international

The number of International students attending universities in the U.S. dropped 6 percent from 2000 to 2012. | Courtesy of Westminster College 

While the rest of her classmates were searching for colleges in the United Kingdom, Wharton freshman Pearl Banjurtrungkajorn, a student at Shrewsbury International School in Thailand, decided to forge her own path and come to an American school — Penn.

According to a recent study, however, students like Banjurtrungkajorn are becoming less common.

New research from the U.K. Higher Education International Unit shows that in the last decade, the number of international students going to college in the United States has dropped by over 6 percent. The study revealed that in 2000, about 22.8 percent of international students headed to college in the States, but in 2012, the number had decreased to 16.4 percent.

While the United States as a whole may have seen a decrease in international students, Penn has not. In fact, over the past 10 years, international students have consistently made up between 11 and 13 percent of the admitted class.

Penn has actually seen an increase in the range of countries from which students are applying in the past 15 years; international students at Penn represented only 66 foreign countries in the Class of 2005 while in the Class of 2019, international students come from 84 different countries.

Banjurtrungkajorn’s choice to come to the United States was particularly unusual given that she went to a British international school, so all of her schooling had been compatible with the U.K. education system, and not the U.S. one. But Banjurtrungkajorn decided that she wanted to come to Penn because she saw more social opportunities here than at university in the UK.

“I decided to come to the United States and specifically Penn because there were a lot of opportunities to do research and hands on community service,” Banjurtrungkajorn said. “You can’t really do that in a school in the UK because they’re more focused on studies, grades and getting your degree over.”

College freshman Yoon Joo Kim had the opposite experience. She went to an American international school in Korea that was in the Advanced Placement program, so the majority of her peers were focused on going to the U.S. for college.

“People that went to college in Korea or the U.K. were the minority,” Kim said. “I only know about five or six people in a class of a couple hundred people.”

Kim said she chose to come to the U.S. because most people around her were going to the States, and she had chosen Penn because she liked the balance of the culture.

“My sister went to college in the United States as well,” Kim said. “So it just made sense for me and my parents.”

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