The devil#039;s in the details

by Beacon Staff • March 22, 2006

As incoming freshmen, all of us knew about these programs.,"So whatever your goals, Emerson College has the right program to complement your professional plans," says Emerson's External Programs Web site, advertising the college's two most popular programs at Castle Well in the Netherlands and Los Angeles.

As incoming freshmen, all of us knew about these programs. They were detailed in our prospective student brochures, the undergraduate catalogue, the school's Web site and the programs' own brochures.

But only the Web site mentions one important detail.

If you don't have a passport from the United States or a European Union country, you can't go to the Castle. Sorry, tough luck.

There is a valid reason: in the last few years, the Netherlands changed the application process for getting an MVV short-term stay visa, which is required in order to live in the country for more than three months. A semester at the Castle lasts just about three-and-a-half months.

American students don't even need a MVV. Instead, they are able to slip by the red tape due to an agreement between the U.S. and Dutch governments.

However, other students, myself included, do need this visa and must apply for it if we wish to study in the program.

In all fairness, as soon as I was accepted to the Castle program, the college informed me of this and put a disclaimer in bold: "Emerson College cannot be held accountable for any denial of your visa to enter the Netherlands."

If I did apply for a visa, however, I would be denied on the grounds that Emerson isn't an accredited institution in the Netherlands.

I called up the responsible government faction in the Netherlands (Immigration and Naturalization Services) and it couldn't even find Emerson College on its list of universities.

While I agree there isn't much the college can do about it and that it takes a long time, ranging from months to years, to change government policies, especially those of a different country, I am upset that Emerson fails to mention in most of its advertising that the Castle Well program is off-limits to some non-American and non-Europeans.

The brochure states, "Program Open To: Undergraduate students only."

That's a lie.

I want to be a travel writer.

I've lived in five different countries so far in my life. I speak four languages and I can truly see myself traveling the world.

Part of the reason I applied to Emerson was for the Castle program. It encourages students and sets the platform for travel in addition to offering a course on travel writing.

The opportunity seemed like the right program for me, at least until I actually tried applying for it.

This is a communications college that encourages its students to be ethical. The administration here should start by practicing those ethics in its advertising.

The college should inform international students that we don't have the same privileges at Emerson that Americans and some Europeans do. It's brutal, but it's the truth.