About Me

My name is Spencer. I'm 23 years old, and I'm a junior at Princeton. So far college has taken me five years. I've taken time off to work, transferred to USC and come back, and learned a lot along the way.

I like to think about life and what I'm going to do with mine.

I've met a lot of people my age with the same sorts of thoughts so feel free to read, take surveys, and comment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

International Students: Pros & Cons

Regardless of my opinion, there has to be some benefits as well as ramifications when it comes to the sheer number of international students that attend university here in the United States.

Let's start out easy with the pros. For one, it's a chance to meet new and interesting people. I'm not saying that Americans are dull or uninteresting, rather, meeting and getting to know someone from a different culture and language background gives you a whole different experience. In fact, I have a number of foreign friends that I met in college last year and learned quite a lot from. Secondly, no matter whether you've been all around the world or no farther than 10 miles from your hometown, it's always a good thing to learn about other people's culture. It makes us more accepting of traditions and other such cultural quirks that we don't understand. It also makes us more tolerant and open to new situations and undiscovered ideas. Through this greater worldliness, we can all, perhaps not quite learn to accept, but at least learn to be tolerant of everybody regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, illness, religion, class, and culture, etc. Thirdly, we also give them a huge cultural experience to bring back home. The United States is one of the most diverse places on Earth and sharing our college experiences with foreigners exposes them to new cultures, a new level of diversity, and a new level of free thinking to bring back home. Finally, they bring money. Pure and simple, they are bringing foreign money to our economy.

Now come the cons, which are much more under the radar than the pros. In fact, many people don't look at international students as anything but good additions to our universities. It just so happens that many of those people are in college admissions offices looking over our applications. Like I've said before, colleges seek diversity. They will always accept students from all 50 states and as many countries as they can. As long as you're a good enough student (barring athletes, the extremely, extremely wealthy, and famous as exceptions) or have a good enough GPA, you have a chance. Unfortunately, being the only person who applies to any school (especially the top tier schools such as Ivies) from your country and/or state gives you quite the advantage.

For arguments sake, let's see why having so many foreign students can be hazardous to us.

For starters, they greatly increase the applicant pool; however, it isn't as simple as that. Not only do they decrease everyone's chances by simple math, but many schools also crave foreign students from many different nations. In fact, they possibly receive a slight edge over Americans because of this. Secondly, this country has proposed and passed many diversity programs to help American citizens who aren't as fortunate as others. Largely, these programs are race and class related such as Affirmative Action, and in principle, I am a big fan of these kinds of programs; however, admissions boards have perverted the core ideas and only made it even more difficult for all American applicants.

To make my explanation short and sweet, an African is not an African-American, a Latino is not a Latino-American, an Asian is not an Asian-American... by accepting more and more foreign students, college admissions officers let those diversity spots go to non-Americans, who were NOT the original beneficiaries of these diversity programs. Furthermore, seeing as Asian-Americans are no longer deemed minorities when it comes to college applications, the overwhelming number of students from across the Pacific makes it probably most competitive for Asian-Americans applicants. Nowadays, colleges look at foreign Asians as minorities, while Asian-Americans are seen as a majority. At least we can take solace in the fact that admissions officers still see African-Americans and Latino-Americans as minorities despite the large amounts of their foreign counterparts. At least those two groups still have a shot at those diversity spots.

Lastly, I want to bring up money. Based on personal experience and the fact that it's expensive travelling across the world multiple times during the year, getting a Visa, attending college, and the list goes on and on, foreign students must at least have some money. I don't think that it's quite possible to attend college in the United States as a poor foreigner. So, not only do admissions offices give our diversity program spots away to foreigners, but they're also giving the spots to students from well to do families (Keep in mind that this is a generalization based on how expensive travel across the world is, how strong the U.S. Dollar is in comparison to many other currencies, and how difficult it is to get a Visa for entry into the United States etc).

Additionally, unlike foreign countries, our better colleges are privately owned institutions with generally very large endowments. Although the income is good for our economy as a whole no matter where it goes, it would be of even greater help to our current financial situation if those colleges were public. That way the money could feed back into the system as opposed to sitting in Harvard's stock portfolio.

In my opinion, if colleges refuse to tone down the number of foreign applicants, then we might as well simply boost our economy even more and charge a premium to non-United States citizens. I know for a fact that many other countries charge a lot more for foreigners to attend their institutions, whereas we charge the same amount and sometimes even give financial aid.

All in all, I think it really just depends on what you value more: a more cultural college experience or an easing of the applicant pool with a larger percentage of Americans going to better colleges.

And yes, I know that contrasting "diversity" with "foreigners" is an oxymoron, but I'm looking at diversity within America. We have tons of it, and these programs were created to help exactly that, Americans.

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