Lois Trautvetter Introduces SESP, US Higher Education to Students in China

Lois Trautvetter Introduces SESP, US Higher Education to Students in China

Lois Trautvetter

As globalization permeates higher education, more international students are enrolling at U.S. universities. Associate professor Lois Trautvetter got an in-depth look at the global interest in American higher education when she participated in a tour of China with representatives from seven top U.S. universities.

The 2014 U.S. Leading Graduate and Professional Schools Tour was hosted by the Council for International Culture and Education (CICE), headquartered in New York, and New Oriental, higher education consulting organization in China. CICE invited participants from disciplines and graduate departments of special interest to Chinese university students seeking graduate opportunities in the United States.

Top U.S. schools’ China tour
The School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University was selected for education. In addition, the following schools and disciplines were represented in the tour group: Stanford (engineering), University of Pennsylvania (engineering), Johns Hopkins (business), Georgetown (business), Vanderbilt (education), University of Southern California (communications) and Emory (public health). CICE selected schools at the top of rankings in those fields.

The group of five faculty members and four graduate admissions officers traveled this summer to 11 cities, with each representative travelling to seven cities. Trautvetter traveled to Shanghai, Hefei, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing and Tianjin. In each city, the university representatives gave panel presentations about being a graduate student in the United States, talked about their specific schools, and met individually with interested potential graduate students. “These potential prospective students wanted to know what to do to prepare themselves to be a graduate student in the United States,” says Trautvetter.

China tour

Informing Chinese students
At each public session attended by 500 to 1,200 students and parents, Trautvetter told audiences about SESP graduate programs, including the doctoral programs in Learning Sciences and Human Development and Social Policy and the four master’s programs. Her message included this point: “We’re not a traditional school of education. We’re innovative, and we have exciting programs and research that are interdisciplinary in nature.”

Trautvetter, who directs the SESP Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy program, also talked in general about higher education in the United States and gave tips to prepare Chinese students and for coming here. Chinese education differs in that it emphasizes lectures while U.S. education places more emphasis on student participation. By asking students questions during her talk and circulating around the room, she tried to “simulate what a U.S. classroom experience would be like.”

Implications for Higher Education program
For the Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy program, the trip to China dovetails with plans to expand in the area of globalization. “The impact of globalization and international issues both domestically and abroad are being incorporated. More electives will be forthcoming,” says Trautvetter. She also hopes to add sponsored internships and partnerships, as well as information sessions geared to international students.

In addition, the Higher Education program sees new opportunities. Increasing enrollment of international students in the U.S. is creating new jobs in higher education for supporting those students, according to Trautvetter. “There needs to be more understanding economically, socially and educationally once international students, both undergraduate and graduate, get here. We want to prepare higher education administrators who will understand international students’ needs and be leaders in this expanding area.”

Comparing cultures
“It’s important to understand different cultures,” adds Trautvetter, who has traveled in many different countries but was visiting China for the first time. “I discovered more similarities than differences between U.S. and Chinese cultures and that higher education can benefit from knowing both cultures and learning from each other.”

One of the similarities to SESP students that Trautvetter noted was the Chinese students’ interest in making a difference in the world. “They have a sense of purpose and want to do what’s right for their families, their country, the world,” says Trautvetter. She recognizes that Chinese students interested in a US education “feel like it will help them make this difference in the world.”

As a follow-up to the trip, Trautvetter has information to share with SESP faculty members and graduate students. Anyone in the SESP community who will be in China this year and wants to teach a class or learn about other opportunities should contact Trautvetter at l-trautvetter@northwestern.edu.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 10/14/14