Choosing Schools From Afar: The Selection of Colleges and Universities in the United States by Foreign Students

In 1983-84, there were 339,000 foreign students in U.S. institutions of higher education (see Open Doors), most of whom necessarily made two basic decisions: first, the decision to study in the United States instead of in another foreign country; second, the decision to study at a particular institution in the United States. It is the purpose of this research project to ascertain some of the factors influencing the decisions made by these foreign students and to identify the salience of different factors for subsets of the foreign student population.

The most impressive finding of the study is that a very large proportion of the respondents—three-quarters—are satisfied with the schools they selected. A substantial proportion of the respondents—about 30 percent—report that they find the costs of attending the school they selected to be higher than expected, and that they are in some degree disappointed by relationships with professors and with the community, as well as by the recreational opportunities available to them.