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.
There was a piece in “The New York Times” yesterday by Stephanie Saul that focused on the impact of the Trump presidency on the wave of international applicants coming to American universities. In the piece entitled “Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants,” Saul writes about how nearly 40% of U.S. universities — of the 250 schools reporting to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers — have indicated they’ve received fewer international applications this year, notably from the Middle East.
But as Mark Twain taught us: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.” It’s not that this figure isn’t true. We’re confident in this reporting, but the figure masks an important fact — many highly selective U.S. universities are actually reporting increases in undergraduate applicants this year rather than declines. Indeed many of these declines are the case for graduate school programs rather than for undergraduate admissions. And many of these declines are at universities that are not among the most highly selective in America.
As Saul reports, “Graduate schools appear to be feeling the worst pinch, with nearly half reporting drops. ‘Our deans describe it as a chilling effect,’ said Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools…Slumping graduate school applications can now be seen at universities ranging from giant Big Ten public universities like Ohio State and Indiana University to regional programs such as Portland State, with just over 27,000 students, including more than 1,900 international students. At Indiana University, international applications for undergraduate programs increased 6 percent, but graduate applications for some programs are posting big drops, said David Zaret, vice president for international affairs.”
Shortly after the election of President Trump, we forecasted — with the help of our famous crystal ball — that highly selective universities in the United States would not, contrary to the forecasts of many, see declines in undergraduate applications from international applicants. We forecasted that international applicant numbers would remain strong. As we await word from some of our nation’s most elite institutions on their Regular Decision admissions figures, we stand by our forecast. Yesterday’s piece in “The New York Times” focuses primarily on less selective American schools and on graduate programs. Let’s wait to see the data on international applicants coming out of America’s most highly selective universities in the weeks ahead.
Have a question about international applicant numbers? Post your question below and we’ll be sure to write back.
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.
In an article in today’s Yale Daily News, “Admissions promotes Yale abroad” international students at Yale hailing from Asia outnumber the international students hailing from Europe, Africa, and Australia combined. In terms of countries, the biggest number of international students at Yale come from Canada, followed closely by China, India, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Pakistan, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Greece, and Kenya.
As per the article, “Even countries that used to have the reputation for not being interested in studying abroad have really opened up recently,” said Jean Lee, co-director of international admissions. “It shifts and changes. Culturally the idea of staying home is stronger in some countries than others.” “Lee said international students often do not want to apply to Yale, or any college in the United States, because in their home countries, students have to begin career training at the undergraduate level in order to become a professional. Because the idea of a liberal arts education is unfamiliar, diverging from traditional paths can seem daunting to these students, she added.”
We’ll have to wait and see how these numbers are impacted by Yale’s incoming Class of 2015.
Check out the “Yale Daily News” article here.
And check out related blog posts: Ivy League international applicants for the class of 2015 and international applicants to Brown University.
This year, 14% of admitted students to Brown University hail from outside of the United States. According to “The Brown Daily Herald,” topping the list of countries from which its admitted students reside are China (57), India (34), and the United Kingdom (33). Said Brown University Dean of Admission Jon Miller, “India has replaced Canada as the second-most-represented country among admitted students. The University has increased recruiting efforts overseas in recent years, and the success of those initiatives is reflected in these numbers.”
We’ll be reporting on international student admission figures to top U.S. universities in the coming days so stay tuned.
So far, below is the current breakdown of the percentage of admitted students hailing from outside of the United States to six of the eight member colleges that comprise the Ivy League:
Brown University: 14%
Columbia University: 16%
Dartmouth College: 7%
Harvard University: 10%
University of Pennsylvania: 11%
Princeton University: 10.3%
The additional figures from the remaining Ivy League colleges are forthcoming.
A joint study by Rutgers University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences has found that the vast majority of students from India who pursue their university education in the United States choose to return to India upon the completion of their schooling. Writes S. Rajagopalan in Express Buzz, “Nearly 74 percent of the respondents plan to return to India eventually or had already done so, with most (53 percent of the whole sample) preferring to get a few years of work experience in the US prior to returning, the study noted. About 16 per cent said they were looking to find the best job, regardless of the location.”
It should be noted that this study’s sample of 1,000 respondents is only a small portion of the over 100,000 students from India studying in America’s graduate degree programs. And while President Obama may feel that “it makes no sense” to educate and train our potential competitors, we at Ivy Coach believe that it is the responsibility of America, home of the finest educational institutions in the world, to educate people from all nations.
Said President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address, “Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens…[Some] come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.” We strongly disagree. To educate the citizens of the world, to provide them with the finest education available, is to make the world a better place, a less divided place. Ivy Coach works with students in India to gain admission to the American universities of their dreams.
Brown University is making attempts to increase the support available to international students who enroll at the university. It’s often difficult for students from other parts of the world to adjust to daily life at an American university and thus Brown is undertaking initiatives to improve the available support during the transition to college, during college, and after college.
The students who are championing the initiatives to increase international student support proposed that international students be offered city tours, be assisted with setting up bank accounts and getting cell phones. During the college years of the international students, it was proposed that a language exchange program be established in which native English speakers are paired with international students so that they can both help each other learn the nuances of their respective languages. After graduation, the initiative would help in reaching out to alums around the world in the hope of increasing job finding support globally.
Check out the full article in “The Brown Daily Herald.”