A significant number of students come to the United States every year to study in American schools. How well do they do? How does cultural shock affect them? What is the benefit to the American schools of international student attendance?
According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the “Shanghai Ranking“), the US is home 52 of the top 100 universities in the world. This is one of the reasons more than a million students from across the world are accepted by American Universities every year.
International Student Influx.
There is also an increasing number of foreign students in American high schools. A study from the Institute of International Education found that the number of international students in American high schools more than tripled between 2004 and 2016 (and began to slow after).
They come to the United States on the basis of longer-term F-1 visas and shorter-term cultural exchange program J-1 visas. Nearly three-quarters of the international students intend to earn an American high school diploma through the F-1 visa program. Of those on F-1 visas, almost all (94 percent) attend private high schools. The report’s author, Christine Farrugia, argues that the growth in F-1 Visa based diploma-seeking foreign students is directed at feeding admission to American post-secondary education. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of the F-1 students are from China and South Korea and from families with the means to pay for international education. F-1 students can, in fact, attend American public high schools but are expected to pay full tuition which ranges between $15,000 and $30,000 per year.
Challenges They Face in American Schools.
Perhaps the subtlest problem suffered by international students in the United States is “culture shock.” Although the United States is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, there is a dominant culture which affects the ability of international students to feel comfortable in their daily lives. International students tend to seek those of their own culture and move within those cultural groups. For some cultural groups, the prevailing culture of the United States is very different from their own. The relationship between student and teacher might appear much more informal, and therefore risky compared with the structured atmosphere of learning in many schools in Asia.
Language learning is a barrier for many international students. In spite of the fact that English is taught in many school systems throughout the world, the level of language acquisition is often primitive and incomplete. Students are being admitted to North American schools without good English, say professors at the University of Regina. Many international students tend to write papers in their native language then translate them to English when passing them in with less than perfect English syntax. Imperfect English language skills are a barrier to education. Students are advised to study English to perfect their skills in reading, writing and speaking before attempting to study in the US.
Financial pressures are another significant barrier for international students. Tuition fees for both secondary and post-secondary education for international students can be high. Even at the secondary school level. F-1 students can, in fact, attend American public high schools but are required to pay full tuition which ranges between $15,000 and $30,000 per year. The rate of currency exchange with the United States reduces the value of many Asian currencies causing problems for all but the wealthiest students. International students are not eligible for student loans unless they have a United States citizen to co-sign them.
The Value of International Students in American Schools.
International students foster a diverse school environment even with all the culture shock they experience. They can provide a cultural context for what is taught. Many schools regard the recruitment of international students as a significant opportunity. The continued growth in international student populations has had a positive effect on the American economy, valued at $42 billion a year (according to the Department of Commerce).
The Tenney School promotes one-to-one learning and the acquisition of positive attitudes, advanced knowledge, and skills for success. The small school structure has particular value for international students. Please contact us to learn more.