The number of international students at U.S. universities is at an all-time high while the number of Americans studying abroad is increasing almost as dramatically.
The latest Open Doors survey of international enrollments and American study abroad participation found that international enrollment has increased 7.2 percent in 2012-13 from the previous year with a total of 819,644 foreign students. Americans studying abroad totaled 283,332 students in 2011-12, representing a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year.
TCU is following this trend as more students are studying abroad than ever before. However, the number of international students enrolled at the university has remained somewhat stagnant.
International Enrollment at TCU
Over the past five years, foreign student enrollment at TCU has hovered around five percent as the number of international students has grown modestly in correlation to the increase in the overall student population, according to TCU’s office of institutional research.
Click here for a look at what states and institutions are leading in international enrollment
Karen Scott, director of international admission for the university, said increasing the number of foreign students, especially from underrepresented countries, is a main priority for TCU.
“We would like to expand; we definitely want more international students at TCU,” she said. “We want diversity within the international community as well.”
In order to promote this expansion, this past summer the admissions office assigned Beatriz Gutierrez, who was already an admissions counselor at TCU, to help Scott with international admission.
This addition allowed for more trips to foreign countries, which is the best way to attract international applicants to TCU, Scott said. She said this allowed TCU to build relationships with the students’ international high school counselors.
And while the university has had trouble attracting European and Middle Eastern students, TCU has had success targeting Central America, in large part because of the relationships Scott has built on her annual trips to the region.
“We do target Central America in particular,” Scott said. “They know TCU, they like us and so that certainly has helped.”
Federico Garcia-Prieto, a junior supply chain and entrepreneurial management double major, met Scott during one of her recruiting trips to his native country of El Salvador.
“She gave a presentation about TCU, and I instantly loved it,” he said.
Garcia-Prieto, whose uncle and cousin both studied at TCU, said it is a privilege for people from El Salvador to come study in the U.S., and he plans on taking advantage of it so he can go home and share his experience and knowledge.
For Carlos Quijano, a junior supply chain management major from Panama, a U.S. education means better opportunities and connections for his future.
“Colleges in Panama are not as complete as in the U.S.,” he said.
Giuseppe Cassino, a junior economics major, said he had the same reasons for leaving his native country of Panama.
“The education here in the U.S. is better than in Central America and Latin American countries,” he said.
For many foreign students, American universities provide them with the best and possibly only option for higher education.
John Singleton, director of international services at TCU, said, “Only about seven percent of the planet has access to higher education, which leaves about 93 percent of seven billion people left without any education.”
And while these students are gaining a from a TCU education, the university is benefiting as well.
These international students give back to the university by adding to the global community that both Singleton and Scott strive to enhance at TCU.
“We feel like we need to prepare students to work in a global marketplace,” Scott said. “Everything is international now.”
Study Abroad Through TCU
The other main component increasing the global community on campus is a rise in study abroad participation among TCU students.
This coming spring semester, TCU is sending 110 students abroad, the most the university has ever sent, said Jesica Severson, study abroad coordinator.
Severson also said the summer study abroad programs are expected to see the highest enrollment in the University’s history for summer 2014.
All TCU study abroad programs, especially in the past two years, have had large increases in student participation, according to the Center for International Studies.
“There is more emphasis than ever on the importance of exposing yourself to other cultures, countries and people,” Severson said. “Internationalizing not only yourself but also your resume.”
Rachel Jenkins, a senior geography and anthropology double major, spent last fall in Florence, Italy, the most popular TCU study abroad destination.
“My experience was great,” she said. “There was just so many different opportunities to gain knowledge about the people and the country that I was in.”
Jenkins said she would strongly recommend study abroad to every college student.
“I think it’s really essential to branch out and become a little more independent,” she said. “I think that everyone that ever goes to college needs to study abroad.”
Monica Wischmeyer, a junior nursing major, spent last fall in Seville, Spain.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” she said. “I met some of the coolest people, studied at a school with other international students, and my favorite part was staying with the host family.”
Rachel Causey, a senior English major, spent a semester in Nantes, France learning the French language and culture.
“It’s one of the best things I think I’ve done here at TCU because it opens up your borders so much and pushes you to grow as a person,” she said.
“I learned more in that semester than I have throughout my whole four years here at TCU.”