A few days ago I stumbled across an eye-catching article from U.S. News & World Report entitled, “Colleges With The Most Students Who Study Abroad.” Having studied abroad in France as an undergraduate, an experience I can’t write enough good things about, I read on with great interest. Which college was tied for first, having had 100% of its 2014 graduates study abroad? Why, it was California’s Soka University of America!
100% of the school’s graduates studied abroad?! Now that is impressive!
After this small taste of what Soka University has to offer, along with the discovery that “Soka” is a Japanese word meaning “to create value”, I was determined the learn more. Readers, welcome back to the 3026 Series!
To begin with, study abroad (and “in a country in which the student’s language of study at SUA is the principle language spoken“) – how do they do it? Exploring the university’s website, I came across this: “A unique aspect of the curriculum at SUA requires that all students participate in a semester studying abroad during their junior year. The cost of study abroad is included in tuition.” Cool! But it doesn’t end there. Reading on, I came across another gem of a fact – “About 60% of our students come from the US and 40% have come from more than 40 other countries.” Imagine sitting in such a diverse classroom! I consider this a great attribute of the school.
The campus itself is located about one hour north of San Diego and one hour south of Los Angeles and, as is pointed out on the school’s website, is “surrounded on 85% of its border by the 4,000 acre Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park“, has architecture “reminiscent of Tuscany, Italy”, has “more than 50% of the campus devoted to natural and landscaped open space”, and is located only three miles from the beach – idyllic!
What else? Well, how about this? Soka University was recently ranked very highly by US News & World Report for “best value, diversity, and happy freshmen”, along with ranking first for “Foreign Student Factor” and “Faculty Resources.” The university can also boast of an impressive 8:1 student/faculty ratio. More? Well, Soka University offers free tuition to students whose families earn $60,000 or less. Further, the school shines at niche.com (in particular, earning an A+ mark for housing, diversity, and weather), and also has some noteworthy achievements on the College Scorecard. Of what do I speak? A below average annual cost for federal financial aid recipients ($10,450), an above average graduation rate (88%), and 96% of students returning after their first year (the national average is 67%), to name but a few examples.
And, of course, academics. Undergraduates at Soka University of America earn a B.A. in Liberal Arts (there is only one major!) and have a concentration in either Social & Behavioral Sciences, Environmental Studies, International Studies, or Humanities. As seniors, SUA students also do a Capstone Project, the goal of which is to “gain in-depth knowledge about a topic within your field of concentration, drawing upon all the skills and knowledge you have developed during your career at Soka.” To learn more about academic life at Soka, check out the Soka University of America Catalog. Finally, if what you’ve just read has piqued your interest, then a visit to the school’s admissions page is a must. A value-creating educational experience, including a fantastic study abroad experience, may well be in your future!