Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Choice of School Matters. Be Careful.

With the recent news of a California school for international students being closed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in January, what lessons can other students learn about their own situation? How should students think about their school choices when they are deciding where to study in the USA?

[To read the article about the school that the US federal government recently closed, go to]

What happened?

According to reports, students were enrolled at Tri-Valley University and had I-20s there. The school didn't keep attendance records for classes, and students almost never attended. Many of the students weren't even living in the same state as their school. Some were living as far away as New York. After an investigation, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raided and closed the school and even put radio tags on some students' legs to make sure they didn't leave the country. The investigation continues, but this week all Tri-Valley University students' I-20s were terminated in the SEVIS system.

This school was advertising on Orkut frequently, trying to convince students to join their "university" and get an I-20 without having to attend classes. See the example below:

Did the students know that their school was acting illegally?

During the ICE investigation, it became clear that students knew that their school was not a real university. The administration of the school was not requiring students to attend classes, and students didn't mind. No students complained about the school because they didn't want to end their easy situation. They preferred to work illegally and not attend classes. Because of this, the students' I-20s were all terminated when the school was closed.


What will happen to the students?

As the investigation continues, many of Tri-Valley University's students cannot travel or leave the United States. They have been advised to have lawyers help them with their cases. Some students' visas may be returned, but because Tri-Valley University was not accredited, their university courses are not recognized by other real universities and they are not transferable to other real universities. The students have wasted their money and will have to start their university education again with zero credits at a different school if they decide to stay in the USA after the investigation.

What does this mean for other international students?

There is a lesson that we should learn from this: If you are an international student in the United States, be careful about the school you choose to enroll in. Is it a real school, or are they just pretending to be a school so they can make a lot of easy money from you? Even if a school has "UNIVERSITY" in its name, it can still be illegitimate and irresponsible. And sometimes students even try to find schools that don't keep attendance records and that don't require students to be present for classes. This may be easy and favorable for lazy or misguided students, but it can also mean that the US federal government will soon close the school, students' visas will be terminated, and each student will have to wear a radio tag on their leg.

Think of it like this: If a bar is serving alcohol to people who are not old enough to legally drink in the USA, the police will close the bar and punish all of the young drinkers inside too. The same idea applies to schools that don't follow Department of Homeland Security regulations. Don't put yourself in an irresponsible and dangerous situation just because it sounds easier. It is your responsibility to select a school that is good for you.

In other words, make sure that you use your F1 student visa to study in the US. If you want to get a job and you don't want to study, get a J visa or use the right ways to get an H (work) visa. Schools that don't follow federal laws are irresponsible, and students who decide to go to those schools are asking for trouble as well. Make the right choice for your education and for your life. Attend a legitimate language school in San Diego or university in San Diego.

Connect English is a good example of an English school in San Diego that truly educates students, but also has a lot of fun. Students learn a lot in their classes, but also have many opportunities to explore San Diego with their classmates. If you want to see for yourself, check out the Connect English testimonials page and read what our students have said.

To learn more, contact Connect English today:
Phone: (619) 283-2811


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