Why Do International Students Come to the U.S. to Study?

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE STROME SCHOOL OF BUSINESS/ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER, OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY - Mark Strome, right, speaks with Johnn Cujardo, 19, a student at Old Dominion University. Strome participated in a panel discussion about entrepreneurship at the Diehn Center at Old Dominion University  Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, in Norfolk, Va (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for Strome School of Business/Entrepreneurial Center, Old Dominion University/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE STROME SCHOOL OF BUSINESS/ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER, OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY - Mark Strome, right, speaks with Johnn Cujardo, 19, a student at Old Dominion University. Strome participated in a panel discussion about entrepreneurship at the Diehn Center at Old Dominion University Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, in Norfolk, Va (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for Strome School of Business/Entrepreneurial Center, Old Dominion University/AP Images)

The United States is consistently the top study abroad destination for students around the world, with nearly 900,000 international students coming to the U.S. to study during the 2013-2014 school year.

But why do international students choose to come to the United States? While there are numerous different reasons, here are four of the reasons students gave us:

1. Excellent academic programs – in the U.S., there are numerous world-renowned universities and colleges that offer many different academic paths to choose from.

Kwang Yeon Lee, a student at Johns Hopkins University, came to study in the U.S from high school. He says that U.S has the strong reputation for higher education.

“There are a lot of education options here…my country doesn’t have this much educational diversity,” he said.

2. Career-minded learning opportunities – in addition to studying, many students also participate in academic clubs and professional organizations, even if they’re not directly related to their major. These clubs give students an opportunity to learn practical skills that could be use in their careers.

At Georgetown University, for example, students considering a career in journalism can join the school’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to support their interests. As a member of a professional organization, students have access to conferences, networking opportunities, and many kinds of professional experience to supplement what they learn in the classroom.

3. Specialized libraries and resources – many U.S. schools not only offer students a multitude of resources to help in their education, from books, to films, to academic journals, but offer resources that can be hard to find elsewhere.

Suk-Hwan Kang, a student at Georgetown University, said it was hard to find English books when he studied in his home country, South Korea. He couldn’t find translated or English books, which made it difficult to complete courses in his major: Western History. But, most of time in the United States, he doesn’t have any trouble finding the books he needs.

4. Advanced-level English language programs – many colleges and private English language schools provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to help students learn English.

Some international students come to the United States to take these classes and prepare themselves to enter university; others come to learn English while experiencing American life; others come to improve their English while working at an internship or job.

“Before starting my internship in the U.S, I took some language courses that helped me learn the basics of speaking, writing, reading in English” Kang Han, a student at International Language Institute in Washington D.C. “The English program was helpful to understand American culture too.”

Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University.

Jeonghyun Kim