John Lee graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011. He read Economics at Dartmouth and is currently working as a Business Analyst at Capital One in Washington D.C. In his junior year, he spent his Fall semester studying abroad in University College of London (UCL). John was a facilitator of USAPPS in 2009 and 2010. If you would really like to meet and talk to him (provided he is back in Malaysia), ask him out for mamak and buy him a teh tarik!
Here’s John’s 2 cents on liberal arts education and choosing the US for tertiary education.
Why should Malaysians choose the US for their tertiary education? Something which a lot of Malaysians (myself as a freshman included) don’t think about is study-abroad opportunities. It seems a bit silly, studying in an overseas university and then doing a foreign study programme on top of that. But it’s a fantastic opportunity to travel somewhere new and study in a different academic environment. I and a lot of people I know personally experienced both UK and US university education because my university (Dartmouth) offers undergraduate foreign study options in top UK universities. 1 out of every 2 Dartmouth students spends at least one academic term studying abroad. That’s a fantastic opportunity that is nowhere as widely available in most universities around the world — except for the US. Don’t just think about the academic options your target universities offer — also think about their additional academic programmes at other institutions.
As a graduate, how has liberal arts education benefited you? Liberal arts education, even in US research universities, strongly stresses writing and presentation skills. This isn’t just about knowing how to string coherent sentences together or being able to stand up and present a PowerPoint deck without stammering, although those are important too; to communicate well you need to organise your thoughts well, in a way that makes sense not just to you but to your audience, and can convince them of what you’re saying. This has benefited me tremendously, both personally and professionally. It’s not easy to communicate well, but US education places an emphasis on this that dwarfs anything I’ve seen elsewhere.