Years ago, when I was teaching at several New Jersey colleges and universities, a few of my students randomly confided in me how they felt purposefully ripped off by their Newark college admission offices.  They believed they were tricked into studying in Newark instead of New York City.

I know the difference between “Newark” and “New York” may be striking to most Americans, but imagine if you’re a foreign student living in, say, Egypt, and your dream is to study in New York in the USA even though your first language is not English and your English reading skills are not perfect.

You are sent an advertising brochure from a college in the USA that talks about New York and what’s in New York and how much you will enjoy New York and you fail to notice the fine print that the school is actually located in “Newark” and not “New York”– Newark is only 10 miles from New York City; but the difference in timbre and temperament is one of wholly opposites — so you apply to the school and get sponsored for a student visa and you bet your life on finding a new future in what you think is going to be New York City in America.

Then reality hits as you land at Newark airport and those around you begin to clue you in that you’ve gone all in on Newark, New Jersey and not New York City, New York.  You are crushed.  You are ashamed.  You are disappointed.  You are irretrievably stuck.  Your student visa is tied to your school in Newark.

You can’t easily drop Newark and enroll in a New York City school without first returning to your home country and re-doing all your paperwork. So, you stay. You try to do the best you can in a place you never wanted to study or live.

You get excellent grades, but you never come to love the Newark deception and you never hope to ever respect the school that tricked you into matriculating by betting on your poor English and woeful geography skills; and so you make do, you quietly confide your hurt to people you trust, but the open admission that you were taken for a ride by the very school you are currently attending is too much of a shame to publicly confess without the fear of being branded stupid and incompetent by those around you who knew better than you and who betrayed your trust and counted on conning you out of your tuition money and your faithful adherence to building a better future for you and your family.

3 Comments