Each year in the United States, millions of students leave home for college. Some opt to stay closer to home, while some move across the country. Thousands of others travel upwards of 5,000 miles in pursuit of a college education.
The United States has long been the most popular destination for foreign students seeking a college degree. According to the Institute of International Education’s report last year, a total of 564,776 international students enrolled in American colleges and universities. The report also stated that Cornell is ranked thirteenth nationally in terms of foreign enrollment and second to Columbia in the Ivy League. Among Cornell’s total international student enrollment of 3,224,16.4 percent of the total student population, 115 nations are represented.
Foreign students seem to be attracted to Cornell because it is “an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”
Arzika Illo ’07 of Niger said that he came to Cornell because of its student diversity and wide range of available courses.
“It’s nice to know that we can learn just about anything and meet people from places we’ve never even heard of before. Also, as an engineer, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn about the latest technology not yet available in Niger.”
Ashish Bajracharya grad of Nepal said that the worldwide academic reputation was a major draw in his decision to study at Cornell.
“Most international students come to Cornell mainly for its academic reputation in many areas that are popular [to] foreign nationals, such as engineering, agriculture and the social sciences such as economics and rural sociology,” he said.
When graduation approaches, international students are faced with the question of moving back to their native countries or staying in the United States. Many international Cornellians expressed desire to gain work experience in the U.S. before eventually returning home to put their American education to use.
“I plan to further my education with a master’s degree, and then work in the U.S. and/or Europe for awhile. Ultimately, I want to go back to Niger and use some of my skills to start a business, get involved politically and teach,” said Illo.
Serena Cheung ’09 of Hong Kong also plans to obtain work experience before returning home. “I’d like to work in the U.S. for a few years, then go back to Hong Kong to pursue a career in business,” she said.
Bajracharya said that he would also like to return home eventually to work in the development sector in South Asia.
“I think the experience that I would gain by working here immediately after the completion of my degree is quite valuable and it can actually be more advantageous in the long run if I decide to work back home,” he said.
The transplant of a Cornell education abroad has proven to be a success. Brendan O’Brien, director of International Students and Scholars, said that successful Cornell alumni can be found in nearly every country in the world.
“International students bring great talents, skills and perspectives to Cornell,” O’Brien said. “The experience of working together with students from all over the world helps our graduates be prepared to succeed in whatever career path they choose.”