Gaming the System, International Student-Style

gaming the systemGaming the system (also referred to as gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.

Here’s a relevant hypothetical situation that applies to Vietnamese and other international students in the U.S.

Q:  Can I transfer to a different school?

A:  Yes.  You must notify your current school and work with the designated school official (DSO) to transfer your SEVIS record. You also need to obtain a new I-20 from your new school, and give the completed I-20 to your new DSO within 15 days of transfer date.

There you have it.  You can choose a college and university that will give you an edge in obtaining a student visa ostensibly to attend a school in, say, a state other than California, in the case of many Vietnamese students, especially those from the South.  Then pack your bags, fly to the U.S., make a beeline for your aunt or uncle in San Jose or Long Beach, and follow the aforementioned procedure in order to be able to attend a local institution of higher education.  Mission accomplished!  Wasn’t that easy?

Now let’s rewind.  The school that originally issued the I-20 and invested the time it took to process the application in exchange for a nominal application fee is out one student.  Why not close this gaping loophole and require students to study at the institution that originally issued the I-20 for at least one semester?  That will make it more worthwhile for the admitting school and make students think twice about playing musical schools.


International Student Recruitment: 2+2 Equals Success

For those with an interest in international student recruitment and the 2+2 formula that has become so popular in recent years (2 years at a US community college + 2 years at a four-year college or university equals a bachelor’s degree), you might want to follow this blog and participate in the on- and offline discussion.  It’s related to a general session entitled International Student Recruitment: 2+2 Equals Success (session abstract below) that will be offered at the 2013 annual conference of NAFSA:  Association of International Educators in late May in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.  Join me and my distinguished colleagues and co-presenters:  Judy Irwin, Connect Globally, (chair), Maria Hesse, Arizona State University, and Ross Jennings, Green River Community College (WA).   


Because the goal of most international students enrolled at U.S. community colleges is a bachelor’s degree, it has become imperative that two-year and four-year institutions engage in joint recruiting and marketing activities. This session focuses on the advantages and benefits, from institutional, student, and field perspectives, to promoting such a package.

Note:  The above image is one that my company uses to promote the 2+2 concept in Vietnam.  2 years at a community college + 2 years at a university (or four-year college) = a diploma.