Over the years, folks have written in with comments to our posts about international applicants to U.S. universities in which they’ve argued that international applicants make it more difficult for American applicants to get into America’s most highly selective universities. Some of these folks articulate that it’s unfair these international applicants are taking away slots from deserving American applicants, that American universities should be designed — first and foremost — to educate Americans.
We at Ivy Coach wholeheartedly disagree with these assertions.
Are some of these commenters simply xenophobic? You bet. But we’re not going to challenge their arguments by appealing to their shared humanity, by expressing how universities are better off for having a diverse set of students from around the world on their campuses (they are!). We’re going to challenge their arguments by undercutting their reasoning. So let’s break this down. The underlying basis for their argument is that international students take away slots from American students. And it is true that the percentage of international students in the incoming classes at America’s most highly selective universities has increased over the last decade. So it stands to reason that if the percentage of international students increases, the percentage of American students decreases. That too is not untrue.
But what is true is that international applicants are a financial boon to America’s most highly selective universities. It is true that international applicants make it possible for low-income and middle-income American students to afford to attend our nation’s most elite universities. America’s most highly selective universities don’t often dip into their endowments to subsidize the cost of American students who need financial aid. They depend on full-paying students — as most international applicants are — to subsidize the cost of educating some of our finest American young people who, in many instances, simply can’t afford to attend a highly selective university if not for a tuition subsidy.
If our America is built on the middle class – and it is! — then international students at U.S. universities help pave the way for young people of our nation’s middle class to forge their American dreams. Ironic? Yes. True? You bet.
We’ve expressed — contrary to popular belief — that international applicants will still apply in droves to America’s most highly selective universities under President Trump. That’s right. In spite of anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposed immigration bans, Ivy Coach’s famous crystal ball predicts that our nation’s most selective universities will not experience a significant drop in international applicants. While many universities will experience drops (and some already have), these universities are simply not among our nation’s most elite institutions. Adelphi is not Harvard. Sorry, Adelphi. The young people of South Africa, China, Korea, Brazil, and everywhere in between will still wish to attend the very best universities in the world. And the very best universities in the world are right here in the United States of America.
So our counter-argument is this: International students at U.S. universities make it possible for so many American young people to attend America’s most highly selective universities. Without these international students, high-achieving American students simply wouldn’t be able to attend because of high tuition costs. As Katilin Mulhere reports for “Yahoo News” in an aptly titled piece “The Immigration Crackdown’s Surprising Victim: Your Tuition Bill,”: “If there is a noticeable drop in international enrollments, university revenue is likely to fall-and American students could face tuition increases to make up the difference.” We’d just add — to land this important point — that any tuition hike ultimately ends up precluding certain American students from matriculating to these very institutions, which is surely not in America’s interest.
We came across an editorial on a very conservative-leaning website, “Accuracy in Media,” that we figured we’d share on the pages of our college admissions blog. After all, we like to present two sides to issues and we believe that every highly selective college should seek to present both perspectives in their classrooms — and, yes, they could no doubt do a better job of presenting the conservative perspective. The piece, by Cliff Kincaid, is entitled “How About ‘America First’ for College Admissions?” and we’ve got a thing or two to say about it.
As Kincaid writes, “American high school students are losing slots to foreigners.” It’s not untrue. International students make up an increasing percentage of incoming classes at highly selective American universities. He also writes, “The foreign students are paying the full cost.” That’s also, in most cases, generally the case. International students tend (not in every case, but in most cases) to pay the full cost of tuition. And that is, in large part, because these schools need to offset the cost of the American students who need financial aid to be able to attend college. So an argument noticeably missing from Kincaid’s piece is that international students are making it possible for many American students to attend our nation’s most selective universities — likely because such a point wouldn’t serve his argument.
Oh, and we left out a number of ridiculous statements Kincaid made in his editorial — mostly because they were ridiculous. For instance, he writes, “The foreign students are paying the full cost, since money is no problem for the regimes that sponsor them.” The regimes that sponsor international students? What on earth is he talking about? By regimes, does he mean their parents? The man makes multiple references to regimes in the course of his piece, only undercutting the few valid points he raises. He also writes, “Their financial contributions do not reduce tuition for the American students lucky enough to get in.” But we beg to differ. If these American institutions didn’t have full-pay international students on their campuses, they’d — quite logically — have more American students, including more who need financial aid. So, by this very clear logic, without international students, colleges would have to raise tuition costs. International students thus do reduce potential tuition costs.
We believe that highly selective American universities can do a better job of fostering environments that support students and faculty members on both sides of the political spectrum (a.k.a., they can do a better job of welcoming conservative viewpoints). But we also believe that conservative arguments against the influx of international students to American universities should be grounded in fact rather than fiction and a love for people of all backgrounds and not xenophobia.
Have a question on international students and tuition? We’re curious to hear from you so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.
There was an excellent piece recently in “The Washington Post” by Nick Anderson entitled “Surge in foreign students may be crowding Americans out of elite colleges” that we figured we’d share. As the title implies, with the exception of right after the 9/11 attacks, the number of students from countries outside the United States applying to American colleges has been steadily climbing or, well, surging. This is particularly the case within the Ivy League.
At Yale University, international students accounted for 11% of the incoming class in 2014. And, as Anderson writes, “As Yale’s undergraduate enrollment has edged upward since 2004, foreigners have accounted for almost all of the growth, reflecting a deliberate strategy to deepen Yale’s engagement with the world.” Within the ten years between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of international students at Brown University just about doubled to 12%. And at Columbia, it surged to 15% of the incoming class. As Anderson writes, “The only Ivy League schools with single-digit international shares in 2014 were Dartmouth College (8 percent) and Cornell University (9 percent).” Interesting indeed.
Some folks have written in with Comments to our posts on the surge of international applicants to highly selective American universities over the years. These Comments have often been critical of our universities for admitting so many international applicants, students who will take up slots that American students would have otherwise filled. And we hear the concerns of these folks. But here’s what we have to say back: our American young people are better off to attend universities with fellow students who hail from around the world. That global perspective, that diversity is integral to their education. Oh, and for all of those American students seeking financial aid at America’s highly selective universities…who do you think is paying for your college education? International applicants contribute in a major way to the revenue stream of these very institutions. As Marie Antoinette once so famously said…”You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Oh wait, she just said, “Let them eat cake.” Whatever. Close enough.
There’s a terrific piece up on “Forbes” by Carter Coudriet entitled “Should U.S. Public Colleges Accept More International Students, Or Not?” As Mr. Coudriet points out, “In the 2014-2015 school year, America hosted 974,926 international students in its various colleges and universities, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. This number has climbed every year since 2006 and comprises 4.8% of students in America, up from 3.3% a decade ago.” So is international students coming to America to receive undergraduate and graduate educations a trend? You bet it is.
State universities benefit in many ways, including financially, from having international students on their campuses.
In his piece, Mr. Coudriet very astutely points out a major benefit of having international students on American public university campuses. While public universities (e.g., University of Michigan, University of Virginia, University of California, University of North Carolina, etc.) admit international students, these students — in most cases — pay the full cost of tuition. Public universities, as Thomas Jefferson intended, were designed to educate folks in their respective states — in Jefferson’s case, Virginia. But in order to help subsidize the lower cost of tuition for in-staters — and to be able to admit as many in-staters as possible — public universities often turn to full-paying international applicants. It makes financial sense. This is not to mention the not unimportant fact that international students also greatly contribute to a university’s diversity and the perspectives students can share within, and outside of, classrooms.
As Mr. Coudriet writes, “With the pressure to serve more students (and to raise their ranking in various lists), public colleges have needed to rely on tuition as a greater source of revenue. According to the College Board, in-state tuition for two-year and four-year public colleges is the highest it has ever been, both in real dollars and in 2015-adjusted dollars. Raising in-state tuition at the current rate, however, is not nearly enough, and the political ramifications for hiking public school students’ tuition is unattractive.” He’s right. Raising tuition is an unattractive alternative — especially if such can be avoided by simply offering spots to some international students. A simple, logical solution indeed!
The drawback of course is that fewer in-state students end up getting in when international students are taking up slots, although certain public universities have tried to address this conundrum in recent years after facing intense criticism (hi, University of California). But we firmly believe that public universities are better off — both financially and otherwise — for having international students on their campuses. These, after all, are global institutions and they should be educating the world’s citizens — not just the state’s.
Could foreign college applicants decline in the U.S. under President-elect Trump? There’s an interesting piece in “The New York Times” today by Nida Najar and Stephanie Saul about how students who have been considering coming to the United States for their undergraduate and graduate studies might be rethinking their plans in light of the election of Donald Trump. President-elect Trump, after all, has championed anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric during the course of his presidential campaign, and this has scared some students, among them Muslim students, away from studying in the United States.
The best universities are in the United States of America, no matter the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. International applicants will still be applying in droves to American universities under the next American president.
As reported by Najar and Saul in their piece entitled “Is It Safe? Foreign Students Consider College in Donald Trump’s U.S,” “This year, the number of international students in United States colleges surpassed one million for the first time, bringing more than $32 billion a year into the economy and infusions of money to financially struggling colleges. College admissions officials in the United States caution that it is too early to draw firm conclusions about overseas applications, because deadlines for applications are generally in January and February. But they are worried that Mr. Trump’s election as president could portend a decline in international candidates. Canadian universities have already detected a postelection surge in interest from overseas.”
Do we believe that some students will second guess or rethink their decisions to pursue their educations in the United States because of the election of Donald Trump? Yes. Do we believe that the vast majority of students will second guess or rethink their decisions to come to the U.S. for their college and graduate school educations? No. And if there end up being fewer international applicants this year because of the results of the presidential election, we anticipate the numbers will return to pre-election levels the subsequent year. The best universities in the world are in the United States. And this isn’t going to change because of the next occupant of the White House.
Update: Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania each won their games today as well over Yale University and Cornell University, respectively, joining Dartmouth College as 2015 Ivy League champions.
The team that plays with robots (in practice) to reduce concussions is changing the game of football. And today, they’re also Ivy League champions.
Congratulations to the Dartmouth College Big Green on their Ivy League football title earned this afternoon. As reported by “Dartmouth Sports,” “The 6,208 fans in attendance got to witness the first Ivy title for Dartmouth (9-1, 6-1 Ivy) since 1996 but 18th overall, more than any other school in the Ancient Eight.” The University of Pennsylvania is currently up 34-14 on Cornell University, so it looks like the Quakers will claim a share of the title too. Harvard University also will have a shot to claim a share of the Ivy League crown — though they still have work ahead of them, with The Game (Harvard vs. Yale) on their docket today. With the University of Pennsylvania’s upset over Harvard University last week, that set the stage for a chance at a three-way tie for the title.
Even though Harvard beat Dartmouth in a tightly fought contest and even though Dartmouth beat Penn, the Ivy League crown is based on record within Ivy League play alone — and not based on wins against opponents. So that’s why Dartmouth is an Ivy League champion and why Penn and Harvard can be Ivy League champions too. If you’re wondering the last time there was a three-way tie for an Ivy League football title, the year was 1982 and the champions that year were…Dartmouth, Penn, and Harvard. So not much has changed.
Princeton was leading through almost all of the game today against Dartmouth, carrying a 10-7 lead into the 4th. Dartmouth would then tie up the score, intercept a pass, and set up a Dartmouth touchdown (after a fumble on this possession that was recovered by the Big Green athlete who would score on the next possession). With the Dartmouth victory today, the Big Green maintained its stronghold on Ivy League football titles in history. Had Dartmouth lost and had Harvard won, Dartmouth and Harvard would be tied for the most Ivy League football titles in league history. But with the Dartmouth win, Dartmouth can claim this distinction on its own — whether Harvard wins later today or loses.
Note that we predicted that Dartmouth College would claim the Ivy League crown this year during the college football preseason. We may have also predicted that the Big Green would upset the Crimson, but they sure did come close in that contest in which they led the whole way — until the final thirty-eight seconds. So we’ll call it a win.
Some applicants from China to the Ivies will be getting a boost, a financial one that is. When students from countries outside of the United States — such as China and India — apply to highly selective American universities (like the Ivies), these colleges are looking for these applicants to be “full pays.” “Full pays” is college admissions lingo for not needing any financial aid to subsidize their educations. Consequently, many students who apply to American universities from countries such as China and India — and end up matriculating after earning admission — come from affluent families, families who can afford the full cost of four years of tuition at a top American university. So it’s with great pleasure that we read about the gift by Chinese real estate billionaire couple Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin. This couple recognized the value in students seeking and receiving an education in America at schools such as the Ivies and they put their proverbial money where their mouths are.
According to an article on the endowment of the Chinese couple in “The Daily Mail” written by Sadie Whitelocks, “Ivy League schools have started recruiting more economically diverse students from China after receiving multi-million dollar grants from public and private donors. Chinese billionaire real estate couple, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, gifted $100 million to top U.S. universities last year- including $10 million to Yale and $15 million to Harvard – in a bid to help poor students from their home country.” The article goes on to state, “The admissions directors at Yale and Harvard say the investment they have received will help create the diversity sought by students and faculty. ‘We want to make sure that we get the most talented students from every corner of the world, and it’s just that simple,’ Harvard Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons said.”
Ivy Coach salutes Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin for recognizing the value in an education from a highly selective university in America. We salute them for opening up opportunities to Chinese students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of tuition and, because of this, in many instances wouldn’t be granted admission. After all, as we’ve said many times on our college admissions blog and in the press, need blind admissions is a total and complete farce. Don’t believe us? Don’t want to? That’s fine. It doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
For years, the University of Southern California has claimed the title of enrolling the most international students. The streak lasted thirteen years. But that streak is over. This past academic year, New York University enrolled more international students than the University of Southern California. 10,900 international students were enrolled at USC this past academic year — even an increase from the previous academic year — as compared to 11,100 foreign-born students at NYU. NYU has indeed toppled Goliath.
According to an article on NYU and international applicants in “The LA Times,” “‘Both institutions remain hugely attractive to international students, with some preferring the West Coast and the strengths of USC, and others finding NYC and NYU more appealing,’ said Peggy Blumenthal, the senior counselor to the president for the group…The number of international students in U.S. colleges and universities increased about 8% last year to nearly 886,000. China sent the largest group, with about 274,000 students, more than double the number of students from India, the second biggest group. Foreign students make up about 4% of all higher-education undergraduates and graduates in the U.S., according to the survey. More colleges and universities nationwide have come to depend on Chinese students, who generally pay full tuition, as a way to help boost their budgets during tough economic times.”
That’s precisely right. If you’re applying to an institution such as USC or NYU — or any highly selective college as an international applicant — it is imperative that you be able to pay the full cost of tuition. That, after all, is the great benefit of international applicants to these colleges…they are full-pays. They offset so many of the students who need financial aid to cover the cost of college tuition. It’s further evidence that highly selective colleges, as we’ve said for years, are by no means need-blind. Need-blind admissions is a farce. A total and complete farce.
There is an article in “The Times of India” that we found interesting entitled “Chinese outstrip Indians in Ivy League” and we figured we’d share it with our loyal readers. Written by Hemali Chhapia Shah, the article cites how the number of Chinese students on Ivy League campuses has risen over the year, while the number of Indian students has more or less remained stagnant. In this piece, when we refer to Indian and Chinese students, we are referring to students from China and India — not Chinese Americans and Indian Americans.
According to the article, “While the share of Chinese students on the elite and exclusive club of Ivy League campuses has risen steadily over the last decade (2003-13), the rise in the number of Indians has been marginal. In 2013, Chinese (8,549) made up an impressive 27% of the population at the Ivies in 2013, while Indians (3,064) comprised about 9.7% of all international students at the colleges. Over the last decade, the Chinese have improved their share three-fold, whether in undergraduate programmes, graduate schools or non-degree courses. In comparison, the number of Indians has inched up gradually, from 7.9%.” In fact, in 2003, there were 1,260 Indian students on the eight Ivy League campuses. In 2008, that figure stood at 2,460 students. In 2013, as previously stated but so we nail the point home, there were 3,064 Indian students on the eight Ivy League campuses. As for the Chinese, in 2003, the figure stood at 2,229. In 2008, it stood at 3,643. In 2013, it skyrocketed to 8,549 students.
That’s a major difference…wouldn’t you say? We at Ivy Coach of course work with many students in China and India every year to help them gain admission to the eight Ivy League institutions. The competition for admission to the Ivies is fierce — particularly in India and China — and these students face discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process. It’s unfortunate. But it’s a reality. We help our students overcome this discrimination. It’s part of our secret sauce.
There is a fantastic editorial in “The New York Times” entitled “Getting Into the Ivies” by David Leonhardt that is worthy of discussion. In his piece on getting into the Ivies, Leonhardt writes that getting admitted to Ivy League schools has gotten more difficult since folks in their 40’s and 50’s applied. We at Ivy Coach have always stressed that it’s no harder to get into, say, Harvard this year as opposed to last year in spite of a marginal decline in the admissions rate. As we always say, schools like Harvard encouraging ‘C’ students to apply to lower their admission rate (the more students that apply, the more they can deny) does not make it more difficult for a talented ‘A’ student to gain admission. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences in the difficulty of getting into the Ivies over the last couple of decades. There certainly are!
As articulated in Leonhardt’s piece on the Ivies, it has gotten more difficult for American students to get into the Ivies over the years because the Ivies have vastly expanded their footprint overseas. Writes Leonhardt, “Population growth plays a role, but the number of teenagers is not too much higher than it was 30 years ago, when the youngest baby boomers were still applying to college. And while many more Americans attend college than in the past, most of the growth has occurred at colleges with relatively few resources and high dropout rates, which bear little resemblance to the elites. So what else is going on? One overlooked factor is that top colleges are admitting fewer American students than they did a generation ago. Colleges have globalized over that time, deliberately increasing the share of their student bodies that come from overseas and leaving fewer slots for applicants from the United States.”
And let’s not forget that most students matriculating to U.S. colleges who hail from countries not named the United States of America pay full tuition. Admission for these foreign applicants is certainly not need-blind! According to the pice in “The New York Times,” the percentage of American students at Harvard has declined 27% from 1994 to 2012. That statistic is 24% for Yale and Dartmouth, 19% for Brown and Cornell, 18% at Amherst, 17% at Stanford, 14% at Princeton, 9% at Tufts, and 2% at Columbia to give you a few examples at highly selective colleges.
While you’re here, check out our compiled Ivy League Admission Statistics.