Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Top 10 States Hosting International Students: No. 5, Illinois

The Chicago skyline.
By Brendan Twist
World Education Services

If WES Student Advisor has learned anything from putting together this top 10 series, it’s that there’s a whole lot of international students in the Midwestern United States. Last year, more than 200,000 international students attended school in the 12 states that makeup the Midwest. And the Midwestern state with the most international students? Illinois.

Like its brethren in America’s heartland, Illinois’s geography is dominated by meadows and plains. Unlike its neighbors, however, it is home to one of the world’s biggest cities: Chicago. Known for deep-dish pizza and really strange hot dogs, the Chicago Bulls basketball team (they won six championships with Michael Jordan) and the Chicago Cubs baseball team (they never win anything), the musical tastemakers at Pitchfork Media and the comedians at Second City, the Windy City is the third-biggest metropolis in the U.S. It’s also home to – wait for it – some really great universities!

The number of international students in Illinois continues to increase rapidly, up more than 35 percent over the past four years (the national increase was about 28 percent over that span).

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne – a public institution located a two-hour drive south of Chicago – enrolls the most international students in the state, and in 2013-2014 it ranked third in the entire country in that category. The university has a robust operation in place for foreign students – broadly called Illinois International – and offers tons of academic, career, and social/cultural adjustment resources tailored specifically to the international student community. The school also hosts dozens of international student organizations, from the Bangladeshi Student Association and the Sri Lankan Society, to the Australian Student Organization and the Baltic Club.

Northwestern University in Evanston (considered by many to rival the Ivy League schools academically) and a trio of city schools – the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago – round out the top five most popular schools in the state among international students.

Just over half of Illinois’s international students hail from China and India – higher than the national average, but not by much. South Korean, Saudi Arabian and Taiwanese students make up another 15 percent.

There's a lot of great culture and education to be had in Illinois – the Corn State, the Garden of the West, the home of Abraham Lincoln. So don’t call it a flyover state! Have you ever been to Chicago, or anywhere else in the state of Illinois? Let us know in the comments.

The Illinois State capitol in downtown Springfield.

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