By Shaopeng He
Student: New York University
1. America is home to the largest number of top-ranked universities. According to Times Higher Education's 2014 World Reputation Rankings, 46 American universities rank among the world’s 100 best schools. Students who want to pursue higher education may have higher quality choices if they target American universities.
2. American education is more focused on practical experience. Readings and papers are essential elements in the American education system. However, in addition to the classic “must-reads” for each discipline, most syllabi are kept up-to-date. Paper topics reflect industry trends and aim to solve problems in real-world scenarios.
3. Student visas in America allow you to work for at least one year after graduation if you apply for post-completion OPT (optional practical training). If you are a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) student, you may be eligible for two years of OPT time after graduation. Although some argue that it is hard to stay in the U.S. and get a H-1B visa after the OPT period, the one-year regulation for international students is still relatively generous compared with other popular study destinations such as the U.K.
4. There are plenty of internship opportunities that provide hands-on experience in nearly every field of study. As a full-time student, I worked part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. Full-time summer internships can often be extended to the fall semester and sometimes even guarantee a full-time position after graduation.
5. America embraces diversity. People with different backgrounds come to America and enjoy sharing their stories. You may have heard of the photoblog “Humans of New York,” which epitomizes this concept. Diversity in America is not just about showing respect for various cultural, religious, or ideological differences. It's also about immersing people in a dynamic environment while maximizing their uniqueness.
6. American education encourages students to express their own opinions. From in-class discussions to take-home papers, students are given more room to think. Classes are usually small, with fewer than 25 students, and incorporate a seminar-style teaching method that allows for discussion. One very important lesson I learned during undergraduate school is critical thinking. On top of that, my graduate study in the U.S. has showed me that my opinions can be considered as valid as those cited in a research paper.
7. American education allows for electives. No matter your major, you can always find a way to take a course in another area that interests you. This interdisciplinary flexibility gives students more room to explore possibilities they may not have otherwise considered.
8. Studying in America can give you access to a strong professional network. American schools emphasize alumni network building. Students gain access to strong alumni networks where they can meet mentors, get exposed to new job opportunities, get internal references to new job postings, or even meet their soul mates.
9. America is fun. There are many places to visit in the U.S., such as Hawaii, Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, and California. Additionally, with an F-1 student visa, you can visit Mexico without having to apply for another visa, and it is quite easy to get a visa for the Caribbean and Canada. In addition to traveling, city life is never boring, no matter whether the city you study in is big or small. Go to MeetUp.com, visit the local museum, volunteer -- life is amazing in every way.
10. Financial considerations also make America a good choice. Despite the fact that funding is limited for international students in some courses of study, U.S. universities are relatively generous in providing financial aid, especially to STEM students. Also, American schools provide many on-campus job opportunities to subsidize costs for international students.
Shaopeng is a development analyst for the Epic Foundation. With extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, both in the U.S. and China, Shaopeng is leveraging her passion for international development and education to help find innovative solutions to social problems. Shaopeng holds a master's in public administration from New York University and a B.A. in international business economics from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China.