Five Reasons International Students Should Consider U.S. Universities

If you've read an admissions blog before, chances are you're familiar with one of our favorite words in the university search process: fit. Fit refers to how any number of university qualities or characteristics mesh with what you, the student, are looking for from a university. For example, asking questions like whether a university is a good academic fit (Do they have your program of study?) or a good campus culture fit (What type of environment do you want to be in?) are very common things to ask in the search process.

But one of the most important fit factors is location. Location, whether we recognize it or not, plays a very large role in determining where we decide to call "home" for our academic career. For some students, there might be no question about what country, state, or city in which you will study. However, for international students who know they want to study outside of their home country, this could be one of the most influential fit factors to consider. There are many countries you could study in, so how do you choose?

The United States is a top destination for many international students looking to study abroad for their undergraduate or graduate degree program — in the 2017–18 academic year, the U.S. hosted over one million (yes…1,000,000!) international students (Open Doors 2018 Report). To help you understand a bit more about why so many international students choose to study in the U.S., I've put together a list of five of the greatest benefits to studying in the U.S.

In the 2017–18 academic year, the U.S. hosted over one million (yes…1,000,000!) international students.

1. Academic flexibility

When applying to U.S. universities, one of the biggest differences you'll notice is how many programs of study there are to choose from. Students can choose from any number of course selections as well as create their own program of study by combining a few favorite fields or topics, add on minors, certifications, and even take on multiple specializations. And for students who discover a new passion or interest throughout the course of their academic career, changing your course of study is not unheard of.

While there are still specific course requirements for most programs of study, many U.S. universities offer opportunities to receive an interdisciplinary education and encourage you to think and learn outside of your field. For example, at Drexel we have a program called Dragons Teach, in which students in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) major can also earn a secondary school teaching certificate, alongside (and with no disruption to) their regular course of study.

2. Support services

Universities within the U.S. have decades of experience in working with and supporting the whole student. We recognize that in order to be the very best student that you can be, you're going to need some help along the way. We have built in support services to ensure you're able to focus on your studies and building a community.

A few key offices that I like to highlight are our Office of International Students and Scholars Services (which supports our 5,000+ international students, scholars, and faculty), the Center for Learning and Academic Success Services (which provides access to our academic coaching and tutoring services, as well as more specialized support programs), and the Drexel Counseling Center (which promotes and supports emotional well-being and healthy behavior for all students).

My biggest recommendation for all students…don't wait to ask for help! The Dragon community is ready and eager to help support all our students.

3. Professional experience opportunities

When I'm traveling for Drexel, I love to ask students why they're considering attending school in the U.S. One of the most common answers I receive is "I want to get a good job after I graduate," so it's no wonder that so many students choose the U.S. for their future professional goals. U.S. institutions are well regarded in the international job market, and we are home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other country in the world. Students are encouraged to test-drive their careers before they graduate through internships, on- and off-campus jobs, and volunteer work.

At Drexel, we have a strong tradition of experiential learning through our cooperative education program (Drexel Co-op), which provides students with high-impact, real-world work experience. International students can gain valuable work experience that is integrated into the Drexel curriculum through curricular practical training (CPT) as part of their F-1 student visa. Also, we're celebrating 100 impactful years with co-op this year!

4. Cutting edge technology and research opportunities

In addition to work experience through co-op and internship programs, U.S. universities are proud to be engaged in some of the world's most ground-breaking research and cutting-edge technology. This translates into opportunity for our students.

Most U.S. institutions encourage their graduate-level students to engage in research; however, at Drexel, we take it a step further. We're not only designated at the highest level of research activity (R1) from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, but we also have one of the largest undergraduate research programs in the country: the STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars program. As a first-year student, you can conduct paid, independent research with a faculty mentor.

5. Diverse and dynamic campuses

We recognize that you're not just going to a university to take classes and earn a degree. You're looking to join a supportive community, make lasting friendships, and take the next steps towards your future career. The U.S. university experience is unlike any other; it will provide you with the stability and support of a community that will, in turn, empower you to go out of your comfort zone to try new experiences through a wide variety of extracurricular programs.

On Drexel's campus, we have over 350 different clubs and organizations, including over 70 that are religious or cultural in nature. But there's always room for more! Each year, our Drexel Dragons start new organizations that shape our community for the better. Ebony, one of our international students from Jamaica, did just that when she realized that there was no active organization for students of Caribbean descent. Now, we have a thriving new addition to our community: the West Indian Student Establishment (W.I.S.E.)!

As you can see, there are many amazing reasons to choose the U.S. as your educational destination, and with over 4,000 colleges and universities you certainly have a lot of options to choose from! I encourage you to spend some time on our admissions blog to learn more about the university search process and Drexel so that you can start finding the right fit institution for you.