Friday, November 2nd, 2012

After Nov. 1 and Before Dec. 1 Deadline Info

Greetings from UT Undergraduate Admissions!  We are just past our  November 1 early application deadline and a few weeks away from our regular December 1 application deadline. Here is some information for you to let you know what is happening now and what to expect over the next few weeks.

Another group of incredible applications was submitted by the Nov. 1 deadline! Thank you for your interest in UT and showing us some love with your applications and supporting documents!  We are now in the process of evaluating your high school transcripts and matching all of your documents together with your application in our system. As you can imagine, this takes some time now that everything is arriving in our office via online applications, online submission of your supporting documents, and submission of documents through the US Postal Service.  

If you applied via The Common Application, it is important for you to know that we are importing all of your information from the Common App (application, UTK supplement, teacher evaluations/rec letters, and school forms, which include your high school transcript) into our system. There is a 8-10 day delay, however, of you being able to see your status as complete in your VIP page because once we import those documents, they still have to be named and matched with your application behind the scenes. Please know that as long as the documents were submitted, we have them, and we are working hard and as quickly as possible at matching all of your information together.  So, even though your VIP status might say you are missing a high school transcript or a recommendation right now, as long as your counselor has submitted it, we have it.  Be patient with us over the next 8-10 days as we process all of your documents.

We have already started making admission decisions and were very excited to be able to start that process even prior to our first deadline this year. Again, thanks to many of our applicants for submitting their information early so we could do so!  We will continue to make decisions from now into the spring.  Institutional scholarship offers will start rolling out shortly after the first round of admission decisions; competitive scholarship offers will begin in late January.

If you have not applied yet, don’t forget that the regular application deadline of December 1 is right around the corner. Remember to complete and submit your  application for admission and ask your counselor to send us your high school transcript. As you are working on the personal statement, don’t overly stress about it, as it does not need to be a formal essay. Just use the personal statement as an opportunity to introduce yourself to us in more detail and share anything with us that you think would be helpful to know as we review your application.

And, finally, a note to our Architecture applicants. The portfolio deadline is December 1. Please know that there is a file upload size restriction in the online applications. If you would rather send your portfolio to us by email or regular mail, that will be fine as well. Mail them to Undergraduate Admissions, 1331 Circle Park Drive, 320 Student Services Building, Knoxville, TN, 37996 or email them to Curt Lefler at

 As always, if you have any questions, please email us at

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

$250 Enrollment Deposit–How To Guide

Greetings! If you are an admitted freshman for Summer or Fall 2012 and need to pay the $250 Enrollment Deposit, please follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Only incoming, domestic, first-time freshmen are required to pay the enrollment deposit. The $250 deposit is due by May 1 and is non-refundable. After you pay this deposit, you will receive your housing contract in your UT email account and will also be able to register for summer Orientation.

What you will need:  Your UT NetID and password. Your UT NetID is mailed to you from the Registrar’s office about a week after you receive your admit packet in the mail. Once you have your NetID, set up your own password. (Note: The instructions for setting up your password encourage you to use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. However, we have found that the deposit system isn’t fond of special characters, so just use letters and numbers if possible)

Once you have your NetID and have set up your password, follow the step-by-step instructions to pay the $250 enrollment deposit.

If you need help, or have been admitted but have not received your NetID letter yet,  you can always reach us at

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Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Freshman Admission Updates and Info

Hello Vols and Future Vols! Greetings, once again, from the office of Undergraduate Admissions. Since we have entered the time in the process where some students have been offered admission, some have been deferred, some have confirmed, and so on, you will find some useful information below about where different groups are in the process.

Deferred students (This is you if you have received notification from us that your file has been deferred for further review)–”Deferred” does not mean admitted, nor does it mean denied. It also does not mean you have been placed on any sort of wait list. Being deferred simply means that we would like to review your file again, and if possible, we would like to have any new ACT or SAT scores from the November, December, or January test dates as well as your mid-term (7th semester) grades from half-way through your senior year. To self-report your grades, simply go to your VIP page, log in, and follow the links to the grade portal. While you will not see an updated GPA in your VIP page, we will consider your self-reported grades when we holistically review your file again for a decision. You may also have a 7th semester high school transcript sent by your guidance counselor, but we highly encourage you to self-report your grades as this is the fastest way for us to see them for review. It is not required to do both…you may self-report OR have an updated transcript sent, but again, we encourage you to use the online portal to self-report your grades. We will make final decisions on deferred files around mid-March.

Admitted students (This is you if you have received an official letter from us offering admission, but you have not confirmed yet)–Congratulations on being offered admission! In your admission packet, there was a sheet of paper called “What’s Next”, which details for you important information as to next steps in the process. If you can’t remember where you put it, you can find a copy here.  You will notice that the first thing it tells you to do is set up your UT email account. To do so, however, you need a letter from our Registrar’s office with your NetID. Your NetID will be all or part of your last and first names. If you have been admitted and have not received this letter yet, you can always email us at admissions@utk.eduor give us a call at 865-974-2184. It takes a week or so for your NetID to be generated after you are admitted, so don’t worry if you don’t have one yet if you were recently admitted.

After you have your NetID, you will also be able to pay the $250 Enrollment Deposit Confirmation. By doing so, you are letting us know that you intend to enroll at UT in 2012. This non-refundable deposit is DUE BY MAY 1. To pay the deposit via MyUTK, we highly recommend that you print out these step-by-step instructions before you get started. We promise it will make your life much easier when you log in to pay the $250. After you confirm, you will receive information about Housing and Student Orientation in your UT email account.

Confirmed students (This is you if you have been offered admission and you have paid your $250 enrollment deposit)–Congratulations on your decision to become a Tennessee Volunteer! After you confirm, you will receive your campus housing contract in your UT email account and you can register for Student Orientation. Remember, the sooner you accept your housing contract, the more likely you are to be placed in the residence hall of your choosing as assignments are based on the date of contract. So, the earlier the better.

Transfer students–If you are a transfer student who has applied for Summer or Fall 2012 and you have a complete application, you should have an admission decision by the end of February. We apologize for a slight delay on our end in the processing of transfer applications due to the implementation of a new system, but we are working towards making decisions as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at, or post your questions on our Facebook page.

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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Life of a Travelling Admissions Counselor

Guest blogger: Richard Spencer, UTK Admissions Counselor

If you ever wondered what it’s like to be a traveling Admissions Counselor, here you go. I hope these blogs give a little glimpse of life on the other side of the fair table. Last weekend, I had a wild 72 hours, and I wanted to share the experience with you.

Friday 9/16

7:30am: Leave hotel in Wytheville, VA for college fair in Radford, VA

8:15am: Get lost on campus of Radford University. Directions don’t specify in what building the fair is located. Find other lost counselors. Try basketball arena. Success.

9:00-11:00am: Radford area college fair

11:00-2:30pm: Drive to Knoxville. Enjoy Taco Bell drive thru in Bristol.

2:30-4:00pm: Go to campus. Paperwork. Turn in UT car. Help two other co-workers get their UT cars. Have co-worker take me home.

6:00pm: Attend TN Valley Fair in Knoxville with friends. Eat deep fried Snickers on a stick. Awesome.

8:00pm: Attend Boyz II Men concert at TN Valley Fair. (Note: After 20 years, they still have it.)

11:00pm: Return home. Do laundry. Pack for a week in Florida.

Saturday 9/17

1:30am: Go to sleep. Spend 4 hours in my own bed.

5:30am: Wake up. With three alarms scattered about the room. Can’t miss flight.

6:00am: Depart for Knoxville Airport (early flight scheduled so not flying during the football game).

7:30am: Fly to Atlanta. Kill an hour in the Atlanta airport (which I don’t think is that bad).

9:30am: Fly to Tampa. Enjoy exit row leg room. It’s the little things in life.

11:30am: Pick up rental car. Drive to Clearwater Beach, FL to kill time before the football game.  While there, try to think of better ways to kill an hour than walking the beach at Clearwater when it is 92 degrees. Fail.

2:00pm: Arrive at Green Iguana sports bar to meet the Tampa chapter of the UT Alumni Association for the football game viewing party. 50 people in attendance. Am told there are usually even more, but with the game in Gainesville, many made the trip up.

3:30-7:30pm: Have wonderful time with fellow alums even though UT loses to Florida. Win alumni t-shirt in raffle! Meet alums who agree to help with a few college fairs this week!

8:00pm: Arrive at hotel in St. Petersburg. Am told by front desk attendant that packages containing materials for week’s fairs have not arrived via UPS. Staff double checks. No packages. Panic Attack. Bellman personally goes looking for packages. Upon trying to find room, I accidentally walk into a wedding reception. Whoops. Phone Call. Packages found! Call valet to bring my car around to load it. Walk out front door of hotel and into picture of bride and groom. Seriously?! Load car. Watch episode of Parks and Recreation. Fall asleep.

Sunday 9/18

9:00am Wake up to the sounds of a tennis clinic at the hotel. Think to self that after package fiasco, wedding interruptions, and tennis clinic, maybe a large resort wasn’t the best idea even if it offered government rate. Stick to your favorite: Residence Inn by Marriott. (The rooms are like apartments!)

11:00am: Check out of hotel. Enjoy massive IHOP breakfast. Try turkey sausage. Enjoy it.

1:00-3:00pm: St. Petersburg area college fair

4:00pm: Arrive at Tampa hotel.

8:00pm: Blog.

As you can see, I’ll never be able to tell anyone that my job is boring. And that’s a good thing. Literally something new every day. I’ll be in Tampa and Fort Myers until Friday. More stories to come.

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Friday, September 16th, 2011

Back on the Road Again!

Greetings from Undergraduate Admissions! The changing of seasons is here and in East TN, and in our office, that means the changing of the leaves, recruitment for next fall’s freshman class, and of course, football.

Our guest blogger today is Richard Spencer, UT Admissions Counselor. Read about Richard’s adventures as he travels across TN and the US to recruit future Volunteers:

     Hello from the road! It’s that time of year again. Our Admissions Counselors are out of the office and on the road. We are out there recruiting the best and brightest to The University of Tennessee at college fairs and private visits at various high schools across the nation.  The travel season kicked off two weeks ago with a few Tennessee area college fairs, but we are now in full swing with counselors spread across the state and currently in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

As for me? I’m writing to you from Lynchburg, VA. This is my first time visiting Lynchburg, and I must say- very nice town.  Southwest and Central VA is a beautiful part of the country, and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to visit here.  One of the many benefits of our recruitment season is the opportunity to travel to new places that many of us have never been.  My Virginia travels (for vacations) have previously included Charlottesville, Jamestown and Williamsburg, and the suburban DC area.  But this week I get to visit Roanoke, Lynchburg, Wytheville, and Radford.  I’m really getting a taste of the entire state and loving every bit of it.

I’m a traveler. I love getting out of the house/hotel and visiting new places. It’s honestly one of the things I love most about my job- meeting new people and exploring new communities. If we had the budget to travel year round, I’d be the first to volunteer.  And one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of traveling around the country is this: Never turn down a detour. The quickest way to your destination may be a straight line, but straight lines are boring.  If all you have to do is get from Point A to Point B and you have no set schedule or timetable to do it, why not make a few right turns? Why not try a few miles of a scenic route? You never know what you may find…

On Tuesday afternoon, I wrapped up my visits in Roanoke. The only thing left on my agenda was to drive an hour away to Lynchburg.  Being in no hurry to sit around in my Lynchburg hotel room, I took a quick look at Google Maps and realized that the Blue Ridge Parkway ran right up beside Roanoke.  15 miles of my trip could be on the two lane, National Parks protected highway rather than the six lane, traffic congested freeway.  This was my first time on the Blue Ridge Parkway and it reminded me of the Natchez Trace which runs through Tennessee and Mississippi.  Just a few miles down the road, I saw a sign offering a 4 mile loop up to the top of Roanoke Mountain.  I love right turns.  And this one was one of the best decisions I’ve made in weeks.  I cruised to the top to find myself alone, atop the summit overlooking the greater Roanoke area.  I sat there for a few minutes taking in the view and headed then back down.  And it added what like 15 minutes to my trip? Totally worth it as you can see below. 

Never be afraid to take a detour in life. I’m not saying you have to alter your life plans.  Just don’t be afraid to take a right turn every once in awhile. You’ll still arrive at your ultimate destination, just maybe in a more memorable manner.

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Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Summer=Good Time of Year but Bad TV

This week’s guest blogger: Eric Stokes – Assistant Director

Warm weather and graduations mean summer is here!  I certainly welcome the arrival of summer because this spring was a busy one.  It seemed like every other weekend we had some type of work-related program complete with sporadic daily travel throughout the week.  While the down-time of the summer is nice, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks.  There are very few students on campus during the summer which is the very reason I enjoy coming to work; to interact with students.  Sure, sometimes it’s annoying when one or two of my students pop their head in my office unannounced and ask me, “Are you busy?”  Well of course I am, I’m at work, but I like to hear about what’s going on in their lives and what advice I can give them spanning an array of personal to educational issues. 

 The other downside of summer is the TV reruns.  I love Modern Family, The Middle, The Office, and Parks & Rec just to name a few.  This void encourages networks to create some of the most boring shows to fill the TV time slot, such as Ice Skating with the Stars.  Thankfully, the Miami Heat made it to the NBA championship, so I have that and Atlanta Braves baseball games to watch for a while. 

Don’t get me wrong…I love the summertime.  I began mine by attending my sister’s college graduation.  I am so proud of her making the Dean’s List and graduating with a higher GPA than I had.  Yet sitting in the ceremony and being a college administrator myself, I couldn’t help but analyze every aspect of it.  I thought to myself, “Why are so many students texting or playing with their phones during graduation, why is this speaker so boring, and will the graduates even remember what he is saying two years or even 10 minutes from now?”  Overall, it was a joyous graduation as many of them are. 

My most recent summer adventure was family vacation at the happiest place on Earth; Disney World.  This was truly a great experience filled with exciting rides, shows, swimming and fun.  As I boarded Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom, I realize this is the reason I go to work every day, aside from paying bills of course; I work to vacation.  There is so much to do at Disney World and we just couldn’t do it all in 3-4 days.  Yet, for those readers who haven’t gone, I suggest Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood studios, and Typhoon Lagoon as some must see attractions.  Of course, for you Harry Potter fans, you will need to hit up Universal Studios. 

Well,  sadly my summer will be cut short because on July 3rd, it’s back to work, as eighty students will arrive to begin the UT LEAD Summer Institute.  This is always a fun group of students and the highlight of my job.  After five weeks of summer fun with the UTLSI students, then it’s time for fall: 4,200 new freshmen, new TV shows, and my favorite…football time in Tennessee!  Summer break is short, so enjoy every minute of it.

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Monday, May 16th, 2011

Vacation and Graduation…or…Graduation and Vacation!

This week’s guest blogger: Sara Keller- Admissions Counselor

Well, it’s definitely starting to look a lot like summer outside! The trees are turning green, the flowers are in bloom, the air conditioner is on full blast and leather seats are a nightmare in my car. I know personally for me this is also the time of the year when it hits me what the biggest  downfall of becoming an adult is—no summer break. I remember all my days as a student this was the time of the year when I would be finishing classes and running out of the school wide open planning my summer adventures. Although I may not get three whole months off now for the summer,  having vacations are still on the radar and I actually just got home from one this week.  Sunday, I returned from my first trip to the Bahamas.   It was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend anyone to go.  For me,  it was the perfect kind of vacation- cruise ship, 5 great girlfriends and no cell phone or Internet for 4 days. Perfect.

Once back on campus,  it was exciting to see all the commencement ceremonies that were starting to take place.   This week has been packed full with 14 different college ceremonies starting with The College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and ending this Saturday with The College of Veterinary Medicine.  It is such an amazing milestone in any persons life to graduate from college and to finally see all your hard work leading up to this very moment pay off.  So, to all the graduates of Spring ’11, congratulations and I leave you with my  favorite graduation quote:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
—Dr. Seuss

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Monday, May 9th, 2011

Stormy East TN Weather and Campus Damage

This week’s guest blogger: Natalie Knauth- Admissions Counselor

Hi from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions! We recently had some pretty bad storms in Knoxville! On Monday, April 25th,  we had a storm pop up in the evening on campus and it did quite a bit of damage with high winds and rain. I had already made it back home for the evening when the storm arrived. However, some of my co-workers were still on campus and took pictures of the damage. Thanks to my friends for letting me use their pictures for the blog!

 Below is the view from Humanities Plaza. This usually is an open area with places to sit and a sidewalk. As you can imagine it took quite a while to get all the trees cleaned up in this area. 

 This next  picture shows a roof that had blown off one of the buildings on the Ag Campus.


So many trees looked like a giant has just pushed them over. 


We run UT’s Campus Visit Program from our Visitors’ Center on campus. If you ever want to come out with your family and tour campus we have tours Monday – Friday starting from the VC. You can visit our website to register for a campus tour. We also offer a few Saturday tours, that start from Circle Park on campus.

Your visit to campus will include an information session with an Admissions Counselor and a campus tour led by a UT student. There will be a bus portion of the tour and you will also do a lot of walking so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. I always encourage students to actually go and visit all of the different universities they are interested in attending. You will get such a great perspective of what an actual college day would be like if you attend UT by coming for a campus tour. We would love to see you on campus sometime soon!

Ok, let me get back to the damage done by the storm. When we arrived at work the morning after the storm, our Visitor’s Center had no power and a huge tree had fallen on the building. Good news folks…the room that was hit was only a storage room in the building so we were still up and running!


 This is what the same tree looked like from inside the Visitor’s Center: 


 Our Facilities Services Staff have been working hard to get campus cleaned up. We are so blessed that no one was injured and we only had fallen trees and damaged buildings to worry about. If you or your family members were affected by the storms, I hope they are doing well now. Stay safe out there!

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Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Sundown in the City and the Vol Navy–2 Knoxville Traditions

This week’s guest blogger: Kelly Bryan – Assistant Director of Admissions

The absolute best part about Knoxville is there is always something to do, especially when the weather starts warming up.  So as I sit and make out my plans for the weekend, my options are wide open.  Tonight I have decided to head downtown to Sundown in the City in Market Square.  Market Square, located in the center of Downtown Knoxville, is closed off to traffic and contains a variety of restaurants, cafes, bistros, and shops.  There are a lot of seasonal activities that take place there such as Ice Skating on the Square, Christmas in the City, and two of my favorites- the Farmer’s Market and Sundown in the City.  At the Farmer’s Market vendors, set up booths selling all kinds of products varying from baked goods, salsas, coffee, and crafts to skirts, cabinets, all kinds of things!  Everything sold is either grown or made by the vendor.  The last time I went I got some extra hot salsa for my friend Jarod who claimed that no salsa was hot enough for him.  The vendor told me normal salsa had one to two chili peppers and the extra hot had ten per jar.  The salsa made his eyes water so I think it had to be pretty hot!  I also picked up some homemade dog biscuits for my dog Baxter in peanut butter and maple flavor.  He was one happy dog when I came home with those.  I have also picked up produce and cooked it for dinner from the Farmer’s Market, and feel good that I am contributing to a local business.

Tonight the Sundown in the City performer is Randy Houser and JC and the Dirty Smokers.  Both are country artists with Randy Houser being a mix between cutting edge and classic country.  JC and The Dirty Smokers often to covers of Johnny Cash, so it will make for quite a few sing along songs.  At Sundown you can pick up dinner from a vendor right there in Market Square or you can dine before hand at one of the many restaurants.  I often will meet friends for dinner on the patio if the weather is nice and sunny and enjoy my meal and a concert right there for dinner entertainment. 

Ok..on to more of the glorious week-end!    On Saturday morning I am making a bunny cake with my mom.  One of our family Easter traditions is to make a cake shaped like a bunny, cover it with white frosting and decorate it to look like a bunny with ears and candy decorations. 

When that’s done, I’ll get out my lake gear and get excited for the first day out on the lake of 2011!   East TN has many lakes and rivers that intertwine through the hills around Knoxville.  In fact, the Tennessee River forms Fort Loudon Lake that defines one of the campus boundaries.  Our football stadium, Neyland Stadium, is one of only two stadiums that back up to a river.  Being so close to the river allows us to host the Vol Navy on football home game days.  Basically instead of driving to campus for the games, quite a few fans will boat to the games.  They arrive as early as days before the football game, tie up their boats and cookout, play Rocky Top as loud as they can, or watch the other ball games going on that weekend on satellite TV’s on the boats. 

So I hope all of you get to enjoy a sunny day in East Tennessee whether it be catching the concert downtown, or letting the breeze catch you boating down the Tennessee River.  I hope you have a great weekend and to see you soon in Vol Country!

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Thursday, April 7th, 2011

International Student Recruitment

This week’s guest blogger: Dr. Tom Broadhead-UT Admissions Director of Undergraduate Academic Achievement

Last month, I had one of those “opportunities of a lifetime” to travel to a different part of the world on behalf of UT.  EducationUSA, a division of the US State Department, organized a tour of southern Asia for representatives of 11 US public and private universities.  Our goal was to share highlights and information about our schools with some of the best high school students in capital cities of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  Prepping for the trip involved renewing my long-expired passport and shipping recruitment brochures to the EducationUSA offices in those cities.  No significant health advisories there, so all I needed was a typhoid vaccination.

Flying out of Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson airport to Chicago was just the small leg on my trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In Chicago, I transferred to Etihad Airways (the official airline of the United Arab Emirates) for a 14 hour, non-stop flight to Abu Dhabi (capital of the UAE).  The great circle route carried us over much of eastern Canada, the UK, Poland, and Iraq.  Arriving at night, the next transfer was to an Etihad flight to Dhaka, arriving at 4:00am. I was met there by an EducationUSA representative, who took me to the hotel for a super-early check-in.

First Stop: Bangladesh

Students at the Dhaka fairBangladesh is a country of about 160 million people, and Dhaka has about 13 million in the metro area.  Our four-day visit there included briefings on the political and educational climate and college fairs, which attracted overall nearly 2,000 prospective students.  There is a huge interest in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the US, and UT was one of three major public research universities on the tour.

Ambassador MoriartyAmbassador James Moriarty is a strong proponent of US higher education opportunities for international students, and he visited the fair, held a press conference, and hosted our group together with local secondary and postsecondary education leaders at the ambassador’s residence.

Walking at night in DhakaBeing 10 hours ahead of Knoxville-daylight-time (KDT) required a little adjusting, and one morning I woke at 3:00, switched on the TV, and learned much more than I ever knew about the sport of cricket.

Market in DhakaThe initial round of matches was in progress during our visit, and a walk around town at night found a group of guys watching replays on a small TV.  At streetside markets, stalls offered Bangladesh team jerseys.


I Think I’m Goin’ to Kathmandu…

Our next stop was Kathmandu, Nepal, where the local time is only 15 minutes earlier than in Dhaka (9 hours and 45 minutes ahead of KDT).  We were met at the Kathmandu airport by our EducationUSA hosts and taken on a scenic drive through many winding streets to our hotel – the Yak and Yeti.  It is a beautiful facility, but unfortunately, no sign of either yaks or yetis.

Fulbright office in NepalOur first visit was to the EducationUSA office, where the library and computer facilities are available for prospective students to learn more about US universities and submit their applications.

Lincoln School in NepalIn addition to a large college fair, with several hundred prospective students, we had a visit to the Lincoln School, which offers an American academic curriculum.  Students from other international schools were bused to Lincoln, where we met them in classrooms and an outdoor fair.

We had a couple of hours for sightseeing, and had two excellent student guides.  The Durbar Square area includes temples and shrines that date back to the 16th century.

The weather in Kathmandu had been a little overcast, but began to clear the day we left. On the flight we had a spectacular view along the Himalayas as we headed west to Delhi, India.

The Himalayas from the planeThe Delhi airport has to be one of the most beautiful modern airports in the world, but we were just there to change planes for our flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The time zone in India is another 15 minutes earlier than that of Nepal, as is the time in Sri Lanka, so it was time to make another incremental wristwatch change.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

We arrived in Colombo about 10:30 at night, and made it to the hotel around midnight.  The next morning, we were up early for a briefing and visits with students and some parents at the EducationUSA office. Then, it was back to the hotel for lunch and set up for the afternoon’s college fair, which was attended by about 600 prospective students.

That night, it was “dinner on your own,” so four of us took a cab to a recommended local-cuisine restaurant.

On the way, we stopped at a local temple and shrine complex and got to feed the guardian elephant.

No time to rest—my departing flight left at 4:30 the next morning, and my ride to the Colombo airport was at 12:30am. After a more-than-full day, staying awake that night was one of the biggest challenges of my trip (not bad, when you think about it).  Even at 3:00 in the morning, there was plenty of activity at the Colombo airport, including games to win cricket merchandise.

The flight back to Abu Dhabi was mostly spent sleeping, but I did get to see the low-angle morning light as we flew over the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It was beautiful, but I just didn’t have the energy to get my camera out of the overhead. Seeing the city during the day, as we approached, was spectacular, and the airport was another modern marvel. Unfortunately, my photo didn’t capture the architecturally interesting curved control tower.

Then, it was a 14 hour flight back to Chicago, accompanied on the plane by many families with small children.  The occasional “screaming baby chorus” was adequately muffled by my headset for watching movies.  On the brief flight to Knoxville, I sat next to a UT graduate.

In Sum…

The greatest parts of my trip: (1) meeting many great students, who I hope will enroll at UT, (2) the incredibly well-organized programs conducted by the EducationUSA staffs in each country, (3) the food—warning that the breakfast buffets at the hotels are marvelous and so interesting that you have to drag yourself away, and (4) the experience of visiting other countries and experiencing, even in a brief, small way, their cultures.

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