September 20, 2012
According to a June 27, 2012 post by Study in the USA, “in the 2009/2010 academic year the number of international students in the USA rose by 3% to an all-time high of 690,923.” The U.S. continues to be the top choice for international students who want to continue their studies and broaden their experience.
As the former Director of University Placement Services at ELS Language Center (USA) and EDWAM Services Institute and AFME/AMIDEAST (Iran), I helped place thousands of students from around the world at U.S. colleges and universities to pursue undergraduate, graduate and advanced degrees. There are many benefits to studying in the U.S. and here are 8 reasons why international students choose to study in the United States:
1. Academic Excellence
The United States has one of the finest systems of higher education in the world. Its many different institutions offer academic and practical studies in almost any subject, at all levels, and for all types of student. U.S. universities also provide some of the world’s best professional degree programs in Engineering, Business Administration, Communications and Computer Science where students have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest and best minds in their field of study. In addition, U.S. degrees have worldwide recognition for their excellence.
There is some flexibility in undergraduate programs where you are able to find a wide variety of courses to choose from to meet the requirements for the academic degree you are studying. Also, undergraduate programs allow flexibility to transfer to different institutions and switching your major field of study if you have a change of mind. If you know what you want to study, you can complete a “double major,” and cover two academic fields which you complete within the normal four years of study. And, if you’re “undecided,” you have time to make up your mind and pick a major (field of study) as you complete a variety of subjects in the first 1-2 years under the “liberal arts” requirements of the bachelor’s degree.
At the graduate level, you will be able to tailor your coursework to meet your specific academic goals and needs. You can select topics for a graduate thesis or dissertation based on ideas that are important to you and of interest to you and your country.
U.S. institutions also offer flexible entrance dates: Fall, Winter Spring or Summer with wide range of application deadlines (1-8 months before expected date of entry).
3. Experience American College Life & Travel the US
One of the perks of attending a U.S. college or university is the vibrant campus life you’ll be able to experience through a variety of non-academic activities available to help you get involved. You could run for a position in student government, write for the university newspaper, or join one of the many social or academic clubs available on the college/university campus. You could even cheer your university’s teams from football, basketball, baseball, or soccer!
The size of the U.S. with its great diversity in geography and culture offers international students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and see the country during long university summer holidays. The international students offices on U.S. campuses also arrange programs such as holiday trips and host family stays that provide students immersion into American family life and culture.
4. Technology, Research, Teaching and Training
One thing universities in the U.S. pride themselves on is being on the forefront of technology. You can be sure that even if you’re not pursuing studies in the sciences or engineering, you will still have access to the latest technologies available on campus. This exposure will provide you with opportunities to become skilled in using cutting-edge technology to help you with your research, staying connected with other researchers, teachers and experts in your field on a global level.
At the graduate level, students who wish to help finance their education are able to acquire valuable experience through teaching and/or research. This is because many graduate programs at U.S. institutions provide training and teaching opportunities to help students become teaching assistants to undergraduate and/or research assistants on special projects related to their field of study.
5. Internationalization and Global Marketability
Education is a valuable commodity and international students who have earned degrees from U.S. colleges and universities find that they are sought after by employers for their wide range of knowledge and experience. As more U.S. companies seek to have a stronger presence in the global marketplace, they look to hiring individuals whose language skills and education helps them communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures. International companies too look at recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates of U.S. institutions for the same reasons as their U.S. counterparts. Employers value international student job applicants with and those with overseas work experience. International students in the US have the opportunity to gain work experience during their studies and can work in the US for up to one year or two years (for science and engineering students) after graduation in the Optional Practical Training scheme.
With over 4,500 colleges and universities, the higher education system in the U.S. offers something for everyone. No matter what your educational goals may be, you will be able to find a college or university that provides the particular field you want to study. In fact, you’ll probably find several colleges or universities to choose from!
Nora S. Khachetourians
Executive Director, ACEI, Inc.