+61 (0)2 8052 9509
01 MAY 2020
Studying abroad is an exciting possibility for everyone and definitely something to consider, particularly in the United States. Data from the International Institute of Education’s (IIE) Project Atlas shows that the U.S. has the largest international student population in the world, and there are several reasons why this is so. In this blog, I present to you some of the reasons as to why I chose to study in the U.S., and why you should consider it, too!
Many U.S. colleges are among the top universities in the world and for good reason. The U.S. is still one of the leaders in education and is on the front foot of research and technology.
Of the top 25 schools in the QS World University Rankings 2020, 13 are American schools. You probably have heard of the Ivy League schools (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and five more!), alongside other prestigious schools such as MIT, CalTech, Stanford, University of California - Berkeley, University of Chicago, Duke, and John Hopkins.
All these schools are known for their outstandingly competitive environment and academic rigor, thanks to the presence of renowned professors and intelligent minds from around the world. While studying in the U.S., you will be driven academically. The faculty that will be teaching you will be prominent names in the field - you might even be taught by a Nobel Laureate!
According to QS Graduate Employability Rankings, MIT, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard and UC Berkeley are in the top 10 universities in the world that produce the most employable graduates. Degrees from these top schools have an excellent international reputation and prove to be useful for your future career as employers acknowledge how difficult it is to be admitted into these schools, and even more to graduate from them, giving you a competitive edge to fellow peers of similar backgrounds and interests.
I’m not saying that those who do not attend these schools will not have a successful career, but graduating from a good-brand school will give you a statistical advantage in advancing your opportunities and providing a launching pad to a flourishing future.
There are over 4000 universities across the U.S., which guarantees you that there is a school out there that is meant for you. No matter what field of study you are interested in, you can find a program for you.
Something to take note of is that different U.S. colleges emphasize different educational values. For example, the University of Chicago is known for its very theoretical approach to education and sticking to traditional, classical roots. Princeton espouses a similar ethos. On the other hand, some universities, like MIT, CalTech, and GeorgiaTech are STEM-driven.
Another key aspect of a U.S. education (particularly at the undergraduate level) is the emphasis on a holistic and well-rounded academic journey. A term that you might hear is ‘liberal arts education’.
Around 20 to 50 percent of freshmen students enter college as “undecided” and nearly 70 percent of students will change majors at least once before graduating. U.S. universities understand that incoming freshmen (17 to 18-year-olds) are likely to have zero clues into what they want to pursue as a field of study. Because of this, U.S. universities try to provide academic flexibility in their curriculum. Students often do not have to decide immediately what they want to major in and are allowed to ‘wander’ their first few semesters and find what truly interests them.
To add on to the point about academic flexibility, many U.S. universities offer students the chance to pursue double degrees, double majors and minors, and even multiple specializations to allow them to follow their passions. Some universities are known for their special integrated programs. For example, the University of Pennsylvania created the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, a dual degree program between the Wharton School and Penn Engineering for ambitious students looking to combine their engineering studies with business concepts.
“Learning doesn't just happen in the classroom”. Many U.S. colleges adopt this mindset, and because of that, they provide extra attention to out-of-classroom methods of studying. This includes undergraduate research, entrepreneurship, internships, co-ops, project teams, and student clubs.
U.S. universities are major leaders in research and technology and benefit from generous funding, and therefore, undergraduate research is often not only something that is allowed but actively encouraged in many of these campuses, something that is very rare in other tertiary institutions. Undergraduate research gives you the opportunity to work with world-class professors and be part of groundbreaking research that impacts our world.
Don’t forget about your school’s alumni network - they can be valuable in providing career opportunities! According to Princeton Review, some of the schools with the best alumni networks include Cornell, Clemson, Claremont McKenna, and Dartmouth.
In addition to that, the U.S. being an economic superpower is home to numerous organizations, ranging from Silicon Valley start-ups to non-profit organizations to multi-billion dollar companies. By studying full-time in the U.S., you put yourself in a better position to land opportunities to intern and work in these organizations and to gain first-hand exposure to leading-edge developments and expert professionals.
The U.S. college experience has become quite iconic because it is different. It’s not just about taking classes, doing well academically and graduating - it’s also about being able to continue to do what you love, and at the same time, discover new interests.
Extracurricular activities are ubiquitous on campus and are promoted heavily. These activities range from something serious, like a debate club, to something less serious, like intramural sport or a birdwatching club! There is such diversity in the activities that you will undoubtedly find some activity to participate in, and whatever the activity that you participate in, you are guaranteed to make new friends and learn more about something else.
Moreover, Greek life is very prominent in U.S. colleges and might be something that you may consider participating in.
Furthermore, the fact that most students will live on or near campus is logistically convenient (because everybody is near!). University campuses in the U.S. are their own little bubble and is a bustling area on its own, which allows you to create strong friendships that will better your overall U.S. experience.
If you’re an ambitious and open-minded student who is enthusiastic about expanding both your intellectual and social interests, then studying in the U.S. might be a good option for you.
At the end of the day, it is a decision that you and your family must make. There are some cons to applying to the U.S., including hefty international tuition fees and the complex application process. However, do remember that there are scholarships up for grabs and you can also apply for financial aid, and if you properly manage your time, the application process will be a lot easier.
Dave is a Melbourne student who recently gained admission to Cornell University. He’ll be majoring in engineering.