Monday, January 13, 2014

What Kind of International Student are You?

A recent research report, “Student Segmentation for an Effective International Enrollment Strategy” published by World Education Services (WES) surveyed 2,992 prospective international students applying to study in the U.S. Based on the student’s responses on financial resources and academic preparedness, WES concluded that many international students have common characteristics that divide them into four segments, which are:
  1. Explorers: high financial resources and low academic preparation
  2. Highfliers: high financial resources and high academic preparedness
  3. Strivers: low financial resources and high academic preparedness
  4. Strugglers: low financial resources and low academic preparedness

International Student Segments (overall)
So what kind of international student are you? This is an important question that you should be asking yourself before applying to schools in the U.S. because it will help you understand what you need or want when studying abroad. For example, if you are lacking English language skills or academic preparation, it may be a good option for you to start at a school that provides English as a Second Language (ESL) classes along with introductory courses that will help you ease into schoolwork in the U.S. We know that every student is different so we tried to break it down by a couple of countries. Below are some of our recommendations for students from specific countries based on the report.

Student segments by country and academic level


Many Chinese students come with high financial resources and career-oriented motives for studying in the U.S. If this is you, make sure to contact career offices within the school that you intend to apply to and see what kind of career advising services they provide. It is important to check what kind of career network is strong at the school and if they provide guidance on internships and post-graduation career advice. Also, much of the information on U.S. study abroad can also be found online, such as or SinaWeibo. So make sure to utilize these great resources. 


Of the top three countries, Indian students showed the strongest academic record. However, Indian students responded with greater financial need that other surveyed countries. Therefore, Indian students needing financial assistance should seek out institutions that provide merit-based or need-based aid to international students. Also, we would recommend students looking into scholarship programs, such as Fulbright, TOEFL or local government scholarships. Indian students also have a preference for word-of-mouth information sources such as family, friends, and alumni. So, make sure to ask around and see what opportunities are available.

Saudi Arabia

Many Saudi students are coming to the U.S. on a government scholarship and tend to search for information based on the location of their prospective schools. This is a good strategy as the location of where you study can also determine the kind of people network you will build. For instance, if you are interested in Information Technology (IT) then studying somewhere near Silicon Valley may be a good option. On the other hand, if you are interested in International Politics then studying near New York where the United Nations Headquarters is may be a good option. 

Overall, the great thing to note is that studying abroad in the U.S. provides opportunities for all student segments. However, it is important that you understand your needs and wants as you contact schools and prepare applying for programs that will fit you best. Make sure to prioritize what your future goal is after graduation and aim to study for the goal. It will help you to narrow down your choices. 


Mirae Baik is a Research Associate of the Research and Advisory Services team for World Education Services in New York. She supervises WES Student Advisor, an initiative to help prospective international students find free and reliable information about studying abroad in the U.S.

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