International students seek American schools

How does it feel to go to school in a foreign country?

Today, students from every continent but Antarctica travel to the U.S. in search of a college degree. They have found answers to this question.

“There are a lot of differences,” said junior Lesley Manuh. “There’s a more rigorous curriculum back home, and you’re required to do a lot more. It’s more flexible here.”

It makes sense that there would be differences, given the wide spread of countries that international students travel from. According to the Institute of International Education, 13,770 international students came to study in North Carolina last year. That’s a 7.4 percent increase from 2011.

Many associate this trend with the increased efforts of American colleges and universities to attract international students.

“The world we live in is shrinking,” said Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Andy Strickler. “For an American college or university, one of the most successful ways to create a classroom of the world is to integrate international students into the student body.”

Guilford has experienced growth in international enrollment as well. Unlike what is the case with most other private colleges, there is no particular country that an overwhelming majority of Guilford’s international students can be traced to.

“Guilford is unique in that we span the globe in terms of where our international students come from,” said Daniel Diaz, international student advisor and assistant director of study abroad. “We’re not really heavy-handed in one country or another.”

Despite Guilford’s even-handedness, the increase in foreign enrollment nonetheless contributes to the nationwide influx of international students and hence raises questions.

Do international applicants pose unfair competition for domestic students?

When seats are reserved for internationals at private institutions, are they stolen from other students?

Director of Study Abroad and Professor of Theater Studies Jack Zerbe does not think so.

“Most colleges right now are experiencing a decline in enrollment, so this idea that there’s competition for seats is a myth,” said Zerbe. “Many colleges are looking to increase the international population to make up for declining nationwide domestic enrollments. There’s no competition; there’s no setting one population against the other. It’s a win-win.”

That win-win attitude is reflected by students, both local and international.

“It was fun for me to show off a little bit of my culture, and Guilford encouraged it,” said Hien Morris ‘12, an international student from Vietnam. “They wanted to learn, they wanted to know about it, but they didn’t put pressure on me to show.”

Domestic junior D’vorah Nadel agrees with Morris’ view of Guilford’s affinity for cultural diversity.

“I think (Guilford) could be more diverse than it is because it’s still predominantly white middle class,” said Nadel.

“Embracing different cultures is part of Guilford’s core values, so that’s a good thing to strive for.”