Located in the outskirts of Athens, just 10 km from the centre of the Greek capital, The American College of Greece (ACG) is the oldest and largest American-accredited College in Europe and the largest private college in Greece. An independent, not for profit, non-sectarian co-educational academic institution, ACG was founded 145 years ago in Ottoman Asia Minor by idealistic American educational pioneers. It relocated to Athens in 1922.
ACG is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), the organization that accredits all universities in the New England region of the United States, including famous institutions like Harvard, Yale, Brown, MIT, Boston University and many more. Its undergraduate degrees are also validated by the Open University of the United Kingdom, affording its graduates dual US-UK credentials upon completion of their studies.
ACG also offers graduate studies in the liberal arts and business. The Alba Graduate Business School of The American College of Greece is arguably the finest of its kind in all of South-eastern Europe.
ACG has been a pioneer among universities in Greece, public and private. Haris Daskalothanassis, ACG's Executive Director of Outreach and Retention, explains, "To begin with, ACG has always been and continues to be a pioneer in education in Greece. Decades ago, we were the first institution to introduce computer science and marketing studies in Greece and now recently, we were the first or among the first to offer university-level studies in Cybersecurity and Networks, International Tourism and Hospitality, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Sports Management, Entrepreneurship and more."
International Outlook, Multiple Credentials
Being an institution that follows the American model of higher education, ACG is no different to the best US-based American colleges and universities. But it also blends important elements of the British system into its academic programs, offering the best of both worlds.
"An institution that follows the American model of higher education, ACG is no different to the best us-based American colleges and universities"
"A student graduating from ACG receives a bachelor's degree which is identical to a degree received in the United States. In addition, he or she receives a validated bachelor's degree from the Open University of the United Kingdom," explains Mr. Daskalothanassis. "All courses are delivered in English which allows the international students to blend in easily and it also allows us to attract students from all over the world. To top it all off, ACG owns the best university campus in Greece, by far - arguably it is one of the best university campuses in continental Europe. Studying at ACG differs from studying in traditional Greek or European public universities in several respects. At ACG, we see education as intimately connected to the economy and the society it serves. To us, higher education is not just an intellectual exercise - it is a vital means for the betterment of the world around us. We try to instil values as well as real-world experience in our students so that they are more aware of the challenges they will face after graduation and better prepared to meet them."
It is no accident, Mr. Daskalothanassis notes, that some of the best universities in the world, in the U.S. and Europe are admitting ACG graduates for post-graduate studies.
ACG offers 34 undergraduate level programs of study in Business, the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Fine and Performing Arts, as well as 50 minors. It also offers a very demanding and highly competitive joint (2+2) engineering program with Clarkson University in New York State that offers top-level engineering studies at a fraction of the actual cost of study at a university in the United States.
ACG, in the best tradition of American higher education is known for its student-centric approach where all its efforts are always undertaken with the interests of the students in mind.
The vast majority of the faculty hold degrees from some of the best universities in the English-speaking world and are experienced in dealing with students from diverse cultures.
ACG ensures that international students, in particular, are attended to by a dedicated staff of highly trained professionals who are there for them throughout their studies, helping them adjust to life away from home, assisting with immigration matters, even escorting them to doctors if they fall ill.
Charting Future Paths for Young International Learners
With established partnerships and exchange agreements with over 61 colleges in North and South America, Western Europe, Asia, Australia and North Africa, The American College of Greece encourages and helps its students to study abroad while paying tuition at ACG which is usually much lower that at their study abroad destination.
The previous year witnessed over one thousand international students (in a total undergraduate population of about 3,500) studying on the ACG campus, either as degree-seekers, or as study abroad students, or as participants in special programs with cooperating international universities on the ACG campus.
All international students at ACG have access to the school's excellent Career Office where they get free, individualized career counselling and can search for apprenticeships and/or internships. They also have access to two immense international data bases that list internship, apprenticeship and career opportunities around the globe, as well as to individualize Career Office training on the techniques and what steps to take in order to have a successful search. The annual Career Forum at ACG attracts over 100 major companies, Greek and international.
Another asset for newly-minted ACG graduates is the college's 50,000-strong alumni base that includes company CEOs, government ministers, researchers, artists and successful professionals in almost all walks of life, not only in Greece but also in Europe, the United States and, increasingly, Asia.
For an international student, adjusting to life in Greece is rather easy. Aside from its spectacular beauty and forgiving weather, Greece is a very hospitable and safe country, where tradition and family values are treasured. It is also an open, democratic society and the Greek people are extroverted and always interested in getting to know people from other cultures.
What goes for Greece goes for ACG of course - and to an even higher degree. "We strongly encourage parents of international students to visit at least once, so they can see for themselves that their children are in a safe place, doing meaningful work and becoming good citizens of the world. The American system of education is student-friendly and supportive and the fact that my colleagues go out of their way to offer proper orientation and support to international students is the reason why a vast majority of students regardless of their origin, religion, gender, or native language feel almost immediately at home here," said Mr. Daskalothanassis.
He added, "I would say to young students that efforts never go to waste and that excellence begets excellence. If a student of ours put in the effort, The American College of Greece will back him or her in all sorts of ways, and they will see opportunities opening in their lives that they do not even imagine exist now."
Haris Daskalothanassis, Executive Director of Outreach and Retention, The American College of Greece
Harilaos (Haris) Daskalothanassis is Executive Director of Outreach and Retention. His duties involve, among other things, introducing ACG to potential students from around the world, and ensuring that ACG students who face di?culties are able to get the required help within the college and progress smoothly toward graduation. Mr. Daskalothanassis joined The American College of Greece in 2003 following a 14-year career as a reporter and editor in New York City. He holds a BA in History and Economics from Queens College of the City University of New York.