January 2021: And not one of you has complained

Dear Students and Families,

About a year ago we began changing our lives because of covid. From that moment until now I never heard a complaint from any one of you. Every one of my students has handled the past year with strength--in your own unique way of showing strength--and optimism and frankness. And, Students, I thank you for that--and for your honesty and attitude to just keep pushing forward. It's really commendable.

When people ask me about my work I always say it's so fulfilling because I get to work with young adults: you're curious, open-minded, willing to grow and fun. Students, it's been a long year and you've done amazing work.

And, with that, I want to share some recent updates, in higher education and international education itself.

  1. With Brexit the UK will no longer participate in Erasmus--the beloved exchange programme for students across the EU. Instead, it is going to launch a programme for its students to study abroad. We'll learn more about this as it develops. But, UK institutions are working now harder than ever to try to develop institutional-level international partnerships (this is what I used to do when I worked for universities). No doubt any member of leadership at any institution in the UK knows that its international ties for educational exchange are critical. Let's see how this pans out.

  2. The U.S. Department of State is temporarily loosening in-person interview requirements for visa applicants amid the pandemic.

  3. Campus culture wars have arrived on campuses in France. Also, as financial distress exacerbates mental health challenges university students in France have managed to push their struggle to the top of the national agenda.

  4. The Chinese Communist Party is targeting Chinese abroad, including students, in its efforts to rally political support.

  5. Scholars and former student activists are among those arrested in the latest crackdown in Hong Kong.

  6. SAT is discontinuing SAT Subject Tests and the optional essay on the SAT itself. If you've been working with me for a while now you've heard me say time and again that the importance of standardized testing will continue to diminish with time. I still believe this (and not just because of COVID) and see this move as an indication. It's positive; I've always felt testing served no purpose instead provoking more anxiety and stress into your already-packed schedules and lives.

Wishing you a lovely rest of the week. We'll be in touch.

Warmest wishes,

Jennifer.

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