Dec 20th, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
International students have a wealth of opportunities at American colleges
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I am a high school junior in Singapore and want to pursue a career in computer science. I intend to apply to a top American college. Family friends have told me that colleges in the United States are eager to admit international students. Is this true? If so, is there any advice you can offer me that will help in the application process?
Signed, International Student
Dear International Student,
Harvard and Yale as well as other top State and private colleges and universities all have a sizable international demographic and do welcome international students.
For example, international students make up 12.8 percent of Harvard’s class of 2023 and 12.3 percent for Cornell. Indiana’s Purdue class of 2023 has eight percent international students and Indiana University has 5.9 percent.
According to a recent Inside Higher Education article, an “Open Doors” survey found that in 2018-19 there are continuing declines in new international enrollments, “though the latter declines are less sharp than in prior two years. Overall, research universities reported increases in new international enrollments this fall, while master’s institutions and institutions in the Midwest reported decreases.”
Interestingly enough, the “Open Doors” data for the 2018-19 academic year also reported that “math/computer science surpassed business/management as the second-most-popular field for international students, after engineering. The number of students studying math and computer science increased by 9.4 percent, while the number studying business fell by 7.1 percent.”
Most students come to the U.S. on an F-1 visa, which allows them to stay through graduation in an accredited program. The State Department issued 362,929 F-1 visas in 2018, down from a high of 644,233 in 2015.
I would definitely encourage you to apply to colleges in the United States. It is a fact that many of the lesser known colleges work hard to attract international students because they want to add to the intellectual diversity of their campus community. More importantly, your area of study is receiving a great deal of curricular emphasis and cash investment on all college campuses.
Do not limit yourself to only well-known colleges and universities in your application process. Part of the strength of American higher education is that it is possible to get a good education in every state and not just at the most elite and well-known institutions. For example, my clients this year were admitted to more than 70 colleges and universities ranging from Harvard and Yale to the University of California Berkley and Notre Dame. A number of them were also admitted to smaller colleges such as Valparaiso University, Wake Forest, and Rollins.
International students tend to have higher test scores than regular applicants and that helps boost college rankings. In addition, they often pay full tuition that helps offset costs for domestic admissions.
Many international students already in college are not aware that they can transfer to the United States for academic reasons. Because many foreign colleges do not offer the broad range of majors and classes that are available in this country, students may need to transfer to complete their studies.
However, International students who want to transfer should be prepared to face hurdles. You must take the SAT or ACT and that is sometimes difficult to do in many foreign countries. Remember that you will need to get teacher recommendations and learn about early decision applications and interview locations just like American students.
The best place to start your college search is the Internet. Spend time looking at the requirements for the schools of your choice and explore the scholarship opportunities and financial obligations. College admissions standards vary, and there is no single qualification that will get you in to every school. In the end, if you do your research and prepare your application materials carefully, I am confident you will find a way to come to America for your education.
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