America


US sees growth of international students seeking high school diplomas

by Ray Clancy on August 28, 2015

It is well known that the United States attracts lots of international students, but the country’s high schools are also proving popular as they are regarded by expat families in particular as a preparation route.

It is estimated that almost one million international students are now beginning the new academic year at a US college or university, but there is also over 75,000 overseas pupils getting ready for the high school year.

FOREIGNstudentAccording to a report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), the presence of diploma seeking international students in high schools is beginning to shift the landscape of international student recruitment for US colleges and universities.

Many US higher education institutions are seeing more international undergraduate applicants who are already in the United States as a high school student and numbers more than tripled from 2004 to 2013.

While there is every indication that this growth will continue, for every one diploma seeking student at a US high school, there are still seven international undergraduates, meaning that international applicants from outside the United States will continue to make up the bulk of international applicants for some time to come.

Students perceive an admissions advantage to earning a US high school diploma. They believe that obtaining academic, language, and cultural skills in the United States during high school will set them apart from other international students when they apply to a US college or university.

The report suggests that while this is often the case, there is wide variation among students. Some international graduates from US high schools may still face language or academic challenges. Highly successful graduates may have struggled early on when transitioning to their US high school and their transcripts may reflect these struggles, as well as their successes in overcoming challenges.

There is also limited diversity among diploma seeking international students in high schools, according to the IIE. About 75% of international students seeking diplomas at US high schools are from Asia, primarily from China, as well as South Korea. There are much smaller numbers of diploma seeking high school students from Latin America and Europe, and hardly any from Sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East.

Their economic diversity is also limited, with most coming from families with the means to pay for their children’s education abroad. Scholarships are rarely available for international students at the secondary level.

The report points out that international students in high schools have unique support needs during the higher education application process. They often feel pressure from their families to excel academically and get into the highest ranked college possible, while their high school counsellors may encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities to become well rounded students and to apply to a college that is a good fit, regardless of rankings.

During the course of their recruitment and outreach activities, college and university admissions staff are interacting with international students who are already in the United States and they need to be prepared accordingly. The institute says there is a need for cross training and collaboration among admissions team members focused on international and domestic admissions.

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