There’s a reason the USA frequently ranks at the top of the list for international student destinations. Or, to be more specific, there are multiple reasons this massive North American country holds such incredible appeal for students planning to study abroad! With top-tier, innovative, hands-on learning systems preparing students to be the best versions of themselves as well as excellent post-study opportunities, a degree from a US university can guarantee your career a great jumpstart. Not to mention, the opportunity to experience the lifestyle you’ve only consumed through a screen is pretty incredible in itself! Without further ado, let’s get into the real question – why study in the USA?
7 Reasons to Study in the USA for International Students
1. Study Under One of the World’s Best Education Systems
To answer the “Why study in the USA?” question, the natural starting point is the quality of higher education in the USA. And you’ve guessed it – the USA does call itself home to many of the best universities in the world! To put this into perspective, here are some impressive numbers:
QS Top Universities
QS World University Rankings 2022
- US universities occupy five of the top ten spots. The highest-ranked university in the world – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – is a US institute
- Of 1,300 ranked universities, 177 are US universities
QS US World University Rankings 2021
- Over 350 universities made the list, the largest number to date
Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022
- Eight US universities rank in the global top ten. Two tie in second place: California Institute of Technology and Harvard University
- Of 2,112 entries, 188 are US universities
- Best National University Rankings 2022
- Best Global Universities of 2022
- Of 2,005 institutions, 282 are US universities
Sure, rankings aren’t everything and you shouldn’t decide whether a school is right for you depending on how high it ranks. But how consistently US universities appear across these global rankings makes a compelling point. US universities are continuously pursuing academic excellence. Faculties feature top experts in their fields. US institutions play a leading role in global research. They’re also famous for flexible classroom structures, dynamic and industry-responsive curricula, and technology-driven teaching and learning. Your US degree tells employers and further education prospects that you are an incredibly capable, knowledgeable, and skilled individual in your field!
2. Personalise Your Degree to Suit You
One of the reasons why international students want to study in the USA is because of how accommodating the system is. Here, you can truly personalise your higher education journey to suit your preferences! Some students find that they sign up for a bachelor’s degree after high school that ends up not being what they envisioned. Rather than feeling stuck on an academic route that doesn’t feel right for you, the flexibility of attending a US college gives you more room to explore what you want to specialise in! It’s not uncommon for students to declare their major – i.e. choose their specialisation – a year or two into their bachelor’s program. When you need to declare your major differs from university to university. Typically, though, you can spend the first two years of your four-year program (freshman and sophomore year) studying general and foundational courses and exploring electives. A broad range of electives and minors let you dip your toes in all sorts of academic waters to figure out what you’re truly passionate about. Meanwhile, core courses let you build a solid foundation on which you develop your learning! You can then decide what you want to specialise in for your final two years (junior and senior years).
3. Work Your Way Up to Your Dream School
If you’ve always dreamed of studying in a top US school in your field, but find that you don’t quite meet their eligibility requirements, don’t fret. The US higher education system lets you work your way up to it!
To complete a US university program, you have to complete a set number of credits. The good news is that you can transfer credits across universities! This creates opportunities to start off with, say, an associate degree. This degree counts for the first two years of a typical four-year bachelor’s program! You can opt to do an associate degree at a community college, another distinct feature of the US higher education system. A community college will usually cost less, is easy to get into, and features smaller class sizes, helping you ease into studying in the USA. Then, making sure you have the necessary credits, you can transfer these over to a different university! You get to save a bit in tuition fees as well as work yourself up to your dream school as a transfer student. And this is a very common practice in the USA too! You don’t need to complete all four years of a bachelor’s degree at your end-goal university to graduate with a degree from that school. Barack Obama, the 44th American president, was a transfer student! And he’s just one of several high-profile individuals who succeeded through this system.
One of the benefits of studying in the USA for international students is the opportunity to take up undergraduate pathway programs. Here, you can take on English as a second language (ESL) courses to polish up your language proficiency. In the meantime, you also take courses adding up to credits you can transfer to start sophomore year at your chosen university! Graduate pathway programs and pre-master’s programs are also great opportunities to bridge your studies and qualifications into your end-goal master’s program in the USA.
4. Innovative and Engaging Classroom Environment
The classroom environment is going to vary from program to program and university to university (and even professor to professor). Nonetheless, learning in a US university does not simply involve reading textbooks, sitting in lectures, and taking notes. The classroom structure and teaching styles of professors encourage you to develop a bunch of in-demand soft skills alongside knowledge-based learning. Professors encourage you to participate in class, voicing your opinions, taking part in discussions and debates, mulling over different perspectives and schools of thought.
They often favour peer instruction as the dominant classroom learning style. You and your classmates, either individually or as groups, tackle questions based on your assigned reading or topics covered in class. Engaging in what you’re learning in this way helps you develop a lot more than just knowledge. You learn to be a critical and independent thinker and a person who can examine any situation from multiple points of view. You grow into a confident communicator and an active participant in your own learning.
You’ll undertake a lot of independent and project-based learning as part of your classes. This teaches you to be responsible and proactive in your own learning, as well as get lots of hands-on, experience-based knowledge and skills. Learning through practice is far more impactful than reading off the pages of a textbook and this philosophy is present in US university classrooms across the country. Technology also typically plays a huge part in learning in these classrooms. This creates a dynamic, engaging, and cutting-edge environment for learning that keeps up with the way the world is advancing!
5. Benefit from Work Experience in a Highly Developed Economy
An in-built opportunity we need to discuss for students wondering why they ought to study in the USA is the option to undertake work experience. As an international student, you can qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – which lets you work in the USA as a student! You need to check off a couple of conditions to qualify for CPT. First, the co-op program or internship needs to be an important component of your degree program. Second, the training you’re signing up for needs to be within your field of study. And third, you need to secure the training before you can get CPT authorisation. Your school can help you find appropriate training and sign up for CPT!
You might also qualify for Pre-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training). To qualify, you need to complete at least one year in a full-time academic program at an SEVP-certified institution. Under Pre-Completion OPT, you can work part-time – 20 hours a week – while your semester is ongoing. Over breaks, you can work full-time!
As an international student, you can qualify for both CPT and OPT, depending on your program and relevant requirements. So, it’s worthwhile to consider how to maximise your work opportunities in the USA by taking advantage of these options!
The first-hand experience applying what you’re learning in classes in a practical and professional environment is one you can’t emulate in the classroom. You develop your specialism in your field of study and you get to do so in one of the world’s most highly-developed economies! The skills and experience you develop also make you an incredibly appealing candidate in the job market. Unsurprisingly, 90 US universities rank within the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022! Alongside the weight that a degree from a US university adds to your qualifications, work experience in the USA makes you an even stronger candidate in your field.
6. Post-Study Work Opportunities in the USA
Another of the many benefits of studying in the USA for international students is that the work opportunities don’t just end when you finish your degree. International students may also qualify for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), which lets them stay on and work in their chosen field for 12 months! If you already took part in Pre-Completion OPT, the duration of your Post-Completion OPT will be 12 months minus the duration of Pre-Completion OPT. In other words, if for example you already completed OPT before graduating for 10 months, your Post-Completion OPT will be valid for two months. If you’re a STEM student, you might also be able to extend your stay by 24 months – clocking in a maximum of three years to live and work in the USA! Your Designated School Official (DSO) will assist in helping nominate you for OPT.
7. Be Part of Melting Pot of Cultures
Many US universities consider cultural diversity an important aspect of their philosophy. Universities want to ensure they have diverse classrooms made up of many different worldviews, experiences, and perspectives. You can learn a lot from not just your professors and classes, but also from your classmates and friends.
Thanks to cultural diversity being a priority for many different universities, you may access excellent opportunities as an international student. For example, universities may offer scholarships for students from specific parts of the world to incentivise students from around the world to apply.
This also means that you get to be a part of an incredible multicultural community. Many parts of the USA are cultural mosaics made up of people and influences from around the world. And the lively US university campuses are no exception! This means you will certainly find familiar sights, sounds, and people who remind you of home and help soothe some of that homesickness. While getting your footing in the familiar, you also get to learn more about the rest of the world through all the different people and cultures you’ll run into when studying in the USA!
Why Study in the USA? Concluding Thoughts
There are dozens of answers to the “Why study in the USA?” question. We’ve rounded up what we hope are the most compelling ones for prospective international students looking for the best place to make their study abroad dreams come true! The USA lives up to its reputation as one of the best places to get a world-class higher education. With excellent universities, expert lecturers, cutting-edge research and technology to develop knowledge and learning, and dynamic classroom environments, you can be sure you’re in the right hands to kick off your academic pursuits. Excellent work opportunities and diverse communities add to the irreplaceable experience of studying in the USA! You will have plenty of opportunities to grow into the best version of yourself as a student here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can international students get scholarships in the USA?
Yes! Plenty of US universities have scholarship schemes in place including awards specifically for international students! To figure out how to get a scholarship for the USA, look into the eligibility requirements of each university- and program-specific award scheme. You might find scholarships specific to programs, to applicants from your country, need- and merit-based scholarships, etc.! You might also qualify for external scholarships, for instance under the Fulbright Program.
What are the disadvantages of studying in the USA for international students?
“Disadvantages” are a bit hard to define. As an international student, you might experience culture shock and homesickness travelling to an unfamiliar place so far from home. For you, this distance from familiar people and places might be a huge disadvantage. For others, this might be an exciting new opportunity to experience things you haven’t experienced before. You might even be experiencing a combination of both! The key to overcoming these struggles is how you decide to deal with them. You can manage your feelings of homesickness and feed into your excitement of being in a new place with the right mindset!
Some students worry about fitting in or feel like they stand out against the rest of their peers in a way they don’t mean to stand out. You may feel concerned about prejudice or discrimination on the basis of your culture, ethnicity, religion, gender, and so on. While no place in the world is truly free of discrimination, it’s also not accurate to label an entire country and all its people as intolerant or unwelcoming. Cultural diversity and inclusion are very important to many US universities. And lots of communities within the country celebrate all the different people and cultures within them! Everyone is going to experience studying abroad in a new and unfamiliar place differently. Going in with realistic expectations helps make sure you make the most of your experience!
While the pros versus cons can get quite subjective, we believe that from the perspective of an international student looking to get the best academic experiences, the pros of studying in the USA outweigh the cons. Many of our students currently studying in the USA, or those who graduated from US universities, cite the experience as a positive and life-changing one. It’s always a bit challenging to step out of one’s comfort zone, but the academic, professional, and personal growth opportunities you get in exchange are once-in-a-lifetime!
Why study in the USA, not Canada or some other country?
Well, that comes down to your personal preferences – what exactly are you looking for in your higher education experience? You might choose to study in Canada because you find the tuition fees for your chosen program are lower in Canada than in the USA. Or you might want to study in the USA so you can get an associate degree first and then work your way up to your dream university degree. It boils down to what you are looking for in your study abroad journey! We recommend researching all your options first before making your decision.
Why do Indian students prefer to study in the USA?
Students from India, like other international students, find the USA appealing as a study abroad location for multiple reasons. The USA has world-class universities with outstanding reputations as the best in the field across dozens of specialisations. The flexible, customisable nature of programs as well as the engaging and hands-on learning environment in US university classrooms set students up for success as a graduate of this education system. Alongside these excellent study opportunities, students also have the chance to get some work experience as a student and after graduating. The academic and professional experience they get by studying in the USA gives them a huge advantage in the global job market. Plus, thanks to how diverse and multicultural the USA is, Indian students and international students overall have an easier time settling in. They find both familiar sights, sounds, tastes, and so on to help them feel at home. At the same time, they also get to learn more about exciting cultures and experiences firsthand!