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International Student's Guide to American Colleges: Part One

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Out of all the universities and institutions around the world, U.S. colleges maintain their place as an object of highest pursuit by international students. According to an annual report called Open Doors, published by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the number of international students attending college on U.S. soil has increased 7% in the 2007/2008 school year bringing the record breaking number of student to 623,805.

Why the American Institution?

The growing trend of international students enrolling in American colleges reflects supremacy of higher education and job economy in the U.S in comparison to the foreign alternative. There are greater opportunities for internships and future job placement, and the United States offers a wider variety of career opportunities.

“In today’s competitive international environment, the increase in enrollments noted in this year’s Open Doors data demonstrates again that the U.S. remains the premier destination for international students. U.S. higher education is unparalleled in its vitality, quality, and diversity. The U.S. government joins the U.S. higher education community in a commitment to welcome international students to the United States. As someone who graduated from an American university as an international student, I have experienced America’s welcome personally and can testify that America’s universities not only accept and welcome international students warmly, but transform their lives.” -Goli Ameri, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (Open Doors 2008, IIE)

Because of this surge in enrollment of foreigners, the United States Department of Education has taken intentional measures to accommodate international students interested in attending U.S. colleges by providing ways that students and families can gain knowledge about the benefits of an American education.

“The steady increase in the number of international students in the United States reflects actions taken by the U.S. government and many individual colleges and universities to ensure that international students know they are welcome here, and that we appreciate how they contribute to the intellectual and cultural environment on campus and in the wider community. Furthering academic exchange – in both directions – is one of the best investments that we can make to strengthen U.S. higher education and research activities and foster cross-border collaboration on shared global problems such as fighting disease, protecting the environment, and countering terrorism.” -Allen E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education (Open Doors 2008, IIE)

Process of Application

If an international student is interested in attending an American school, there is a lengthy “to-do” checklist that he or she must tend to:

1. Apply to the school of choice. There are many schools in the U.S. Some schools may have more appeal than others. It may behoove you to do a little research about the school you are interested in. Most American schools have quotas for international student enrollments that they are to meet, which is a benefit in the application process.

Schools hosting highest percentage of international students

2. Upon acceptance, the school will require proof of financing or adequate income from the person responsible for paying tuition before the government issues I-20 documentation. (NOTE: International students do not receive school loans for American institutions. It is wise for the student to have a plan of payment secured before applying. Also, scholarships are commonly available to international students in need of financing. Be sure to research what scholarships would be procurable.)

3. Once a proof of tuition is given to the school, they will provide the student a I-20 certificate of eligibility which needs to be completed and signed by both the student and the school. Additionally, the student must fill out and sign a Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS- 156.

The student must then register in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The student is to then to meet with the embassy consular who will issue a visa. (NOTE: Most visas require a yearly renewal.)

For more details and form info, Student Visa Information


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