The Institute of International Education (IIE) has stated that around one million international students are coming to the U.S. to study every year, contributing almost $31 billion to the American economy (academic year 2015/16). Many students from abroad have a part-time job to help fund their education.
Ever since 1919, the IIE has been conducting a census of international students in America on an annual basis. Since 1954, the institution’s report is known as the Open Doors Report. The report is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and it offers detailed data about matters such as the flows of students into and out of America. You can learn more about the Open Doors Report at http:/www.iie.org/opendoors.
Throughout the decades, almost 60% of international students have been coming from countries like India, China, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, but recently, we have seen increasingly more students from Eastern Europe. We talked with Maciej Dziedzic, the Managing Director of the Swan School, located in Warsaw, Poland, about the reasons why Polish students increasingly choose U.S. Universities to further their education.
WHY DO POLISH STUDENTS WANT TO STUDY IN THE U.S.?
First of all, a diploma from a well-reputed American University is a great stepping stone towards a successful future. Another reason lies in the flexibility to arrange their study path and the possibility of general study for nearly two years without having to choose a specialization. This allows students to take a mature decision about the direction that they really want to study.
Additionally, in the United States, there is the possibility of interdisciplinary education – students choose a specialization for their major, but can also choose a completely different specialty for their minor. Another important reason is that an international study trip in the United States offers the Polish students the opportunity to find themselves in completely new surroundings and discover themselves again – new friends, new community, new culture.
WHAT KIND OF STUDIES THEY ARE POPULAR?
Across the board, the most popular universities are, understandably, those found in the nation’s Top 10 of academic institutions, including the Ivy League schools. These universities work as magnets, regardless of the study directions, but clever students choose also less famous universities that may rank a little lower but offer academic programs that are top respected across the country.
If we take look at what are the most popular directions, we see that business/economics comes first, followed closely by medicine,
engineering, and the natural sciences. Very popular are also profession-related studies including arts, fashion, design, or film production.
HOW DO STUDENTS FINANCE THEIR STUDIES?
Most students that are going to study in the United States receive financial assistance. This support is granted in line with the financial needs of the student’s family. This financial aid may be obtained as rewards for good study results that need to be substantively presented in the application process. This support comes often in the form of so-called “Scholarships”.
There are also cases in which students receive scholarships awarded for their sports scores. This happens often when a university team coach sees huge potential for them in the school’s sports teams. In that case, the students will be representing the university in contests and competitions, winning trophies. and money for the school.
There are, however, quite a few American universities that do not grant any financial assistance to Polish students. This is why it is so important to carefully select universities. Students should try to get a good impression of the possibility of scholarships at the universities they plan to apply to.
ARE POLISH STUDENTS RETURNING TO THEIR COUNTRY OR ARE THEY LOOKING
FOR WORK IN THE U.S.?
After completing their studies in the United States, students who do not have U.S. citizenship are entitled to opt for a 1-year program, which can be extended to two years. During the program, the students can work in the United States and gain first professional experience. Then their employer needs to apply for an employment visa, which is awarded at random. They can also set up their own business and pay taxes to the U.S. government, this way legalizing their stay in an individual way.
Students can also start the next stage of study and go for a graduate degree. The goals of Polish students in the U.S. are different and will depend on a person’s background and earlier professional path. You can, however, see one clear line which is that Polish students generally do not return to their country after graduating from a prestigious American university.