Each year, individuals from all over the world travel to the United States to earn academic credentials, attain degrees, and graduate from renowned universities. Some people are attracted to the campus culture of American schools, while others are interested in the cachet of attending specific programs that are globally respected in their prospective career field.
However, it can be difficult to research a high-quality higher education in a competitive and shifting landscape. The past few years have introduced unprecedented changes to that landscape, especially for international candidates interested in studying abroad in the U.S.
Yet thousands of international students decided that those changes created the opportunity for them to move forward with their goal of attending a college or university in the U.S. Maybe that is also true for you.
In this post, learn why this might be a good time to pursue higher education in the U.S. Then, you can make a decision about whether ordering a credential evaluation and applying to schools is the right choice for you.
The United States is one of the best countries to pursue higher education, hosting about 50% of the world’s top universities, according to US News.
Those institutions are known for their rigorous curriculums, a diverse student body, small class sizes, state-of-the-art equipment, and knowledgeable professors. Students are afforded hands-on learning, the chance to gain real-world experience (through options like internships or practicums), and research opportunities.
Plus, academic curiosity is a key pillar of higher education in America. Many students enjoy the freedom of choosing their course structure, pacing, and unique subject areas while studying in the U.S.
Even if you don’t plan to pursue a career in the United States, your experience as an international student will impact your future job prospects. Excelling in an unfamiliar, challenging setting is impressive enough on its own, but earning a degree from a country that is known for its higher education will reflect highly on you as well. Employers will see you as someone with an international mindset. Plus, people who can quickly adapt to new environments and get along with diverse groups are always in demand.
As we increasingly shift to an online, linked, global business mindset–spurred by the pandemic to escalate at a rapid pace–this might become more advantageous than ever before.
International students are given the opportunity to work while they attend university in the U.S. This can be a valuable way to gain professional experience, earn a little spending money, and network.
International STEM students can also stay in the country after their program concludes and continue to build on that valuable experience. Qualifying F-1 visa holders can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which enables them to stay in the U.S. for two years after graduation as long as they secure a relevant job. Recent policies have extended flexibility with applying for OPT, making it easier than it has been in years to make the most of your learning and training opportunities when you pursue higher education in the United States.
Getting work experience in America is highly valuable and will serve you well in your career. Many international students find they have better career opportunities and higher pay after gaining work experience in the U.S.
Popular fields of study for international students include technology, math, science, engineering, and business. But to remain competitive, schools continue to create new, interesting, and diverse courses of study that address contemporary issues and emergent trends.
With so many reputable programs and schools to choose from, you might have majors available to you in the United States that are not commonly available in other countries. What’s more, students often have more control over their courses and what they want to study in the U.S. Undergraduates can typically try courses at the start of their enrollment before deciding which concentration they want to focus on.
Afterward, their program might offer a flexible structure where the student has some input about which courses they take in order to fulfill requirements. They might also be able to take a minimum or maximum number of credits at one time, spreading their semesters out or compacting their time spent completing a program, so that the pace of their program best suits their learning style and gives them the best chance to succeed. This is often a topic of conversation that can be raised with academic advisors, career counselors, and professors.
It is advisable to consider which topics you’re interested in, or which programs will best complement the career you hope to pursue, and then research which schools are recognized for those programs. You can reach out to alumni of those programs to get a real sense of participating in those programs and attending that school. You might also inquire about the international student accommodations both at the school and in the surrounding community. A school’s location and surrounding environment can play a big part in how a student acclimates and succeeds both during and after their enrollment.
The U.S. has one of the largest economies in the world for a reason: It is a leader in many areas of technology and research. As the United States strives to maintain its position, it seeks to recruit and retain bright minds from around the world. The demand for intelligent international students, with fresh global outlooks, has perhaps never been higher, making this a great time to consider offering your own contributions by joining a research graduate program in the U.S.
Schools in the U.S. benefit from funding and support for their graduate programs in these areas, and students therefore have access to the best professors, technology, resources, and opportunities.
Research programs are innovative by nature. Students may be able to initiate their own research projects or choose which ongoing projects to assist. Their work is often published and can lead to patents or important collaborations in their field.
If research is important to you, some of these factors should be among your top criteria when deciding which school you want to attend.
U.S. university campuses are their own compact communities. But they can offer international students an introduction to the American way of life. The environment encourages students to be social and make friends. Most campuses offer plenty of extracurricular activities, from hobby-based meetups and sports teams to study groups and activism committees.
It is a good idea for international students to take advantage of the robust social opportunities available to them on college campuses, in addition to academic offerings. Learning how to communicate, network, and socialize with their American peers is a large part of the study abroad and professional advantage when pursuing higher education in the U.S.
In addition to amazing academics, work experience, and opportunities to engage with campus culture, another great benefit is that you will have access to a complete set of support and wellness resources. At most colleges and universities, these are free to students.
The inclusion of these services has long been a staple of top-tier universities in the United States, but over time it has become a staple of any competitive or mainstream college or university. This is one of the reasons that this is a great time to pursue higher education in the U.S.
They include career counseling services, which can help you decide on your career path. That might involve planning practical next steps after graduation. But it can also involve conducting mock interviews, helping you prepare your resume, and more. Sometimes, these insights are invaluable for international students, whose understanding of job searches and the labor market is very different from how it is conducted in the U.S.
They might also include financial planning resources, which can point you toward scholarships. Or housing resources that can pair you with a roommate whose lifestyle and interests best complement yours. You might be able to sign up for a tutoring program if you stumble with a particular subject (including English). And professors host open office hours to meet with students one-on-one if you need extra help with a particular class.
Lastly, there is almost always a fitness center, a medical center, and a mental health counselor. So your physical and mental health can always be taken care of, without judgment, and without worrying about health insurance or the high cost of private healthcare in the United States (which is often a big concern for travelers and immigrants). Nutrition advisors can even help you navigate unfamiliar foods and menus in the cafeteria. Your campus will make sure that you’re safe and have options for wellness.
In particular, dedicated international student offices will help you get settled in your environment and overcome common roadblocks. These departments also typically organize fun events for international students such as dinners, day trips, and the chance to hear notable speakers.
In short, you are never on your own—there are always plenty of resources available to help you succeed.
We hope this article helps you make a more informed decision about pursuing higher education in the U.S. Next, be sure to find out if a credential evaluation is necessary to achieve your goals.