Choosing the USA
In the 2011/2012 academic year the number of international students in the USA rose to an all-time high of 764,495, representing a 31% increase in the past decade. They choose the Unites States as the place they wanted to broaden their experience and continue their education, making the U.S. the top choice over any other country in the world. But why do so many international students choose U.S. colleges and universities?
Before you pack your bags, you should learn what the U.S. has to offer you:
The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. At the undergraduate level, excellent programs exist in traditional disciplines, as well as in professional fields. At the graduate level, students have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest minds in their field of study, with the chance to become involved with exclusive research and educational opportunities. U.S. degrees are recognized throughout the world for their excellence.
The United States is home to several thousand colleges and universities, boasting at least ten times as many campuses as in any other country. As a result, the higher education system in the U.S. has something for everyone. Some U.S. colleges and universities stress broad educational principles; others emphasize practical, employment-related skills; and still others specialize in the arts, social sciences or technical fields. As a result, you can often have a variety of options and educational opportunities if you are looking for a place to study a particular field. You can usually find several schools to choose from, no matter how specific or unusual your needs may be.
Universities in the U.S. pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology, research and techniques, and in making the best possible equipment and resources available to their students. Even if your field does not directly involve science or engineering, you will have opportunities to become skilled in using the latest technology to conduct research, as well as obtain and process information. You will find ways to stay connected with researchers, teachers and experts in your field all over the world.
You may be able to gain valuable experience through teaching and/or research while you help to finance your education in the U.S., particularly if you are a graduate student. Many graduate programs offer training and teaching opportunities that enable students to become teaching assistants to undergraduates and/or research assistants on special projects exploring different aspects of your field of study.
International students are some of the most valued teachers and researchers in U.S. universities because they bring new skills and ideas to the classroom and library or laboratory. This practical component of your education will prove useful in your future career, and may give you insights into your field that would not be possible through course study alone.
Although many programs are highly structured in that specific coursework requirements must be met, you will generally be able to find a wide variety of course choices to meet those requirements. For example, liberal arts coursework for an undergraduate program will include (among others) classes in languages and mathematics, but you will often have several options from which to choose insofar as which language class you take, or which area of mathematics appeals most to your interests and skills.
At the advanced stages of a degree, or if you are pursuing a graduate degree, you will be able to tailor your coursework to fit your specific academic goals, needs and interests. When you choose topics for independent study for a graduate thesis or dissertation, you can emphasize ideas that are important to you, your field and your country.
Studying in the United States is a rewarding experience, but navigating your way through day-to-day issues can be a challenge. Many international students find that the college and university international student office is a great help in helping them adapt to a culturally and academically different environment. The mission of the international student office is to assist students like you, and there is often a wide range of student services that they provide
An orientation program upon your arrival is just the start of the many programs and benefits of the university international student office - throughout your time in the U.S., they can help answer questions you may have regarding your visa status, financial situation, housing, employment possibilities, health concerns and more. If you choose to complete your degree in the United States, this office often provides resume and employment assistance as graduation nears. The international student office will be an invaluable source of information and help as you make the transition into academic and cultural life in the United States.
Experience in an international setting is a marketable commodity. Many employers seek the wide range of knowledge, adaptability and experience that international students acquire by studying in the United States. Companies in the U.S. are increasingly seeking to become a strong presence in the global marketplace. They often look to hire employees who not only have multi-cultural language skills, but those who can also help communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures.
The United States is not the only country seeking strong candidates when hiring; international students are in high demand elsewhere, as well. In recent years, international companies have become much more proactive in recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates. Your long-term career prospects can be enhanced by your experiences through the development of self-confidence, independence and cross-cultural skills - attributes which are in high demand with employers worldwide.
When you continue your studies in the U.S., you are making a choice to broaden not only your educational experience, but your cultural opportunities, as well. Whether you attend a small, private college in a small town or a university situated in the middle of a large urban area, most universities offer a variety of student clubs and organizations to match the wide array of student interests. You can have the opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, meeting new people and making new friends, through different organizations and associations.
International students often find that the international student office is a good starting point for campus offerings, as well as the campus student center. Your time studying abroad can be enriched by taking part in the social and cultural scene surrounding you, and you will likely find that U.S. campuses provide a rich variety academic, cultural and athletic activities that add new dimensions to your life.