International Students in New York Essay


New York is the city that never sleeps. Ask any person in the United States where in the world they would want to go, whether to visit or to stay or just to do about anything – 1 in every 3 people would say New York City.

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New York has been the informal hub for business, fashion and entertainment in the world. In every borough of New York there is always something exciting to see and experience. That’s why New York has been one of the top most destinations in the world. That’s why New York’ s population is not naturally all locals, it is a mixture of different ethnicities coming from all parts of the world. That’s why New York schools do not only cater to local New Yorkers, but to each and every student, International and local alike.

This magnetism of New York, from its nightlife of exciting clubs and downtown bars; museums like the Metropolitan Museum and MoMa; Broadway entertainment; the Times Plaza countdown and the statue of Liberty –has attracted an influx of foreign-born or international students to enroll and avail higher level of learning in Universities and Colleges located in New York. The reasons these international students chose New York to stay in varies, but most of the gathered answers through the mini-survey conducted is due to the lifestyle New York offers and the just because New York is New York! There is no better way to describe it than maybe it is the capital of the world. Other reasons cited are the availability of scholarships and grants to international students and the presence of many universities and college in New York that is accredited by the National Bureau of Immigration as a destination for International Students holding F-1 or M-1 visas. This in a way relays the message that New York is an entry point for foreign born students and non-students into the United States. Another reason is re-unification, may it be with family members or lovers or fiancées or husbands and wives.

In general, this research aimed to explain the reasons why people chose to stay and study in the Universities and Colleges in New York. There may be other reasons as the resources for this research is limited, and there could be more than a thousand reasons why New York, but the writer opted to focus on what was accumulated through the mini-survey and through empirical researches and articles found online.


An immigrant odyssey to America has been largely happening in the last hundred years. Immigrants coming from all parts of the world, largely from non-English speaking countries like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Asian countries like India, Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines. These waves of people coming in to the United States encompassed different reasons and are involved in various situations that are quite similar to each other. Some came looking for greener pastures and improvement of life; this movement is probably caused by the belief that “America is a land of milk and honey”, or the absurd understanding that “manna” can be found only in America. Therefore, people from all over the world flock into the United States looking for work; and they will do anything to get into the United States. Other people also come in to be with their immigrant families, who are already based in the United States; others come to get married; others come to escape political situations from their own countries; and others come for education.

This is the main topic of this paper.

Why do foreign students go to the United States to study, specifically to the State of New York? Why New York? Why not other states? What’s so different with New York from the other states in America? What are the reasons foreign students chose to attend Universities and Colleges in New York, rather than Universities and Colleges in other states?

These questions were born through the writer’s interest in the surge of foreign students in the United States education system. In addition to the increasing number of immigrants in key cities such as New York and California; the writer chose New York because according to one acquaintance who was a foreign student studying in New York, there was no other option for her but New York. The writer asked why, and she just said “because” with such an air that it immediately sparked a curiosity that led to the formation of the above questions.

Therefore, the writer will try to answer the above questions through presenting a study of literature that analyzes the surge of international students into the Americas and New York City; moreover the writer would present his own arguments about the reasons why students chose to go to Universities and Colleges in New York City instead of the other states through a thorough analysis and interpretation of a survey that was answered by a random sampling of international students studying in New York. Although this survey is very ambitious and very difficult as there is no other data to compare it to, all gathered information would be treated as primary sources and this presentation and analysis would be further summarized through the conclusion statement.

Study of Literature

There are no books, articles or current researches about the topic “why international students choose schools in New York” that can be accessed on hard copy or online. Therefore, the following review of literature was stated for the reasons that some of the statements in this paper were based on these literatures and they contain significant data that can help make the paper more comprehensible for readers if there is a brief background about the target of the study which was presented in these writings.

1. McDonnell, Lorraine M. & Hill, Paul T. Newcomers in American Schools: Meeting the Educational Needs of Immigrant Youth.

This is a research by RAND, a non-profit institution that seeks to improve public policy through research and analysis. In this case, the research was focused on international or immigrant students studying in the schools of United States and how to properly address their needs. The research is also supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Program for Research on Immigration Policy. The research contains data that is helpful for the development of this papers premise, although it didn’t actually delved into international students that are in New York, the analysis as to why students come to America to study would be a helpful background in understanding why some of these international students chose New York over widely internationally populated California.

“The utilitarian reason is that these children are literally the nation’s future. Most of them will remain here as adults and the quality of education they receive will shape the quality of life all Americans enjoy over the next decades – they are tomorrow’s citizens and workers.”

In this research, data were collected from six districts that reflects the highest number of international students – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston and San Francisco. The study came up with conclusions and one of these as stated:

“The quality of schooling that immigrant students receive largely depends on the capacity of the local communities in which they reside.”

In addition to this, a citation in the research caught the writer’s attention as to why international students seek higher education in other countries and aspire to excel more than their local American classmates;

“Immigrants, on the whole, have a higher educational and occupational aspirations than indigenous groups… more are determined to use education as a strategy for upward social mobility… education enhance opportunities to compete for jobs…High expectations and assumptions about the value for schooling appear to have far more impact on the immigrant child’s decision to persist in school than either family background or school performance.” (Cited in Gibson,174)

2. Foner, Nancy. New Immigrants in New York.

This book discussed the effects migration has on New York City and the effect New York City has on these immigrants. It mainly focused on the give and take relationship or symbiosis that exists between these two “concepts” and its virtually detailed by contributing authors recounting their experiences as International Students in New York City.

“The move to New York City has a profound effect on new immigrants, and their lives in innumerable ways when they settle there. New York, as a major U.S. city offers newcomers the economic opportunities of an advanced industrial society and express them to key values and institutions of American culture. But New York is special in many respects. That immigrants have settled there rather than, say Los Angeles or Miami influences them in particular ways. It is thus necessary to appreciate the role of New York as a specific urban context. At the same time, immigrant’s experiences in New York are mediated by the cultural beliefs, social practices and human capital they bring with them, as well as by other sociodemographic features of their particular immigrant group. Moreover, even as they settle in New York, immigrants often continue to maintain ties with their homeland and these transnational connections also have consequences for their lives in the city.”

New York is a special city and through the recounted experiences of immigrants who had lived and experienced what the city had to offer, is a valuable information why the influx of international students into the New York schools. The unique quality of a city is important feature when making a decision such as moving or going to school. You will be spending at least a year in a city if ever for schooling, so a student must choose cautiously and attentively about his decision, as this will affect his schooling, as well as his life.

3. Open Door, Institute of International Education Website Featuring Surveys about International Students in the United States.

Yes, the website is not supposedly part of the literature, but this website contains important and up to date information about the situation of International Students enrolled in American Schools. This website is particularly helpful in filling out the numbers game as to how many exactly has been enrolled in American Universities, what percentage is enrolled in New York City Universities and Colleges; as this will help determine that New York is one of the top destinations of International students. Tables such as below are examples of these data that empirically proved the choice of international students is New York.

Figure 5A: Top 25 Leading Institutions Hosting International Students 2006/07 by Open Doors.

University of Southern California
Los Angeles
Columbia University
New York
New York University
New York
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Purdue University, Main Campus
West Lafayette
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor
University of Texas at Austin
University of California – Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Harvard University
Boston University
University of Pennsylvania
The Ohio State University, Main Campus
SUNY – University at Buffalo
Arizona State University – Tempe Campus
Indiana University at Bloomington
Michigan State University
East Lansing
University of Florida
Texas A;M University
College Station
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Stanford University
Cornell University
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Penn State University – University Park
University Park
University of Maryland College Park
College Park
Wayne State University

Columbia University is the leading school with the highest number percentage of international students among all universities US wide.

Open Doors 2007

Report on International Educational Exchange

Table 14: Institutions with 1,000 or more International Students: Ranked by International Student Total 2006/07

Total Int’l Students
Total Enrollment
% Int’l
University of Southern California
Los Angeles
Columbia University
New York
New York University
New York
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In this table, two Universities from New York (Columbia University and New York University) have more than one thousand international students.

Results of the Mini – Survey

A random sampling of a targeted group was conducted by the researcher in pursuit of primary data to answer the questions stated in the introduction. The target group was international students who are currently enrolled in universities and colleges of New York City. Twenty-five survey forms were handed randomly to international students, as this is only a preliminary and pioneering research about why international students chose New York, the number of respondents was only determined by on-site encounters with international students in a specific amount of time. Thus, twenty-five survey forms were handed out, and the results are as follows:

Country of Origin:

8 or 32%
5 or 20 %
3 or 12%
2 or 8%
2 or 8 %
Puerto Rico
2 or 8%
1 or 4 %
1 or 4%
1 or 4 %
Length of Stay:

Less than 1 year length of stay
5 or 20 %
1 to 3 years length of stay
12 or 48 %
4- 7 years length of stay
7 or 28%
More than 7 years length of stay
1 or 4 %

2. Is New York your first city of choice?

All 25 respondents answered yes.

3. What was your reason for studying abroad?

Higher Education / Specialization
5 or 20%
Grants / Scholarship Program
1 or 4%
Migration of Family
3 or 12%
Superior Quality of Education
11 or 44%
5 or 20%

4. Why did you choose New York?

Because I like New York city. New York is the place to be. I love New York.
15 or 60%
My family moved here.
3 or 12 %
Because I want to work here someday.
2 or 8 %
There are a lot of good schools here and lots of museums especially the Met. I love the Met!
1 or 4 %
I’ve always wanted to experience New York life, and this is my chance because there’s no way my Mom would let me come and live here.
1 or 4 %
My boyfriend is already here.
1 or 4 %
My scholarship was granted and I got it, lucky me.
1 or 4 %
Because I want to be independent and where is the good place to start than here in NY.
1  or 4 %

5. After graduation, would you still stay in New York?

Twenty answered yes.


I would like to find work here first.
10 or 40%
Because my family already lives here
4 or 16%
Because there’s no other place I’d rather be than here
4 or 16%
I live here already.
1 or 4%
If I could apply what I learned here in NY then it would look really good in my resume.
1 or 4%

Five said no.


I’m going home to my country for a while. Perhaps vacation.
4 or 16%
I’m going back to where my parents are, I will be running the family business now.
1 or 4%

Taking a cue from the results of the survey, the writer would further analyze and interpret the reasons stated by presenting some explanation as to why these respondents answered as such. This led to some main arguments that the paper would be making in reference as to why international students preferred New York from other states.

I.                   Expounding  Statements

a.       The Big Apple

“I want to be a part of it… New York! New York!”

This line from a song that was made famous by Frank Sinatra, clearly states that one of the best places in the United States is New York. The shining lights of the Empire State Building where its overlooking deck has been used so many times in countless romantic movies; especially that one particular movie that has touched our lives already, where the meeting place after three months was the viewing deck of the Empire State Building (Love Affair).

Yes, this has nothing to do with education, but the mere mention of New York City brings a sparkle in the ayes amongst many people, foreign and local.

Sixty percent (15 out of 25) of the respondents in the mini-survey answered they chose New York because New York is the place to be. Big Apple, as it is commonly called, literally is the big apple of everything in the United States. New York is famous for its many landmarks aside from the infamous Two Towers incident that took the lives of thousands of New Yorkers; but setting that aside, New York is the place to be. Just like Carrie Bradshaw of the hit HBO TV series “Sex and the City” said, “there is no place like New York”.

Let’s start off with the most famous island in New York, Manhattan. Located at the south-eastern part of New York, and is separated by the East River from the other cities of Queens and Brooklyn. Manhattan is filled with so many places to go to and is very accessible because of the yellow cabs and the superior Subway system. This is the part of New York where most movie scenes are shot and most of the eventful events happen.

It is Manhattan where you can find Broadway, home of the most beautiful theater shows; the financial district of Wall Street where every investor wanted a bite in; fashionable Fifth Avenue, a place to be for fashion conscious individuals; and the exclusive residences of Park Avenue. Who could not miss the bright lights of Times Square where every New Year, a big ball of spectacles get raised up in time for the final countdown? Yes. This is Manhattan. The most exciting place to be… now, who doesn’t want to study here?

New York is filled with Museums and fine arts galleries that could more than wow anyone who would take the time to see. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the best place for students to go history-tripping about arts and its counterparts. It houses relics and antiquities that are rarely seen in any museums in the world.

b.      The American Quality of Education

The United States is a melting pot of different cultures and through collaboration and advancement in technology and strategies and techniques, it has developed itself to be the main center for innovation and further education. Universities that are achieved extraordinary credits in almost all areas of education can be found in the United States. The best University in the world (Harvard) can be found in the United States.

In New York there are more than fifty schools to choose from and this is headed by the top University of Phoenix, Columbia University, Berkeley University and the University of New York. New York schools specialize in Art and Design and anyone interested could enroll in The Art Institute of New York City, and of course the famous Juilliard School where the top performers of the world get their training and education. When it comes to business courses, Devry Institute of Technology in Long Island City and University of Phoenix can put you on a fast track to a management career. The healthcare curriculum of New York schools managed to stay on the cutting edge and had developed many skilled and knowledgeable physicians and medical practitioners through its prominent Universities and Colleges.

c.       Availability of Financial Assistance

In New York, there are a lot of student grants and scholarships available for international students. Twenty one of these scholarships offered by Universities and Colleges, as well as Non-government organizations are as listed:

1. Berkeley College International Student Scholarships offered by Berkeley College.

2. Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow Fellowship by the Council on Foreign Relations.

3. McLaine East and Central Europe Leadership Program by the International House of New York.

4. Plattsburgh Scholarships and Grants by the State University of New York, Plattsburgh.

5. Reproductive Biomedicine Postdoctoral Fellowships by the Population Council.

6. Sid and Ruth Lapidus Fellowship by the American Jewish Historical Society.

7. Bard College International Student Scholarship Program

8. Columbia University, Teachers College Scholarships

9. Fordham University Undergraduate Scholarship

10. Hamilton College Financial Aid for International Students

11. Hursky Felloeship by the Syracuse University

12. International House NY Outreach Grants by the International House of New York.

13. International Undergraduate Freshmen Scholarship by the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York SUNY

14. Marymount College International Award

15. New School International Student Fellowships and Scholarships by New School University

16. NYU Hauser Global Scholars Program by the New York University School of Law

17. RIT International Undergraduate Scholarships by the Rochester Institute of Technology.

18. SUNY Geneseo International Student Scholarships

19. Syracuse University Graduate Assistanships

20. Syracuse University Graduate Fellowships

21. Utica International Academic Achievement Award by Utica College

These scholarships grant as much as 10-25% tuition fee per year to almost full tuition coverage through out their study as long as the candidate maintains the required GPA which is usually 3.0. These are just 21 reasons why international students chose to go to New York instead of other states.

d.      Entry to the US Through Student Visa

For international students to be able to enter and stay in the United States, they need to apply for a student visa. Student visas are classified into three:

F-1 Visa or Academic Visa allows one to enter the US a full-time student at an accredited college or University. The student must be enrolled in a program or course of study which culminates in a degree, diploma or certificate.

M-1 Visa or Vocational Student is issued to students who want to pursue nonacademic programs such as healthcare technician, machinist, etc…in an established institution.

J-1 Visa or Exchange Student is for students pursuing graduate / postgraduate studies, visiting scholars, medical doctors undergoing training and many more.

35% of all approved Student Exchange Visitor Program approved schools are located within the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas. There are 651 schools in New York that is approved. Just the number of approved schools in New York is another 651 reasons why international students choose New York over other states. Top F-1 approved school is headed by the City University of New York with 12, 439 active students.

69% of active students are enrolled in Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral Programs.

e.       Family Re-Unification

In some cases, just like that one respondent who answered the reason why she went to New York was to follow his boyfriend who was already in New York. This is what the writer calls “re-unification”, wherein one member of the family or affiliate follows pursuit and stay in the same place where the other family members had already established themselves. In this case, a lot of immigrant families move from one state to another looking for better jobs hoping for a better living. There are also a lot of immigrant workers who are petitioning their children, siblings, or even nephews and nieces to come and live with them. These young people (or not so young) would then study wherever they are already. Nancy Foyer in her book New Immigrants in New York mentioned that almost half of the city population of New York is composed of other races and mostly Caribbean and Asians. As mentioned in the study conducted by RAND, Asians are inclined to be educational achievers and they make their children go to the best schools for a hope of having a better future once they graduate and get their diplomas and degrees. Being minorities, they believe that having a college degree would give them an edge over the local graduates and would win them better positions and better jobs (which is true at some cases).

II.                Conclusion

Education is highly regarded anywhere in the world. Parents will spend fortune on securing their kids college plans and would really work hard just to make sure that their children would get the right kind of education, at the right place. Even if it means that the right place is a thousand miles away from them, in the city of New York.


Foner, Nancy. New Immigrants in New York. Columbia University Press, 2001. 313 pgs.

McDonnell, Lorraine M. ; Hill, Paul T. Newcomers in American Schools: Meeting the Educational Needs of Immigrant Youth. “Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Program for Research on Immigration Policy” RAND, 1993.

Open Doors. International Student Enrollment in US Rebounds. Institute of International Education. November 12, 2007. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Open Doors. Fall 2007 International Student Enrollment Survey. November 2007. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Open Doors. Top 25 Leading Institutions Hosting International Students. Report on International Student Exchange, 2007. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Open Doors. Institutions with 1000 and more International Students. Institute of International Education. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Open Doors. International Educational Exchange in New York for 2006/07.  Institute of International Education. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. General Summary Quarterly Overview for the Quarter Ending September 30, 2007. Final Draft October 5, 2007. Accessed December 2, 2007.

Funding for US Study. Institute of International Education. Accessed December 2, 2007.;keyword=NY

Survey Form                                                                                                 NY Research

Name (Optional):
Country of Origin:
Primary Language:

Please fill up the following with a check mark  where it’s applicable.

1. How long have you been studying in New York?

____ Less than 1 years                      ____ 4 – 7 Years

____ 1 – 3 Years                                ____ more than 7 years

2. Is New York your first city of choice?

__ Yes

__ No

(If No, please state your first city of choice)


3. What was your reason for studying abroad?

____ Higher Education / Specialization

____ Grants / Scholarship

____ Migration of Family

____ Superior Quality of Education

____ Others

(Please state)____________________________________________________________

4. Why did you choose New York?



5. After graduation, would you still stay in New York?

__ Yes.



____ No.




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