program if it would have been formulated such that all freshmen could be on campus at the same time.