Susan Rosa Director International Student Services Ashland University Ohio USA (www.ashland.edu) will be in Colombo on March 15 and 16 and meet interested students between 4.30-7 p.m. on March 15 at Cinnamon Lakeside (Trans Asia) Hotel.
Ashland offers one of the most affordable MBAs permitting international students to work part-time outside campus from the very beginning. It also plans offering its Master's in Education online to Lankan teachers making them internationally employable. Sri Lanka sends the greatest per ratio of students to study in the United States. A select group of these students have found their way to Ashland University with the assistance of Priyanthi Dissanayake (www.scholarshipsforusa.com) Sri Lanka's top independent student recruiter to USA.
Prasanna and Dasunmi Nayakakorala discovered Ashland University because of an article written about Dilhara Fernando last year. Prasanna commented that while he might have had more first hand knowledge about the United States than other prospective students (he worked in New York City for a year, and also lived in Texas as a child when his father was a student), "there is such an overwhelming number of schools," that he still asked the Dissas to help because he knew they could more quickly narrow down the choices and secure an acceptance package.
The Dissas again recommended Ashland University's Master of Business Administration programme (MBA) for the Nayakakoralas because it does not require the GMAT, it is located in a small and safe city, and the cost of living in the state of Ohio in the Midwest is affordable (some food is even less expensive there than in Colombo). While the Nayakakoralas enjoyed life in New York City, they already knew that they wanted to return to a location that was more conservative and cost effective, a place where they could study and raise their two-year-old daughter.
The Nayakakoralas met while they were both students studying information systems at the Informatics Institute of Technology, and were married in 2004.Because neither of them had a business degree background they started in the foundation courses of Ashland's MBA, taking a class in Management, Economics, Marketing, Statistics, Accounting and Finance.* Their core classes in the MBA will then consist of Organizational Design and Development, Managerial Accounting, Financial Management, Marketing Management, and Operations Management. During the Specializations phase they can elect to earn one or more certificates in Finance, Global Business, Entrepreneurship, Human Resources or Project Management. The final phase of the programme concludes with a capstone in Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.
Lankan students Prasanna and Dasunmi Nayakakorale with baby and sisters Dilhara and Purnima Fernando with President Ashland University.
Dilhara Fernando was joined by her sister, Purnima last semester. Both graduates of the prestigious St. Bridget's Convent in Colombo, after researching other MBA programmes, chose Ashland because of the solid classes and curriculum.
Purnima has secured a Graduate Assistantship in the Department of Institutional Research while Dilhara works in the International Student Services office as the International Club Intern, and in the Information Technology Department as an intern.
The Nayakakoralas' transition to live in Ashland, Ohio also went better than they expected. Prasanna was able to secure an internship with a manufacturing company and also works on the Orientation Team for Ashland's International Student Services office, while Dasunmi works in the Recreation Center.
While employment on or off campus is not guaranteed, the work ethic of the Sri Lankan students have made them popular employees. The other advantage of Ashland University's MBA programme is a course called 'Required Work Experience,' which then allows for a student to look for work off-campus right away, instead of having to wait the usual nine months that immigration regulations stipulate.
This programme was initiated by professors who want all students to bring examples of real life work experience to classroom discussions (and which is why Ashland's MBA programme also has a two year work experience requirement for admission).
Prasanna commented that overall "the American style of teaching is more interactive with classmates talking about their workday." Class sizes are on average small, with about 25 students. Students are encouraged to begin their post-graduate job search early in their academic career by working with the Career Development office in rewriting their resume in an American-style format, honing their interview skills through video-taped mock interviews and learning about the H1B process from a visiting attorney.
The Master of Business Administration programme is priced at $574 per credit hour, and it takes 36 hours to complete the degree (without foundations). The university recommends that you allow 2 years for studies, but some students who might not do a specialisation and take an overload of courses can complete the degree in 18 months.
Ashland University also offers a Master of Education, which is designed for the teaching profession (teachers or administrators). Priced at $451 per credit hour (36 hour degree) it also does not require the GRE, but does require two years of educationally-related work experience for admission. The university suggests that a student budget about $675 a month for food and housing, with books being another $400-$500 per semester. Both graduate programmes require a 79 iBT or 6.5 IELTS, and a 2.75 GPA (B or better in the Sri Lankan system), as well as the two years of work experience already mentioned.
Ashland University also offers more than 70 undergraduate degree majors (tuition is $26,566 per year, with academic scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000). The most popular undergraduate programmes are Business, Sports or Hospitality Management and Education.
While the Nayakakoralas are busy raising their daughter, Dilhara and Purnima have done some travelling. During the Christmas break they flew to Florida, then toured Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Center and Miami. If you don't have the time to go quite so far, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City and Niagara Falls are all within a day's drive.
*For those who do not have a business degree background, taking these courses through a Sri Lankan college or distance education programme may also meet the requirements.