Columns, Opinion

SARNA: International enrollment on rise

Take a stroll down a university campus and you’ll find yourself looking at a different international face every three to four minutes. This may vary in accuracy as you move from highly populated schools in large cities to less recognizable ones nestled in smaller towns.

An annual study conducted by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State released findings Monday that showed a huge escalation in the number of international students coming to the United States to further their education. While the number of international students has been growing since 2005, it has increased by a large margin in the past ten years.

An interesting fact came through in a report compiled by the Institute of International Education. While India sent the most students to the United States from 2005 to 2009, China overtook India for the next five years. And even though most international students came from China last year, the spike in the growth of total international students can be attributed to the increase in Indian students coming to America.

As an international junior, I have definitely noticed an increase in the number of Indian students applying to the United States for their undergraduate degree from the number that applied during my year. Further, my brother graduated from Emory University in 2012, which gives me more basis of comparison to hold the numbers up against. Back in his day, the buzz about pursuing a collegiate degree in America was not as strong as it is today. One’s family was considered rather courageous and bold if they wanted their child to study abroad.

Don’t get me wrong — the means and technology were all in place. It was just the mindset that was beginning to change. The wheels had started to turn, but were not yet fully oiled.

Today, it’s common to prepare children early on for their four or five years in the land of opportunities. So I wonder, what changed in these last few years? The tuition and airfare are in fact more expensive than in previous years, but the distance is still the same and the quality of education back home is only improving. What, then, drives international children to leave their countries and explore the United States?

I thought long and hard about the reasoning. Gathering my personal knowledge as well as the views of my contemporaries studying abroad, I managed to piece together a somewhat convincing rationale for this phenomenon.

The first and most popular answer from parents and students alike was that the United States offers a more holistic and worldly experience than staying back home and attending a local college does. A major emphasis was put on the “living by yourself” aspect of the system. When a child moves away from 18 years of luxury and dependence on their family, they learn how to handle situations and themselves much better. By default, you leave home to become wiser and more mature.

A second line of thought from those I asked enforced the notion that studying abroad takes the child out of their comfort zone and makes them want to work harder. Staying home, one sees the same people day in and day out. This not only stunts the growth of personality and mentality, but also limits thinking and creativity. Thus, studying abroad allows for the freshness of thought and perspective.

Another interesting piece of logic sheds light on the universally accepted benefits of studying in the United States. People all over the world consider an education in this country the gateway to a successful life. It’s the stepping-stone to finding a good job, or so goes the myth.

This last reason, while not the most explicitly expressed by the masses, makes the most sense when considering that exchange rates and airfare have risen along with the numbers of international students entering the United States to further their education. This relationship can only be sensibly understood by using this last explanation.

While the above logic might have worked wonderfully in the past few years, the current generation is coming to the United States to become more independent, professional and thorough in their field of choice, so they can be more useful in their own country. After all, home is home, and one needs to leave the nest to tap into opportunities that will prove beneficial in the larger scheme of things in the future.

More Articles

Comments are closed.