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Top Reasons Why International Students Want to Study in the US

advice for students
campus life
By Shorelight Team
Last updated on October 28, 2021

Find out why millions of international students choose to study in the US, the world’s most popular destination for studying abroad.

With more than one million international students, the United States is the world’s most popular destination for studying abroad. Here are the top reasons to study in the US, including why international students choose to study in the US, why you might choose the US for study, and how higher studies in the US can help achieve your goals.

Why Do Students Choose to Study in the US?

Every student has their own reason and motivation for choosing the US to pursue their degree, and many are linked to the benefits international students can experience while living and studying in the US. 

Approximately half of the best global universities are located in the USA, according to U.S. News & World Report. From undergraduate studies to PhD-level programs, universities in the US offer top-ranked academic opportunities across all disciplines. In the US, you can choose from more than 5,000 higher education institutions. Every university is unique and has something special to offer, from first-class academics to international-friendly studies programs. 

Another strong advantage to US universities is flexibility around selecting your major, as it gives you the opportunity to explore your interests before fully committing to an academic degree program. Whether you want to enroll in a specific major at the start of your studies or begin as an undeclared major, US universities give you the time and space to make your choice. 

Additionally, US universities and college programs offer general education courses that allow you to take a wide variety of courses and gain exposure to different specializations. Many university programs also enable students to explore multiple academic subjects, while still earning credits, through electives.

With its wide variety of cultures, university choices, degree options, lifestyles, and cities, the US offers unparalleled benefits for all types of students, no matter where you are from or which major you choose. 

Benefits of Studying in the US

A US university degree covers outstanding academics, of course, but also personal and professional growth, too. International students in the US benefit from:  

  • Real-world working experience — When you enroll at a US university or college, you may be able to work at one or more internships and connect with top employers. Many degree programs require an internship or co-op in order to graduate, which can build your network and provide future opportunities.

  • Career prospects — US universities and colleges regularly hold career fairs and often host career workshops with guest speakers from prominent organizations. These events connect you with industry experts who can be valuable contacts in your professional network.

  • Cutting-edge facilities — Many US universities and colleges have highly advanced research laboratories, manufacturing workshops, and more, which allow you to take part in groundbreaking research and create innovative new products.

  • Multicultural experiences — The US is home to people from all over the world, each with their own unique cultures and traditions. While studying in the US, you have the chance to live, work, and learn with diverse groups of people, giving you valuable teamwork experience that employers value in an increasingly globalized world.

Studying at a US university or college gives you the chance to pursue a world-class degree in a flexible learning environment that helps you work toward your goals.

Study at Some of the World’s Best Universities

Some of the highest-ranking universities in the world are located in the US, such as the University of California - Berkeley, ranked #4 among top global universities. The programs at US institutions equip you with the knowledge, skills, and experiences you need to excel in your dream career.  

Thanks to a broad liberal arts curriculum, as well as skills-based programs geared toward employment, you can find a school in the US that fits your learning style and objectives. You can also find specialized programs of study in the US, such as Oceanography & Coastal Science at Louisiana State University, or Sport and Athletic Administration at Gonzaga University. You may even be able to create your own interdisciplinary major, like pre-med and international relations, to work toward a career in international public health. Your possibilities for study are limited only by your imagination!

Additionally, professors at US universities use flexible teaching styles to help every type of learner succeed in the classroom. Many classes at US universities are considered active learning environments — like the MakerSpace at Cleveland State University — and are taught by professors with years of experience working in their respective fields. 

US institutions also give you the chance to learn from industry experts. Your professors will often be active researchers or innovators in the field they teach, giving you a valuable source of first-hand expertise. Connecting with your professors expands your professional network and can help you find a long-term job. These lifelong connections are a strong motivation for why international students choose to study in the US.

Rich Cultural Diversity

With so many different international students and residents, the US is one of the best destinations in the world to experience cultural diversity. This exposure to global cultures is one of the key reasons why international students choose to study in the US.

From the moment you arrive on campus, you will be surrounded by people from all walks of life, with unique traditions, cuisines, lifestyles, and fashion. You can try food from different cultures, learn a new language, or even share your culture with your friends.

International-friendly universities in the United States are committed to providing opportunities, outreach, and programs and services to all campus members. From the #youarewelcomehere campaign to departments focused on equality and inclusion, cultural diversity is a large part of life in the US.

Make Friends From Around the World

Many US cities hold annual cultural festivals celebrating international traditions, food, music, art, and more with the larger community. Join in the festivities or even volunteer to help as you connect with vibrant cultures and experience unique traditions. Cultural diversity is a great reason to choose the US for studies. 

If you are ever feeling homesick, you can join a student club! There are many types of student-run organizations and societies focusing on cultural communities. Many of these societies form clubs for students from different countries, which can connect you with other students just like you. Making friends in college is a great way to overcome culture shock while also adjusting to American college life.

By working together with your peers in class, during assignments, or meeting new people on campus, you can create a network of friends with people from all over the world. 

Wide Variety of Subjects to Major In

No matter what you want to study or the career you want to pursue, you can find a US university or college that offers a program to gets you closer to your goals. 

With the liberal arts focus many institutions have, there are many types of different subjects to major in, and these can be more specific at each institution. You can find top-ranking programs for popular majors such as business, social sciences, and biology along with specialized majors such as video game development, artificial intelligence, petroleum engineering, and more. 

Vibrant Student Lifestyle

University clubs and societies allow you to explore different aspects of student life in the US. 

If you are interested in further improving your studies, you can join studying societies, where students who want to enhance their learning experiences join together to share experiences, knowledge, and advice on how to perform better in class. Depending on the club’s activities, you may even participate in competitions with clubs from other universities!

Students interested in athletics can join clubs centered around their preferred sport, training and working together with like-minded students. Your club may also play matches with other universities, and you could join your university’s sports team and represent them on a national level.

There are all types of different clubs to explore and each university has its own selection to choose from, including pop culture appreciation, film, art, writing, and many more. If you are not able to find a club that matches your interests, you can always create your own club with your fellow students.

Experience American Culture Firsthand

Having the freedom to try new experiences may be just one reason why you want to study in the US. As an international student on an American college campus, you can:

  • Join study groups — Study groups can not only build lifelong friends, but also help you improve in class.

  • Discover favorite activities, old and new — Discover all the sights and sounds of your new home by visiting local landmarks, restaurants, and more! Cheer for your university’s sports team with your friends, try out hobbies like hiking, rock climbing, or cooking, or participate in intramural sports competitions.

  • Spend time with friends — At an internationally friendly campus in the US, your new friends will come from countries around the world. With your new campus community, you’ll truly feel like a global citizen.

Enjoy Being Independent and Self Reliant

As an international student in the US, you typically will live away from your family. While this can be challenging when you first arrive, it is a valuable experience that helps you become independent and gives you the room to grow as a self-reliant individual. 

You are responsible for maintaining your own schedule and activities throughout the day, including attending classes, keeping track of your assignments and coursework, and meeting deadlines. You’ll learn personal responsibility and accountability, and how to manage your workloads to make sure you complete your work on time. 

Your independence also gives you the freedom to live the life you choose! It is up to you to decide how to spend your free time and what you like to do, and this helps you grow as a person.

Engaging Professors and Faculty

Professors at US universities use a wide range of teaching styles, depending on the professor, subject matter, and whether the course is graduate or undergraduate

Some professors prefer a more instructional approach focusing on lectures and in-class work. Other professors may take a more hands-on approach and teach you via examples, personal experiences, or class activities. 

Your professors are also ready to support you outside of the classroom, and you can speak to them during their office hours when you need to ask a question or want to learn more. Many professors also have teaching assistants (TAs) who you can also contact for support. TAs work closely with their professors and can often answer your question if your professor is busy. 

You may also find it helpful to form study groups with other students in your class. This helps you learn new approaches to your subjects, while offering your own experience and knowledge to help other students. It can also be a great opportunity to make new friends!

Inherit the Prestige of an American Degree

The US is still the best choice for international students and this is largely because of the prestige of having a US-certified university degree. Higher study programs in the US are known for their exceptional standard of quality in terms of learning experiences, intellectual rigor, and innovative practices. 

With a US degree, you can stand out to employers as your degree represents the knowledge and experiences you have gained while studying. Your degree helps you access rewarding careers in the US or anywhere in the world.

Participate in Groundbreaking Research

US universities and colleges often have highly advanced research facilities for faculty, staff, visiting experts, and students. Some also have specially built laboratories dedicated for student course work. As a research student or researcher, you will work together with university faculty and can even work with national research organizations. For example, many Cleveland State University students are able to intern at the NASA Glenn Research Center every year. 

Conducting research is a strong focus at many US universities, and some even grant special scholarships or admission offers if you plan to pursue a career in research after graduation. Funded research topics can include neuroscience, climate change, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and much more.  

Exceptional Support System for International Students

International students can work on campus, get internships with businesses off campus, and hold research and training positions as graduate students. Internationally friendly studies programs — like Shorelight’s exclusive Career Accelerator — have career counselors experienced in helping study abroad students like you find your first internship and Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work experience positions. 

Additionally, many internationally friendly universities offer specialized courses to help international students like you adapt to college life and learn more about American culture. You will learn firsthand about American traditions, American cuisine, and maybe even get to take a field trip, attend sporting events, or visit historical sites. 

Counselors and support staff at the international student services office are experts at helping international students navigate university life. When you enroll at a Shorelight university, you get access to a suite of support services and additional programs. Our advisors help you understand the application process, handle visa questions, and find housing. After you’ve arrived on campus, they can guide you through orientation, class registration, and help you with tutoring services, culture shock, and other academic support

Launch a Successful Career After Graduating

With the skills and knowledge you gain from your program studying in the US, you will be ready to work toward your dream career anywhere in the world. The experience you have gained through your classes, internships, and diverse cultural connections give you a head start when applying for jobs and makes you stand out to employers. Additionally, the professional connections you have established through your program can allow you to access unique job opportunities in the US for your future career. 

Now that you know the top reasons to study in the US, it might be time to ask yourself: “Should I study in the US?” 

If you are ready to get started, speak to a Shorelight advisor! Your advisor provides international student services whether you are an incoming undergrad student or an experienced graduate student. They can help you find top universities, understand the application process, support you in choosing a major, and much more.

No matter your goals or ambition in life, pursuing your higher studies in the US allows you to work toward the career and life of your dreams. 

Speak with a Shorelight advisor today to start planning your next steps toward studying in the US >