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LSA/FSP: The PR and the Truth

At what point does PR puffery become outright distortion or even lying? Take the January 27 Dartmouth Now release about the College’s once-renowned overseas programs:

Foreign Study Upswing Comp1.jpg

Things sound good, right? The College has long been a leader in foreign programs — a legacy of the Dartmouth Plan’s initial effort to bring women to the College without adding to the number of students in Hanover. But the curent truth is that in yet another area, the administration has taken its eye off the ball, as statistics from the Dartmouth Factbook illustrate clearly.

The number of foreign programs has barely changed over the last seven years: up from 42 in 2008 to 43 today, though there was a spike in 2011 to 46 programs. Hardly an upswing:

Off Campus Program Numbers Programs.jpg

And participation in overseas programs run by the College is dropping year by year: over the 2008-2014 period, the number of students dropped from 653 to 534 — a decline of 18.2% (the number of undergrads on campus rose by 3.8% during that time period). Hardly an upswing:

Off Campus Program Numbers Enrollments.jpg

The deeper truth is that the College can boast about the number of students studying abroad only due to the large increase in students going on programs run by other schools. The number of students on foreign exchange programs at foreign colleges increased from 22 to 46 between 2008 and 2014, and the number on foreign programs run by other American schools during this time period jumped from 41 to 105. That’s an upswing:

Off Campus Program Participation1.jpg

Overall, the percentage of College students on foreign programs of all types has never been lower than it is today. That’s definitely not an upswing.

Addendum: I have long thought that participation in one of the College’s foreign programs should be mandatory for all students. But a policy like that would distract Phil and Carolyn from their emphasis on high-level research, wouldn’t it?

Addendum: As we reported on December 11, 2014, the administration is worried about the hemmoraging of students out of the College’s foreign programs to the cheaper offerings of other schools. Rather than upgrading our FLSA/FSP programs to attract students, here’s what has been done:

… the College has gone so far as to impose a punitive tax on students participating in foreign programs offered by other schools: $1,100 for the fall term and $2,200 for the winter, spring, and summer terms.

There is rot everywhere.


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