The choice to study in the United States can be extremely expensive and in some cases prohibitively expensive for foreign students. Domestic students have the choice of going to a state university, where the tuition is lower for state residents, or going to a private institution, where everyone pays the same high tuition fees. For foreign students, it doesn’t matter where they go because the tuition is going to be high in most cases. The reasons for studying in the United States therefore needs to be grounded in more than just the chance to have a fun time.
Having said that, there are scholarship opportunities for the best and brightest. For those who can demonstrate exceptional abilities, there are PhD programs that offer free tuition and stipends for accepted candidates. At the master’s and undergrad levels, there are still some opportunities to earn full scholarships. For example, music schools such as Berklee College of Music offer “Presidential scholarships,” which are full tuition and room and board scholarships for four people each year. Another opportunity is the athletic scholarships for football players and other athletes who can help a college win games. Those scholarships are typically very generous as well. Additionally, there are probably programs in your home country that may enable you to study in the U.S. without going bankrupt.
The advantages of going to school in the United States are not necessarily in the degree itself or in the actual information obtained from classes. The main advantage in going to university in the United States is the networking opportunities. For the most part, the information can be found in other places and the value of the degree is not worth much more than one from another country such as Canada or England. That is, unless you’re going to an ivy league school such as Harvard or Yale.
So why is the networking great in the U.S.? For one thing, people from all over the world study in the United States, especially in the universities. The actual foreign population will vary from school to school but if you are in a city or a well-known university, there will probably be a good number of foreign students there. If you go to M.I.T. for example, you will notice that a lot of Asians go to school there. The networking opportunities will be extremely valuable if you decide on going for an international career after you graduate. Even if you do not work in many different countries, getting to know students from different cultures will develop your cultural intelligence. With businesses becoming more globalized, this will probably be a competitive advantage for most people no matter where they end up working.
The other advantage to studying in the U.S. is that American schools are magnets for the best scholars. This means that schools have the financial means to offer generous salaries to attract the best scholars from all over the world. At the best universities, you will notice that the professors are from very diverse backgrounds. The networking advantages of going to American universities is not only in meeting other foreign students but also in meeting and studying with some of the best scholars in the world. The diversity of the professors can also potentially mean that they can lead you to opportunities in other parts of the world.
And finally, for those students who have the financial means to go anywhere, there are “party schools” in the United States, too. Those universities are the ones known for great parties and debauchery every weekend and perhaps on week nights, too. It might not be helpful for your career but if you want four years of fun, there are places in the United States that can accommodate you. For more on this, you might want to read a book called “My Freshman Year,” by Rebekah Nathan, a professor who pretended to be a student and wrote about it. She interviewed some foreign students for her book and it might be interesting to read those comments before deciding to study in the U.S.