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Report on International Education Week/04 at United States – Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission

Pre-departure Orientation

Several events were held at the United States – Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission (US-SLFC) to mark "International Education Week (IEW)" from 15 th November onwards, the details of which are given below.

Orientation for undergraduate applicants to U.S. colleges / universities

Venue                : US-SLFC Auditorium
participants       : 63 recent school leavers and students from senior secondary schools.

The orientation was conducted by the Student Adviser US-SLFC, Nelum Senadira. The participants were introduced to the US Education system, entry requirements, the undergraduate institutions and the application process. A lively discussion followed a PowerPoint presentation on how to select colleges/universities. Each participant was given a handout which outlined the different stages of the application process and a copy of Petersons’ Applying to Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

A Workshop on writing a winning college application essay.

Venue               : US-SLFC Auditorium

This even was incorporated into the routine activities of the Commission’s Educational Advising Centre to mark the IEW. The application essay being a vital part of the college application, this workshop proved most useful for the participants. It was particularly useful to those who were in the process of completing their applications. After a discussion on ways and means of writing an effective essay, the participants were divided into small groups and were asked to "create" a short essay on a given topic. This led to a productive discussion which brought in its wake much constructive criticism on the process of writing an application essay.

Workshop on "The role of the Secondary School in the Student’s College Application"

Venue            :US-SLFC Auditorium


The panel consisted of the Executive Director US-SLFC, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Principal, Asian International School , Mrs. Goolbai Gunasekara and the Student Adviser, US-SLFC, Mrs. Nelum Senadira.

Principals and 2 staff members each from 60 secondary schools across the country were invited.

This was the cornerstone of the US-SLFC’s activities with IEW and it also proved to be the star attraction amongst them. We were able to directly reach out to a large number of personnel in charge of helping students with their applications to U.S. Colleges.

The Executive Director, Mr. Jayatilaka, introduced the concept of IEW. He then spoke about the US education system and its importance in the global setting, with special emphasis on undergraduate study. He explained the need to pay close attention to the selection of the right university, keeping the particular needs of each individual student in mind. The inter-disciplinary approach to higher education, the flexibility and diversity of American education, variety of opportunities within it and the joy of cross-cultural experience of university life were showcased. He also underscored the fact that the college application essay should be the student’s own creation.

The Principal, Asian International School , Mrs. Gunasekera, spoke on the need to correctly guide the students early, on their future aspirations. This, she said, was the only way to avoid the student being subjected to contradictory, incomplete, confusing and often "off beam" information, by people who didn’t know much or anything at all about the U.S. education system and the application process. Quality, flexibility, open-mindedness and the diversity of the American system were highlighted by Mrs. Gunasekera.

The Student Adviser, Nelum Senadira, focused on letters of recommendation and the school transcript. She explained the need to be aware of what U.S. admission officers look for and to target the recommendations accordingly. She then went on to explain the significance of extra -curricular activities of a student in the application process. Using a PowerPoint presentation, she successfully demonstrated the ways of writing an effective letter of recommendation.

The programme was conducted in an informal manner which led to much discussion and an exchange of views. All participants were given handouts as follow up to the topics discussed.

A survey conducted at the end of the programme indicated that all participants were pleased with it and most extended invitations to the US-SLFC to visit their schools and address students.

Presentation of books to Kotalawela Defense Academy.

Another significant event after the above workshop was the presentation of books to the Kotalawela Defense Academy (KDA). A number of cadet officers at KDA are preparing to take the TOEFL and SAT examinations prior to applying to U.S. institutions. A combination of test preparatory books was donated by the US-SLFC for use by these officer cadets.

F1 Visa Seminar

The Guest Speaker at this event was Marc Williams, Senior Consular Officer, U.S. Embassy, Colombo . Mr. Williams explained to a capacity crowd assembled at the US-SLFC auditorium what he looks for when an applicant for an F1 visa comes in for an interview. He also discussed the issue of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information Service (SEVIS) fee and the need to be truthful at the visa interview. He answered many questions from the participants both during the seminar and afterwards over tea and snacks.

Outreach programme at Elizabeth Moir International School.

At the invitation of the Principal of the Elizabeth Moir International School , the Student Adviser held an orientation on U.S. higher education for the London G.C.E. Advanced Level students of the school. This school has hitherto encouraged aspiring undergraduates to look primarily towards Britain for higher education and the Student Adviser made use of the opportunity given her to focus on the manifold benefits of U.S. higher education to those interested in the subject. The US-SLFC donated some useful reference material to the school library.

Orientation for graduate applicants to U.S. universities.

The participants were introduced to basic information on graduate study pogrammes, the supplementary tests and other issues of the applications. A video presentation on Inside Graduate Applications was also presented. The participants received a handout on graduate studies.

Co-ordinated by: Nelum Senadira Student Adviser/Personal Assistant to the Executive Director
Contact : e-mail n[email protected]/
Tel: (11) 2564176
Fax: (11) 2564153