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Many colleges take a vested interest in being able to claim that their student body is diverse. This begs the question: Do international students have a college admissions advantage in the US?

International students aren’t rare

If international students were truly unique, colleges might jump at the chance to have foreigners join their classrooms. In reality, though, the US is #1 in the world for international students! As a nation, the US accepts over 74,000 students from other countries each year.

University/School% employed within 3 months of graduationTop industry% going to top industry
Duke University, Fuqua School of Business94%Consulting30%
University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School98%Financial Services35%
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business98%Financial Services37%
Stanford University, Stanford Graduate School of Business94%Financial Services29%
Columbia University, Columbia Business School97%Financial Services40%
Yale University, Yale School of Management93%Consulting26%
Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management95%Consulting37%
Harvard University, Harvard Business School93%Financial Services33%
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ross School of Business93%Consulting34%
Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business90%Technology33%
University of California Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management90%Technology27%
University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School92%Financial Services24%
Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management92%Financial Services30%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management90%Consulting34%
Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business95%Consulting34%
Indiana University, Kelley School of Business93%Consumer Products25%
University of Maryland, Smith School of Business89%Consulting21%
Emory University, Goizueta Business School98%Consulting36%
University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business92%Technology43%
University of Virginia, Darden School of Business95%Consulting28%
University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business85%Not reportedNot reported
New York University, Stern School of Business94%Financial Services37%
University of Texas Austin, McCombs School of Business94%Technology29%
Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business91%Consulting29%
Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business91%Petroleum/Energy32%
Queen's University, Queen's Business School96%* within 6 mo.Financial Services27%
Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School97%Financial Services21%
University of Washington, Foster School of Business95%Technology37%
University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business90%Consulting24%
Western University, Ivey School of Business92%Financial Services41%
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management84%Financial Services48%
China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS)96%Financial Services22%
Singapore Management University, Chian School of Business60%* at graduationConsulting34%
Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang Business SchoolNot reportedNot reportedNot reported
National University of Singapore, NUS Business School98%Financial Services34%
Paris Tech, HEC Paris90%Industry54%
University of Oxford, Sa√Įd Business School89%Consulting21%
University of Cambridge, Judge Business School95%Consulting26%
University of London, London Business School93%Consulting32%


Applying to a college in one of these top 10 countries means two things. First, international students are certainly welcome. Second, they aren’t new. While admissions representatives won’t hesitate to accept you, your nationality alone will not get you a ticket to university.

International students have to meet certain criteria

If you’ve looked at a US college application, then you already know that international students have to prove a number of things that their peers in the US do not.

For example, they have to take the TOEFL or IELTS and show that their English is up to par. They may also have to prove that their high school diploma is equivalent to that of a US diploma– a feat that is often accomplished by participating in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

Schools in the USA stress volunteering

Another factor that you might have against you is the fact that US colleges tend to stress the importance of extracurricularsРlike sports, volunteering, and community involvement.

American high schools know this and generally have a wealth of different clubs and organizations for students to join. However,¬†high schools in other countries may be less zealous about extracurriculars of this sort. In many countries, volunteering in the community just isn’t seen as an appropriate activity for a high school student.

Attendance may be more expensive

While US students benefit from lower, in-state tuition rates, international students are always counted as out-of-state students. Therefore, they always face higher attendance fees.

And since getting a student visa requires proof of financial resources, the chances of accessing need-based aid are basically zero. Thankfully, international students are not exempt from merit-based aid.

International students can use their unique experiences to their advantage

As an international student, you will have to work just as hard – if not even harder –¬†than American citizen college applicants.

However, there are some ways in which a foreign nationality may be useful. For example, life in another country can be great fodder to create colorful stories for an admissions essay, self-introduction video, or interview.

Explaining little-known facts about your culture can definitely pique the admission team’s interest – and many colleges do care about having a diverse student body. Just don’t bank on empty claims that your passport alone will contribute to student diversity.


Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at