Education draws in international students

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    Menglu Cai, an international student from China, said her family influenced her to come to the U.S. to study.

    “There is a tendency for Chinese students to study abroad. I was influenced by my aunt because she is in Sweden. I went to Sweden when I was 5, and I thought it was so cool to be in Sweden. I thought America and Sweden were the same,” Cai, a sophomore business major, said.

    Karen Scott, director of international admissions, said some people in other countries see a the education system in the U.S. as superior, which brings students to American schools.

    “Some students will see it as an opportunity. Some students feel like the U.S. offers a good life, maybe to improve their current situation. Other students come because they love the unique campus life aspect of U.S. that you can’t get in most countries,” Scott said.

    The number of international students studying in the U.S. increased almost 5 percent during the 2010-2011 academic year, according to an Institute of International Education press release. Just like Cai, 22 percent of those students are Chinese.

    The international student enrollment in Texas is up 5 percent and is No. 3 on the list of top host states.

    The number of enrolled international students at the university is also up, Scott said.

    Scott said the university advertises to potential students through international publications. She said part of her job is to travel and spread the word about the university.

    Many students choose the university by word-of-mouth, especially in Central America, Scott said. They had friends or family members who attended and loved it.

    During the 2010-2011 academic year, the number of students from China increased almost 23 percent, and China was the leading sending country, according to the IIE press release.

    The university is recommended by a program in China called Jiangsu Education Service for International Exchange, Scott said. JESIE is an agency that helps Chinese students with the college admission process.

    Scott said many students come without having seen the campus because it is too expensive to travel to visit U.S. colleges.

    The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of universities also helped with making the decision, Cai said.

    The majority of Cai’s friends from home also came to the U.S. for college, she said.

    “Sometimes you miss home, family and friends. All that you were used to before you came here,” Cai said. “Now, it is not as bad because you make friends and have school.”

    Cai said this school year, even more international students seem to be here.

    “[International students] bring fresh outlooks. They help U.S. students open their eyes to possibilities that maybe they didn’t know existed,” Scott said.