More Options, Liberal Arts Focus Draws International Students to US Universities
After twelve years of boasting the highest number of international students of any university in the US, the University of Southern California has finally ceded that title to New York University, according to a study by the Institute of International Education. Across the board, international students are attending US universities in record numbers.
According to the study, the total number of international students in the US increased by 8%, hitting a record high of 886,052.
Other colleges that are home to a large international population include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Columbia University, UCLA, Purdue University in Indiana, Northeastern University in Boston, and Arizona State University.
While the largest numbers of international students arrive from China and India, respectively, an increasing number of students from the UK are choosing to attend US universities as well. A recent article in the Telegraph attributed the trend to two major factors: an increase in UK tuition levels and the American liberal arts curriculum, which is considered more comprehensive than the British system.
Outside of rising tuitions elsewhere, and the relative strength of liberal arts studies, what other factors are driving international applicants to American institutions in record numbers?
For one, admissions committees at most US universities offer “holistic reviews” of applications, or an emphasis on the applicant as a whole person and not just his or her academic achievements. This approach allows students who may struggle academically to compensate with strong contributions outside the classroom. In contrast, the “gao kao”, or “high test,” in China is nearly twice as long as the SAT, and is the only factor that determines admission to first, second, and third-tier Chinese universities.
Additionally, the sheer number of colleges and universities in the US attract a high number of international applicants. With most estimates putting the number of US 2- and 4-year colleges and universities between 4,000 and 5,000, international students have plenty of options to choose from, including a number of diverse elite institutions.
For international students, attending a college or university in the United States involves more than physically moving and learning to adjust to a new culture—which is difficult enough! There are also many factors to take into consideration during the application process. With applicant pools growing and admission rates shrinking, competition for international student spots in U.S. colleges and universities is increasing.
Conducting sufficient research is just as important, if not more so for international applicants, as it is for applicants applying in their home countries. In addition to determining whether any language proficiency tests are required with their applications, students should examine schools’ financial aid and housing policies with regard to international students.
Do you have questions about navigating the US college admissions process as an international applicant? Check out our International Guide for help!