How Do International Students Choose? New Insights Revealed

Figures and Findings

WES survey participants were asked to select the most important of four factors which influenced their decision when considering between U.S. colleges and universities: school reputation, career prospects, location and cost. Reputation came out on top with 31 percent of students citing a school’s faculty research and expertise, rankings, and peer recommendations as paramount. 

studentin sitzt am schreibtisch und arbeitet am laptop

studentin sitzt am schreibtisch und arbeitet am laptop

It was anything but a landslide, however. In fact, reputation just narrowly edged out both career prospects and cost, which claimed 30 and 29 percent of the votes, respectively.

Perhaps most surprising was location’s relatively negligible finish. A mere 10 percent of respondents cited being close to friends and family; living near a major city; being part of a community of people from home; and fun things to do in the area as reasons to choose a school.

But What About Master’s Students?

The same questions were also asked of master’s students, and their responses revealed some interesting attitudinal differences. Master’s students placed a much higher emphasis on career prospects — a full 48 percent of them cited earning potential following graduation; school reputation with potential employers; and quality of career preparation services as their reason for choosing one school or program over another.

Conversely, cost was less of a concern for master’s students — just 15 percent named it as the most important criterion when selecting where to study. However, greater funding opportunities for master’s students may be a factor in this difference.