Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Expert Q&A: Stene Verhulst of Emporia State University

We get a lot of good questions from readers about going to school in the U.S. and Canada. This month we posed three of those questions to Stene Verhulst, the director of international recruitment at Emporia State University in Kansas. Verhulst, who also serves as Emporia State’s head of international scholarships, has traveled to over 60 countries since earning his master’s in political science from the University of Wyoming. WES Student Advisor talked to him about working on a visa, changing majors, financial aid and more.

Alessandra, of Venezuela, asks, “How can I work with a student visa? What about working off-campus?”

Verhulst: As a university we understand how important work experience is, and we have great resources to help you get plugged in. Experiences on- and off-campus are open to all. On-campus employment is really straightforward, so once you find a job you may be interested in contacting your international office for advice. On the other hand, off-campus employment requires a little more collaboration between your academic program, your international office, and your place of work. Typically, for an off-campus opening, an international student on an F-1 visa will need to provide us with evidence that this experience is part of their degree-seeking plan. For example, if your clinical psychology program requires an off-campus internship, we will work with you to authorize the opportunity. In summary, all of us will encourage you to get involved within your field of study – it’s just a matter of each university’s interpretation and/or willingness to authorize off-campus employment.

Yewande, of Nigeria, asks, “What are the chances I can change my major for graduate study after being admitted and submitting requirements for a particular major?”

Verhulst: Changing majors is always a possibility, but almost without exception this will require additional time, energy, and resources on your behalf. At the graduate level each department is looking for specific credentials, so your admission into one program does not automatically qualify you for admission into another. If you are seeking a change you will need to contact the chair/dean of that department as soon as possible and learn their requirements so you can begin completing all the necessary steps. Typically, all you need to address are department-specific requisites; some examples include meeting standardized test requirements, providing new letters of recommendation, and writing a new statement of purpose.

Ketaki, of India, asks, “What are international students’ chances of receiving financial aid or assistance?”

Verhulst: There are so many factors that go into admission and aid that it is hard to address this in brief. The good news is that financial assistance can be found in many places on our campuses. In my interactions with students, I really encourage them to be as creative as possible when searching for additional resources and to think about combining different sources of funding to bring down their total cost. Just because you don’t receive one scholarship doesn’t mean you won’t be eligible for another one. For example, we have many undergraduate students that receive any combination of the following: merit scholarships, talent-based scholarships, diversity-based scholarships, involvement scholarships, etc. Students have to be creative and use all of their skills to make education in the USA an affordable reality. Most importantly, these students were not afraid to ask difficult questions, and they used several points of contact at the university to garner the resources they needed.
Thanks to Stene Verhulst and all the students who submit their admission questions to WES Student Advisor. Want to have your question answered by an admissions expert? Attend one of our webinars or send an email to

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