The number of international students attending U.S. colleges has increased significantly year over year for the last several decades. According to the Institute of International Education, the number of international students in the U.S. has grown from 500,000 to over a million in 10 years. At the same time, the number of U.S. students studying overseas has only increased by thirty percent.
When we look at the country of origin for international students, thirty percent of these students come from China while sixteen percent originate from India. In fact, the top ten countries constitute 70% of the international students. International students study a variety of majors, but some of the most popular are Engineering and Business Management.
Why the U.S.?
There are several reasons international students want to study in the U.S. Like U.S. students who want to study abroad, exploring a new place and being immersed in another culture can be very rewarding.
Luckily for them, the U.S. lives up to its “melting pot” metaphor. With several diverse regional cultures, international students can experience wildly different faces of the U.S. – from the Deep South to the Hispanic influenced Southwest to the modest Midwest. There are a lot of options for international students looking to learn more about a specific American subculture.
International students also choose U.S. educations to open up their career options. In many countries, students take a national exam which will essentially dictate the type of career they can study. If a student doesn’t perform well, it can drastically limit the type of programs they can go into and will limit their future options.
With businesses becoming increasing global in nature, it also pays for international students to have a definitive grasp on the English language as well as American culture. Many of these students will return to their home-countries to high-paid positions where they negotiate business deals with representatives from the U.S.
Finally, the U.S. has a high quality higher education system. Students know that a degree from a U.S. institution can open many career related doors – especially when studying STEM-related majors.
Why are U.S. colleges going out of their way to court international students? In one word: economics.
International students pay the full out of state tuition to attend colleges and do not qualify for any kind of financial aid. On top of this, many colleges have started collecting added fees specifically for international students. These fees can run up to several thousand dollars per year.
According to the Institute of International Education, foreign students add approximately $21 billion to the national economy each year. As government aid to schools continues to decline, they must find new sources of revenue to continue their programs. For this reason, international students have become an important part of an institution’s budgeting process.
Good for U.S. Students?
Not only are international students good for the universities and economy, they are also an important part of your student’s education experience.
A major part of attending college involves being exposed to new ideas and people from different cultures. Your student can get to know other students from all over the country and the world without ever leaving campus!
Getting to know and learn from students from different backgrounds and cultures is especially important in an economy that is becoming increasingly global. Many students, especially those studying business and science, will work with and for diverse companies that are international in scope.
Will the trend continue?
International students, U.S. students, and U.S. colleges have all benefited from the increased amount of students from other countries willing to spend their education dollars in America.
The trend is likely to continue for now, but today’s political climate will no doubt cause some international students to question whether attending college in the U.S. is a viable option. For example, the recent travel ban that was put into place by President Trump affected over 15,000 international college students studying in the U.S. at nearly 600 different colleges and universities.
For the sake of the economy and college diversity, let’s hope the U.S. remains an attractive option for higher education.
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