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Soka University of America

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Education, Performing Arts Centers, Universities

Mission: The mission of Soka University of America is to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.

Results: Soka University will be celebrating the 17th anniversary of its Aliso Viejo campus in 2018 and has already been ranked in the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges in the Nation by US News and World Report's "Best Colleges 2018."

Target demographics: 60% US students, 40% internation

Direct beneficiaries per year: 450 students

Geographic areas served: Four year liberal arts college and graduate school

Programs: Soka University is a private, four-year liberal arts college and graduate school in Aliso Viejo, CA. The university is ranked in the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the nation by US News and World Report's "Best Colleges 2018." Soka University offers an 8:1 student/faculty ratio and study abroad for every undergraduate student. Founded upon the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life, SUA is open to top students of all nationalities and beliefs. About 60% of Soka University's students come from the US and 40% have come from more than 45 other countries. Admitted students whose annual family income is $60,000 or less may be eligible for Soka Opportunity Scholarships which cover full tuition. Additional scholarship opportunities are available for higher income levels.

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a proud volunteer at Soka University of America (SUA) for the last 10 years, co-chairing the gala committee for the last 8 where we raised over $6.1 million for scholarships since inception 10 years ago. From the first time I read about SUA, I was drawn to it's mission, i.e. to educate young men and women around the world who want to lead a contributive life. I do not know of any other university that has a similar reason of teaching the younger generation about humanistic principles along with academic rigor. As I got to know SUA I also came to appreciate its unique approach to teaching in small learning clusters where student to faculty ratio is 8 to 1. Imagine having the undivided attention of one teacher amongst 8 of you and your classmates thoughout your four years in college! The objective of such approach is to encourage every student to participate in dialogue with their teachers and colleagues, a more difficult undertaking in more traditional universities where you may be one in hundreds holding class in a large lecture hall. The more personalized approach definitely bodes well for learning in almost all instances. In addition, opportunities to stretch and grow both as scholars and people are numerous and open to all students. Such activities include a semester of study abroad in the country where the student is learning it's language, work side by side by professionals at the UN, assist nonprofits dealing with Aids in Africa, learn from renowned global thought leaders on various subjects that impact us here and the rest of the world. These are just a few examples of the quality of education one can get from SUA. The US News & World Report clearly agrees in its rankings of SUA in "Best Colleges 2014". SUA which was founded in 2001, tied for 41st place as Best National Liberal Arts College along wih 2 other colleges, one founded in 1795 and the other in 1837. Other awards include #1 in faculty resources and financial resources, #5 Best Value among National Liberal Arts Colleges (behind Amherst, Williams, Pomona, and Wellesley), #1 in proportion of international students, and #5 in etchnic diversity among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Kristian F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Soka University of America is an outstanding school with world-renowned faculty, small class-sizes, modern facilities, and extraordinary financial aid. Soka University is only 16 years old but has rapidly climbed the ranks of national college rankings and is now among the Top 40 Liberal Arts Colleges in the US. SUA's large endowment allows for large research grants available to both students and faculty as well as great research facilities, such as the Ikeda Library. SUA with its small class-sizes, small faculty-student ratio, faculty tenures, great research facilities, and research grants is an academic heaven for most students.

Review from Guidestar

Mark C.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am currently a 2nd year student who is studying at this wonderful institution. It was a blessing to have found SUA through Google which is pretty extraordinary; a 15 year-old institution that had already made the first page when you typed and searched for a small liberal-arts campus in the United States of America. The diversity that SUA radiates is also a great strength this campus has to offer, students of different backgrounds all converge here where each has the ability to learn a great deal about others. The education I received has also been meaningful, I am able to understand how each topic intersects with the other even though they may be vastly different at first glance. I would like to think that this campus is bridging the gap between the arts and sciences; each complements the other and one cannot be studied without understanding an overall view of things.

The school also offers many programs for students to unwind after their academics. These include our amazing sports complex and the various clubs and events the Student Affairs sets up for us. Over at SUA, there is nothing short of lively when describing this campus. I would whole heartedly recommend others to come and experience this campus at least once.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SUA is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Of course it has its problems, issues, etc but that is because it's a university. However, I have never felt safe the way i feel at Soka, and I have never felt loved the way I do here. The community that Soka houses is a special and unique one that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 4

I am currently a first-year student at SUA and so far, I love it! The student body is diverse, and as a third-culture kid, I really fit in here. The other students are just as passionate as I am about various topics, from poetry to social justice. The academics are challenging, and most students are dedicated to their classes, so the learning environment is really productive. SUA is a good fit for students who are self-motivated and who want to pursue a variety of topics. Also, although it seems superficial, we have really nice residence halls and other facilities; we get private bathrooms, free laundry, free printing, and pretty good food.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love Soka so much!!! First of all, students here are awesome. Based on the mission statement " to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contribute life", Every single student tries to figure out what their missions are and how they are able to achieve it. I enjoy having time with them and improving myself. I also like the campus here. I can go to gym every day for a routine and can go to eat my favorite food in cafeteria. Since the campus is surrounded by beautiful forests, I can get relaxed all the time. The environment that surrounds me is perfect. If you want to be a real global citizen, Soka is going to be the best place for you!!!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Overall, I really appreciate being here as a student.
I was born to a bilingual family and have grown up in more than two different cultures. Soka is the place where I can cultivate my international background more and obtain a lot of new viewpoints from Soka's students who are from more than 40 countries. My future dream is to support people throughout the world going beyond the two countries. To achieve the goal, I have known many more perspectives and values in the world by communicating with people worldwide. Acquiring the knowledge and various perspectives, I believe I will be able to contribute to solving various problems caused by a cultural gap. I came here to seek liberal arts education at Soka University of America, where students with multifarious values all over the world gather. Through interacting each student at SUA, I sometimes face troubles caused by differences in ways of thinking, customs, and culture; however, I would like treasure each encounter so that I can train myself to find the causes and solutions to each trouble.
Through liberal arts, I receive diverse viewpoints through learning a latitudinous culture, obtain a skill to see from various viewpoints and acquire ability in telling and convincing others of my values. SUA is a boarding university, where I am in international surrounding at all hours. As I not only take lessons together but stay with students across the globe, I see parts of the country’s culture or custom. By recognizing and receiving these, I believe based materials enable me to more assimilate values, custom, culture, lifestyle, and religion in other countries are made.

Another great point of Soka is financial aids. Thanks to a number of donors, our students can study without considering each of our financial issues, Although I am personally not so suffering from my family financial issue, I have heard from some of my friends that they couldn't come here without their financial aids. Almost every student at Soka can receive scholarship more or less, which is so great. Our university president, Danny Habuki, says that he doesn't want students at Soka to worry about money. So the cafeteria at Soka is all you can eat, buffet style, we can print out as much as we want, all of the students basically live in the same residential halls, facility service is always available for free... SUA is designed not to pay extra money. Everything is including the tuition so that students here don't need to care about the cost. Even though I have been here only for a year, I am already glad to come here.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Overall I am grateful to have the opportunity to come to soka. I am a first generation immigrant and child of working class parents who lived paycheck to paycheck. I often wondered if I would be able to afford college, but when I got accepted to soka I was offered a financial aid package offered to all students with a family income lower than $70k, which paid for my entire tuition fees. Soka is so generous and the resources available on this campus are among the best in the country. We have such easy access to all of our professors, as our class size exceed no more than 15 students. We also have a mandatory (unless you are undocumented or have a disability/extenuating circumstances) study abroad policy in which students learn a language for 2 years and then go abroad to a country that speaks that language. This facilitates linguistic and cultural immersion that ultimately intends to make us more globally aware and social justice-oriented. However, as an activist and Trans woman of color, despite being in a liberal arts campus, I found that many students were not aware of how deeply entrenched social injustice is in our daily life. Many students would speak on joining the U.N. and going to Africa to help end poverty and world hunger, but wouldnt sign a petition to allow undocumented students to enroll. They would talk about ikeda-sensei and the importance of education, but refuse to make this campus a sanctuary campus so that undocumented immigrants could feel safe. I was very disappointed to receive so much backlash for causes I would initiate, such as gender neutral bathrooms, from a school that proclaims to be liberal. If you are looking to grow in your activism, I would suggest elsewhere with a stronger community of domestic/working class/ students of color who are devoted to liberation and fighting oppression. Any attempt to call out BS would be shut down because we should be grateful for being here, or because we need to be nice to each other and have "dialogue," which basically came down to a lot of tone policing and microaggressions. It was difficult to get people to care about stuff that didnt affect them directly.

Review from Guidestar

Yuye Z.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a current 4th-year student at Soka and I absolutely appreciate the opportunity to study here. We have beautiful campus, small student body and nice staff. What's more the school is really generous in terms of financial aid. Students are taken really good care of and the school tries it best to provide the best experience possible for us.

Client Served

Rating: 4

This school gives you a lot of opportunities like study abroad and meet different people around the world.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 4

The school is very student-oriented; the professors and the staffs in Soka University of America are very willing to teach and help the students with anything they need help with. Everyone is so friendly here and would respect each other. I have changed a lot since I came here. I have become more outgoing and cheerful.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Studying at Soka University has been a truly life-changing experience. Soka University of America is a small (approx. 450 students) liberal arts college founded upon Buddhist principles of pacifism, sanctity of life, and environmental stewardship. Soka's location is on a hill surrounded by a county natural reserve, canyons and a residential community in the sunny South Orange County, California. Even though Soka's campus presents unparalleled architectural mastery and splendid views of nearby canyons, it's biggest strength lies in academics. Soka's progressive and inclusive curriculum has allowed Soka University to rise rapidly (over past 15 years) among thousands of American liberal arts colleges and place itself as one of the TOP 50 Liberal Arts Colleges in the US. Soka University has achieved national recognition due to strong emphasis of its values, such as global citizenship, diversity, financial aid, and rigor. The faculty members become students' mentors; they are acclaimed in their fields and always available to students. Soka University mandates all of its students to study abroad and to join hands-on learning periods. Soka has great modern facilities, and each student has more than 100 square ft. of personal space.

2 Miyuki O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a 2nd year student at Soka, and so far, I really love this school! As an international student, I had a lot of concerns before I came here. However, these concerns disappeared when I met people here. Everyone is so kind and cares us sincerely. Soka is like my 2nd home!!! We have only 450 students here, so we know each other well, and the small class size (usually 10-12 students) is a good environment for learning! Everyone listens to and treats my opinion seriously, which I could not experience when I was in high school. Professors are also wonderful, and they try to connect with students, this attitude makes me easy to ask questions and to talk with them to deepen my understanding of the topic in the class. Also, students can join several club activities. Students, and we enjoy our campus lives at Soka. I will do my best to make these four years valuable!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a currently a second year student at Soka, and I really love this school!! This school has a very small class size, and I think this is the best environment for learning! Each professor knows my name and face, and if I have any questions regarding class materials or my paper, I can just go to my professors’ offices and talk with them. The class is based on discussion, and each student has an equal chance to share opinions! Students also have to learn one foreign language, and I started to learn French since I came here. A third year student has to go to study abroad for one semester, and I am really excited to go to France next year! If you want to experience study abroad, SUA is a great option! I am looking forward to learning more and enjoying next two years here at SUA.

16

Donor

Rating: 5

I can't say enough about SUA, their professors and their staff.

Our niece graduated this year and says she cannot express in words how much SUA has changed her life.

Those amazing changes are evident. Jaw-dropping for me is that she graduated with $1500 in student loans. That's right, $1500.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Soka finds the most promising youth from every corner of the world, brings them together at their incredibly diverse and stunningly beautiful Southern California campus, and then fosters their unique gifts preparing them to truly live contributive lives. It is a most impressive academic institution of higher learning that is changing the world for the better!

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

Soka University is a stellar organization committed to its mission of raising the next generation of leaders committed to making a positive impact throughout the world. I am proud to support them in their important work!

Review from Guidestar

4

Donor

Rating: 5

What could be better than a 15-year-old school making it to the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country according to US News and World Report? Small class sizes; open access to faculty and administrators; and free tuition for families with less than $60K income. Beautiful campus.

We took a friend on a tour there and had lunch in the Bistro (dining hall). During the course of our meal, I introduced our friend to Danny Habuki, the president of the university. Afterward, he asked< "Who was that person?" When I told him that he was the president, he said, "During four years at my college, the only time I saw the president was at graduation."

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Liberal arts education here has helped me look at the world from many different points of view. I have also developed critical and creative thinking and communication skills, which are necessary for any kind of job. In addition, because of the diversity we have here and the small student body, I have met and worked with people of different race, nationality, and culture and learn from each other. I have made friendships beyond boarders. SUA has really helped me become more open-minded, courageous, and kind, which I believe, together with the knowledge I gain here, will help me create value and make positive changes in the world.

Review from Guidestar

1 Akemi A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently a first year student here at Soka and I am absolutely enjoying my new chapter as a college student. I knew Soka would let me learn about myself where other school wouldn't. I want to find what I am truly
passionate about through going to a Liberal Arts school and exploring myself. It has only been 4 months since I moved in and started my class, but what I want to do after I graduate is already molding together and I am excited how much I'm going to grow in the coming 4 years.

Review from Guidestar

Ya Chien C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before I came to Soka University of America, I was a person who is very not confident of myself. I had a hard time reaching out to my classmates and talking to them. I felt very comfortable being alone because I did not have to think about how to interact with other people and how they would judge me based on my actions. But after coming to this wonderful school, I became a totally different person. I feel very confident and like to be around people. I feel the caring and warmth from my classmates and upperclassmen. Whenever anyone on campus has a very tough time in his or her life, people will give him/her support. This school is small, so everyone knows each other well. Everyone is close to each other. Thanks to Soka, I have the opportunity to broaden my view and interact with people from all around the world.

Review from Guidestar

4 Jonathan43

Donor

Rating: 5

My mother was a pioneer woman in the field of chemistry and education. She received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr and in 1944 was the first woman to earn a PhD from Harvard University in field of chemistry. When she died my father and I decided to create a scholarship in her name. The logical choice would have been to endow it at either Harvard or Bryn Mawr. Coinciding with her passing my cousin (my mom’s favorite niece) left a position at Harvard University to teach at Soka University. Soka was a fledgling institution that held great promise. Founded on Buddhist ideals, it began with a great founding faculty, a curriculum that embraced global perspectives, and an ethos of rigorous course work. The scholarship to Soka was one of the best decisions we ever made. The university quickly flourished, received accreditation and began sending its graduates to top tier universities for graduate studies. Today one of my greatest joys is attending Soka University’s graduation and watching my mother’s scholarship recipient cross the stage – always a woman of whom my mother would be proud.

Review from Guidestar