Despite the temporary lapse due to the pandemic, studying in the United States remains a popular option for international students. In 2021, 4.6 percent of college students studying in the U.S. were from a foreign country—a slight drop from the 5.5 percent the previous year. However, this number increased by 9 percent in 2022 as pandemic-related restrictions were lifted and traveling abroad became more accessible again.
There are countless reasons why studying in the U.S. is a great idea. Here’s an overview of the top reasons why and how to start your study abroad journey.
Top 6 Reasons Students Should Study in the U.S.
1. More Degree Flexibility
Unlike higher education institutions in many foreign countries, U.S. colleges are generally flexible when it comes to changing your area of study. This flexibility can refer to several scenarios, including:
- Switching a major midway through the program
- Returning to school to study a new subject to pivot a career path
- Continuing studies from abroad in a new focus
“There are so many ways to change the direction of your degree that can be flexible depending on the person’s background and experience,” says Tomo Yamamoto, associate director of International Enrollment Marketing at Northeastern University. “That’s something really good about the United States.” This can be a significant draw for international students to students in the U.S., especially considering the education structure in other countries.
For example, many educational systems in foreign countries strongly encourage their students to pick a path and remain on it. On the other hand, the U.S. education system is built to allow each student to decide on their career path through trial and error—potentially allowing second chances to find the best fit.
Additionally, this flexibility is possible because U.S. universities offer a wider variety of degrees of study compared to institutions abroad. While this may cause “analysis paralysis” in some, it opens the world to new and improved career opportunities for others.
2. Improved Career Opportunities
Studying—and graduating—in the U.S. can pave the way to numerous career opportunities. Not only is the U.S. home to leading organizations in most industries, but many U.S. college programs are also built with future career opportunities in mind. For example, most college degrees include internship and co-op opportunities, where you can gain hands-on experience that adds impressive lines to your resumé. It also offers great opportunities for networking with professionals in your career field, which might otherwise be very challenging for international students.
As such, it’s important to find a university that’s willing to invest in your future success and offers the opportunities to do so. For example, Northeastern University is ranked #1 in the U.S. for co-ops and internship offerings. These offerings combine international students’ unique knowledge and experience from their home countries with the hands-on experience at an American university, which produces professionals with the skills needed to be more appealing job applicants.
3. Increased Fluency in English
Nearly 1.5 billion people globally speak English, and it’s considered the most widely accepted language in business across most cultures. Increasing your fluency in English can be incredibly valuable, especially when it comes to advancing your career internationally.
If English is not your native language, you should seriously consider enrolling in a U.S.-based university to fully immerse yourself in the language and improve your communication skills. Additionally, multilingualism can be a competitive advantage when you’re applying to jobs. Not only is this useful for communication with foreign stakeholders, but it also demonstrates an understanding of cross-cultural collaboration.
4. Opportunity to Gain a Global Perspective
One of the key benefits of studying in the U.S. is cultural diversity. As an international student, you’ll have the opportunity to meet individuals from a wide spectrum of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and interests. Exposure to such opinions and perspectives will support a well-rounded education and a vibrant and enriching life outside of the classroom.
Colleges in the U.S. also tend to value student life activities and organizations as much as academics. There, you’ll have several opportunities to try new activities and experiences with people you wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet and get to know.
5. Excellent Student Support
U.S. universities are renowned for offering world-class support, especially for international students. Most U.S. schools have an Office of Global Services, or something similar, with a dedicated team to ensure international students are supported in their university life. Along with these services, most universities offer career counseling, mental health resources, financial aid, and alumni connections—all to support their students in as many ways as possible.
Pro Tip: Many universities offer these services to prospective students as well. Just reach out to the admissions team and ask to be connected with support resources for international students. This is a great way to get connected to the right people who can help you with your applications, visa, and moving processes.
6. Internationally Respected Degrees
It’s hard to ignore the fact that many international students also attend schools in the U.S. because of their global rankings and educational reputations. This is largely because internationally respected degrees are seen as stepping stones to improved career opportunities. If this is your primary reason for studying in the U.S., weigh the pros and cons of a respected degree and available career prep opportunities as you decide which institution to invest your time and money in for the next few years.
How to Choose a College in the U.S.
Once you’ve decided to study in the U.S., the most important step is conducting research to find the right school for you. Here are some things to look for in your U.S. college search.
Experiential learning refers to a model of education that combines learning theory and ideas in the classroom with real-life practice and application. This form of learning allows students to gain invaluable experience, develop relevant industry skills, and immediately apply what they’ve learned. As an international student, experiential learning provides much- needed opportunities for work experience that may otherwise not be accessible.
Internship and Co-op Opportunities
Universities with strong internship and co-op opportunities tend to have outstanding ongoing relationships with many companies and employer partners. These industry connections can ultimately lead to more job opportunities for students post-graduation. Additionally, you can gain real work experience and network with leaders in your field of interest—all before you even graduate. As such, readily available internships and co-ops tend to signal that an institution is dedicated to your career success and can provide you with necessary professional support. Consider enrolling in an institution that is known for its internship program. According to U.S. News and World Report rankings, Northeastern is ranked #1 in co-op and internships in the U.S.
Quality of Education
A reliable way to assess the quality of education amongst universities is by researching reputable rankings. For instance, Northeastern University is one of the top 50 universities in the U.S., and is ranked:
- #1 in co-ops and internships
- #9 in international business
- #12 in most innovative schools.
Such titles indicate a dedication to not only quality education, but also the success of the school’s graduates, reputation, and ongoing partnerships with external organizations.
Another indication of quality education is faculty credentials. Yamamoto recommends “to look for the biography (or CV) and experience of each faculty member” at your college of interest, especially in the department you’re considering. Remember, these are the people you’ll be learning directly from for the next several years.
Since Northeastern is known for its experiential learning model, its faculty is chosen accordingly. “We take faculty from the actual field to avoid professors who are just ‘book smart,’” Yamamoto says. “We believe in hands-on experience.”
Studying in the U.S. with Northeastern University
Studying in the U.S. offers an abundance of benefits, but it’s important to ensure that you’re selecting the right college for your academic and future goals in order to take full advantage of these opportunities. Once you’ve decided to study in the U.S., follow these tips to make an informed decision on a university.
Are you an international student looking for the right fit? Consider attending Northeastern University. Contact our Office of Global Services to learn more.