By Ivan Everett
Pulse staff reporter
Palo Alto College is known for serving the South Side of San Antonio. However, it is also home to students from all over the world.
According to the PAC website, students come from “Mexico, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Morocco, Brazil, Mongolia and Nepal.” Of these, the majority of students attending PAC come from Mexico, said Malorie Vallejo, designated school official for international students and senior specialist of Admissions and Records at Palo Alto College.
Students travel far from home to attend PAC for multiple reasons. One is that PAC is an open admissions college. This means that SAT and ACT testing is not required for admittance. Another reason, according to Vallejo, is that “PAC is a great way for international students to adapt to the U.S. educational system.” Other reasons include small class sizes and affordable tuition.
Alamo Colleges use multiple methods to reach students abroad and inform them of the opportunities here. Direct recruitment is handled at the district level. Furthermore, multiple fairs worldwide assist ACCD in connecting students with the college. EducationUSA, whose advisors work with students in both Mexico and China, also assist with recruiting.
However, students face many challenges when they seek to study in the U.S. According to Vanessa dos Santos de Matos, a Business Management major from Brazil, the greatest challenge is that “the paperwork bureaucracy is painful and costly.”
One of the pieces of paperwork she refers to is the Federal I-20 application. This form has many prerequisites that a student must meet in order to attend a higher education institution in the U.S. This includes many of the same statutes required by U.S. students. Moreover, international students must display their proficiency in the English language. This is established by the TOEFL and IELTS exams. For students who need to enroll in an English as a Second Language program, ACCD provides this service at San Antonio College.
The tuition for an international student is also more. According to tuition rates going into effect in Spring 2017, an international student will pay $5,436 for 12 hours at PAC. This is in comparison to the $1,032 an in-district student would pay for the same hours.
Despite the multitude of requirements and paperwork, student experiences are positive once they’ve gotten in it. Many factors contribute to this. The PAC student community is welcoming to international students.
According to Gabriel S. Lopez, sophomore Oil and Gas Production major from Mexico, PAC students are friendly, sociable and seem really focused on school. PAC allows students to build relationships that will continue after graduation. Syed Tawseef Ali, a former PAC student from Bangladesh, said, “I have made friends at PAC who are in prominent professional roles around the world. PAC encourages us to build bonds with one another and encourage one another to achieve.”
The International Student Services Office at PAC is available to assist students with everything from the application process, immigration advising and even student health service options.
“The staff is very helpful with both advising and with answering all the questions that I have,” said Lopez.
International students go through a long process and financial hardship to attend college in the U.S. Yet, PAC is doing its part to ensure that students who wish to study here have a helping hand to guide them through the process. This, combined with the welcoming nature of Palominos, makes PAC a suitable option for those who would like to travel far for a quality education.