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Why Study in the United States: Top 7 Reasons for International Students

Updated: Mar 29, 2023


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The United States of America is a land of opportunity and a top destination for international students. With its world-renowned universities, diverse culture, and vibrant cities, the U.S.is a great place to pursue higher education.


Many international students come to study in the U.S. Pre-pandemic, more than 1 million international students were in the country, according to the latest Open Doors Report provided by the U.S. Department of State. International education is also the fifth-largest export industry in the U.S.


International student enrollment trends, Open Doors Report, IIE, U.S. Department of State

International students will surely experience a lifetime of memories and learn from some of the best and brightest minds in the world.


But what exactly makes the U.S. such an attractive study destination? Here are the top 7 reasons why campus life in the U.S. is a great choice for international students to pursue their studies.


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Top 7 Reasons International Students Study in the USA

There are various reasons for studying in the U.S., but we selected the top 7 most common reasons and summarized them below.


1. The Quality of the Higher Education System in the U.S.

university, lecture, campus, learning environment

The United States has emerged as a world leader in having one of the best higher education systems, producing 40% of the world’s top researchers.


Education in the US is of the highest quality, with universities offering courses taught by world-class professors in an environment that promotes academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.


U.S. universities are also increasingly focusing on educating international students, who often make up about one-third of the student body. Many American universities, including large research universities, have partnerships with overseas universities and offer dual degree programs, allowing international students to obtain a bachelor’s degree from one U.S. university and a master’s degree from another.


U.S. universities also offer many study-abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to experience a new culture and expand their skills. There are also many scholarship opportunities for international students.


Lastly, there are also many community colleges in the US. More than 60,000 international students are studying at a community college in the US because they offer lower tuition costs, an intimate campus environment, and students still receive an excellent education. You can earn an associate's degree at a community college and begin working or transfer your credits toward a bachelor's degree at another university or college.


2. Access to World-Class Universities


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The U.S. boasts a strong network of premier research universities, many of which have received a Times Higher Education ranking in the top 25.


These universities offer groundbreaking research and degree programs and are a great option for students interested in pursuing a research-oriented career.


Some of the major research universities in the U.S. are as follows:

You can also view the universities and colleges part of the Association of American Universities (AAU). This is an elite group of the top 65 research universities in the U.S. that have strict membership standards and are known for academic excellence, scientific progress, and innovation.


3. Variety of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs


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University campuses in the U.S. have a very multicultural population with diverse cultures represented from all over the world. So with that, many universities offer a wide range of undergraduate level degrees (bachelor's) and advanced degrees (master's and Ph.Ds) for graduate students.


As a result, international students are sure to find an educational environment with university faculty that suits their interests and career goals. Many large research universities offer programs in specific fields such as medicine, law, business, and engineering, making it easier for students to select programs that meet their needs.


What do most students study in the USA? The most popular programs include:

  • Math and Computer Science

  • Engineering

  • Business Management

  • Social Sciences

  • Physical and Life Sciences

  • Fine and Applied Arts

  • Health Professions

  • Communications and Journalism

  • Education

  • Humanities

Whether you're an undergraduate or graduate student, a beginner or have advanced English language skills, most universities and colleges provide intensive English language programs if you need to brush up on your English language skills. Any international student can tell you, knowing English is one thing, but having a conversation with a native speaker is something completely different!


Furthermore, there is a large variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs that cater to students with different interests, making it easy for them to select programs that will help them gain valuable skills and knowledge.


4. Student Support Services for Success


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At every school campus, there is a range of support services for an international student, including career counseling, financial aid, and study abroad. Many schools also offer on-campus housing, planned and informal activities on campus and to local tourist attractions, and student employment opportunities.


Additionally, many universities and colleges have made international education a top priority on campus, so they have programs specifically designed to support international students. Some examples include helping with immigration and student visa questions, developing English language skills, organizing cultural activities, and other forms of assistance.


The U.S. also has a unique higher education system because of the services provided for mental health. Many schools, including community colleges, will provide counseling to fellow students on campus if they feel overworked, stressed, depressed, or have experienced trauma.


Most American university students find this quite normal, but it could be a surprise for international students depending on the culture of their home country.


5. Research and Innovation Opportunities


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The U.S. is a top research and innovation hub due to its large pool of highly skilled researchers, of which roughly 23% of STEM workers in the US are foreign-born.


The cultural diversity, as well as the intellectual diversity of these researchers, is unmatched. They come from various backgrounds and have extensive experience in key research areas such as computer science, health, and engineering.


The U.S. also has a large number of research institutions that conduct cutting-edge research and are among the best in the world, making it a great place to pursue science and engineering research.


Some examples of top research centers in the country include:

6. Career and Professional Development


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Several visa programs allow international graduates to stay in the U.S. for an extended period of time to gain work experience, such as Optional Practical Training (OPT). The international office at the university or college will walk you through the requirements for being eligible for OPT and other important immigration requirements for working in the country after graduation.


In addition, many universities and colleges offer career services to help you develop your cover letter and resume, learn how to dress and prepare for an interview, and other important tips for job searching in the country.


The U.S. has a robust job market, and many professionals find work in their field after completing an educational program in the country. There are many opportunities for students to find jobs after completing a degree in the US, especially in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC.


7. Experience American Culture


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Lastly, many students choose studying abroad in the U.S. so they can learn about American culture and history firsthand.


There are many opportunities to experience U.S. culture through music, art, theatre, food, and more. For international students, there are a variety of cultural and language exchange programs that allow them to get to know their American peers and learn about the US from within, as well as the diversity of regional culture throughout the country.


An international student is usually surprised by how different cultures can be from state to state!

Additionally, many universities offer extracurricular activities such as sports teams, student clubs, and organizations that provide a great opportunity for international students to connect with the campus community. An international student can also connect with local international communities if they start to miss their home country.


Are There Reasons to NOT Study in the USA?


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We summarized the most common reasons why an international student would want to study in the USA, but there are also reasons why some don't choose to study in the U.S. It's only fair that we cover these reasons as well.


Here are some of the most common reasons why an international student may not choose to study in the USA.


1. Cost

Studying in the United States can be very expensive, especially for international students who are not eligible for the same financial aid and scholarships as domestic students.


The cost of tuition, room and board, and other expenses can add up quickly and be a significant financial burden for many students and their families.


If cost is a concern, be sure to look for universities and colleges that offer scholarships for international students and that you understand the eligibility requirements. You can also work on campus for up to 20 hours each week to earn some additional income. Graduate students can also look for assistantships and different types of loans to help cover costs.


2. Culture Shock

Studying abroad can be a big adjustment, and for some international students, the culture shock of moving to the United States can be overwhelming.


The differences in language, customs, and values can be difficult to navigate and can make it hard for students to feel comfortable and assimilated in their new environment. Additionally, if English is not your first language, switching to taking courses all in a different language can also pose some new challenges.


That's why it's important to get involved outside of your academic work, such as joining different student groups so you can make new friends. Many American university students live on campus because it helps them meet new people, so this is also a great tip for international students to adjust to life in the US.


3. Homesickness

Being away from family and friends can be a major source of stress and anxiety for many international students.


Homesickness can be especially pronounced for students who are studying in the United States for the first time and who are far from home for an extended period of time.


An international student can counter homesickness by getting involved on campus, attending events and activities, finding employment on campus, and reaching out to faculty and staff for other ideas on connecting with other students.


4. Language Barrier

For students who are not fluent in English, studying in the United States can be a major challenge. Switching to taking courses all in a different language can definitely pose some new challenges.

This can make it difficult to communicate effectively with classmates, teachers, and others in the community, which can impact academic performance and overall quality of life.


It can be valuable for students to participate in intensive English language programs, no matter their level of English. Most universities and colleges offer these courses. You can also join language exchange programs where you can practice speaking English with an American student.


5. Political Climate

From what you probably see in the media, the political climate in the United States can seem highly divisive and contentious, which can be stressful and concerning.


Additionally, recent changes to immigration policies and increased scrutiny of international students have caused some to question whether studying in the United States is a good idea.

Unfortunately, most times, the media does not capture the entire story of what is going on in the U.S. and does not show all sides of the story.


And while certain politicians want to advance their own agendas by using immigration as leverage, they talk a lot, but they really don't have the power to make any changes.


No matter what country you decide to live in and study in, there will always be people who will not want to welcome you. But overall, people in the U.S. are open to international students because most of the population are decedents of immigrants. Additionally, the majority of U.S. citizens value hard work above anything else.


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No matter where you decide to study, there will be challenges. But the U.S. is a top choice for international students due to its world-class universities, high-quality education, research opportunities, diverse culture, and large job market.

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