The growth of the internet over the past two decades, and trends towards globalization in general, have afforded unprecedented access to the U.S. higher education system for foreign students. According to the latest “Open Doors” report, prepared by the Institute for International Education, last year alone more than 1.000.000 students received visas for study at colleges, universities and other academic institutions in the U.S. The universities themselves have actively participated in this process seeking both greater diversity and additional sources of revenue.
What reasons are behind this growth and why should a foreign student consider seeking a university degree in the U.S.? First of all, there are several reasons that he or she may not want to, or not be suited to, study in the U.S., none the least the significant costs associated with university studies. The decision to pursue study in the US is, undoubtedly, a very personal one that should not be taken lightly and will be influenced by each individual student’s personal motivations, personality and capabilities. But for those that have demonstrated a high level of achievement in academics, athletics or the arts, that are intellectually and culturally curious and that strive for more, a U.S. university education offers some unparalleled opportunities.
Year after U.S. colleges and universities figure prominently in all of the top world rankings. Based on levels of research, quality of professors, quality of life, campus resources and many other metrics, the U.S. system is truly one of the world’s best. With literally thousands of institutions to choose from, with varying levels of academic rigor, and with a high degree of flexibility in degree programs, the U.S. university system offer virtually unlimited options. For foreign students, some of the widely cited advantages of studying in the U.S. include:
- Access to Professors – This is a key selling point highlighted by most private institutions and increasingly by public ones as well. Smaller class sizes, of a more participative nature, allowing for better access to professors means that the international student can count on extra guidance and assistance throughout the college experience. It is not unusual to find colleges touting student faculty ratios of under 10 to 1.
- Research Participation – A major difference between the US and other university systems is not only the significant level of research taking place on college campuses (sometimes representing billions of dollars in investment), but also the ability to get involved in this research as a student at an early stage. This opportunity allows students to make decisions about, and prepare for, their future careers in a way that is both stimulating and practical.
- Internships – Another hallmark of many US colleges today are their internship opportunities. Theses increasingly prevalent programs provide students with an important and practical way to participate first hand in a particular career field and to gain valuable experience that may apply when they enter the job market.
- Cultural Immersion – It is hard to find a more diverse place in the world than on certain US college campus, drawing students and faculty from so many groups, origins and nationalities. For the student that wants to really “see the world” , to get involved in and debate issues of universal concern to share, or just make interesting new friends, the US college experience will not disappoint.
- World Class Facilities – Most will surely agree that the US university system is unparalleled in terms of the facilities on campus today. Whether it is college dormitories, dining halls, sports complexes, research centers or libraries, billions of dollars of endowment money is spent every year at hundreds of colleges to upgrade campus infrastructure and resources. In fact, some campuses have become so developed and self-sufficient that their students need not even leave (although we encourage them to do so!)
- Networking / Job Prospects – Contacts are what you make of them, of course, but many find that the extensive alumni networks of US colleges throughout the world are a very useful tools for accessing information on career opportunities or advice on career choices. Most colleges today have also made it a priority to invest in their career counseling departments, as well as pre-professional counseling. For most college students, these resources are the “bridge” between their academic pursuits and the career path that follows.
- Credentials – There is no doubt that, in today’s competitive job market, a degree from a US university and the experience behind the degree, may provide a student with an additional advantage. We would go beyond the “prestige factor”, however, and state that the richness of the experience and the preparation afforded by the US system itself, will also be key factors in making the student a more attractive candidate for employers.
At Access USA we work with students and parents to explore and select the best options for study in the US, based on each student’s unique profile, interests and motivations. We provide guidance and advice before, during and after the admissions process, crafting personalized strategies and compelling applications. We want students to find their “best fit” choices for their personal development and to prepare them for their future.