10 Things You Should Know About International Students
As you are preparing your new journey as an International Student in the USA you must be experiencing a nerve-racking range of mixed feelings from excitement to anxiety. Good news is,you are definitely not alone in this adventure as 1,078,822 other foreign students were recorded in 2016-2017 in the US, which now welcomes the largest number of international students all over the world.
There is an insane amount of things you should know as an international student in the US, but let’s start with locating yourself within the current context:
1. AN EXCEPTION THAT BECAME THE NORM
While in the mid 1950’s, we could barely count 35,000 international students , our Colleges and Universities have managed to attract a vertiginous increasing number of them over the years, leading to almost 600,000 enrolled in the academic year 2006-2007 to finally exceed the million milestone in 2015. An impressive +84 % growth over the past 11years. This population also represents a non-negligible share of US total number of high-level education students, with 5% of them coming from a foreign country.
2. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
The international students community comes from 200 countries with China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia representing 60% of the inflow. Lately, a rising interest has been shown by students coming from the Indian subcontinent including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. But whether you are from Europe, Latin America or Africa, each continent has its share of community on American campuses.
3. WHAT’S YOUR FIELD OF STUDY?
Chances are if you want to study the arts and how to play the bagpipe you will not have a lot of fellow foreign students by your sides since almost 50% of the international students enroll in STEM field related studies (especially popular amongst Indian and Iranian students) and near 20% major in Engineering. Business and Management is also of great interest to international students with a strong 19%.
4. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING?
With the possibility of extending your stay in the US and putting to good use the learnings from your studies, OPT is a major winner over the past years with a serious growing trend since Obama’s implementation (+19% in 2016-2017). Today, it represents 16% of overall international students. Meanwhile, non-degree students suffer a serious -24% decrease
5. A DOWNWARD GOING TREND IN NEW ENROLLMENT
Although the numbers have been on the rise, it seems that the statistics on new enrollment are showing a decrease for the first time in 12 years. A -3 % was recorded in the academic year 2016-2017. A trend later confirmed during 2017 fall semester. Looks like the US Colleges and Universities are facing some serious competition abroad and you have probably also considered moving to another country.
6. A NATIONWIDE ENROLLMENT FACING DIFFICULTIES
International students may be attracted to the US academic system but certainly not at all costs. Certain colleges have trouble recruiting international students due to their location (Midwest) or by imposing commitments that are hard to keep on the long term. Some also have specific masters’ degrees.
Some Universities, on the opposite, thrive on their success but keep on increasing their fees giving international students cold feet.
7. HAVE YOU ALMOST ENROLLED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY? HERE IS WHY
Every year, popular universities in Germany, in the UK or in Spain, attract more and more international students due to new attractive programs and faculty quality with much lower education costs. Countries such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia cut back on scholarship programs to keep their students inland. Other students have also been discouraged by Visa denials and travel bans.
8. BUT THE US HASN’T SAID ITS LAST WORD
US Colleges and Universities are very resourceful when it comes to convincing you to choose their program. Institutions have been making efforts in increasing outreach and recruitment abroad especially towards Asian countries.
But onsite as well, Universities are working towards better information about US policy changes, also to give them more support and involve them in the campus life and activities. They also work on developing social media interactions and counseling.
9. BILLS, BILLS, BILLS… BILLS.
It can be intimidating to move to the US to study when enrolling fees can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Thankfully, the financial supports are thriving online for international students with IEFA. Org and Internationalscholarship.com being the most popular ones. US Universities also sometimes offer financial support providing certain conditions, it might even be negotiable! Scholarships at an international level are also available while international organizations such as the UN, AMIDEAST and Soros Foundation also have financial support programs to encourage students to travel and graduate abroad. International students can also apply for private international loans. Whatever happens, be sure that the most prestigious universities such as Ivy Leagues’ have never denied an international student due to financial matters and will always help you finding the best way for you to get financial aid.
10. GETTING THE HOLY GRAIL
Obtaining a US visa can sometimes seem like the holy grail for students who manage to enroll at an American university. However, the length of this Visa will only cover the length of the course taken. There are 3 types of student visa:J1, F1, M1. F1 being the most common for international students as they cover academic programs and English language programs at US Colleges and Universities. The interesting thing about F1 is that it can be extended in case of an OPT which will help you practice whatever knowledge you have received during your time studying in the US. If you get lucky, this F1 visa could turn into a H1B visa, where a company would support your residency to have you on board. That is why OPT are so popular and very well perceived in the US.