Diversity in American universities is on the rise: just a little under a quarter (23%) of Harvard’s undergraduate enrollment consists of international students. At Columbia University, over a quarter (26%) of the university’s enrollment are international students. The story is the same at other top schools around the nation. UCLA, Boston University, Cornell and NYU all boast international student levels at around 15%. Here at Emory, the picture is roughly the same. Most of these international students in American universities hail from Asian countries, but there is plenty of exchange from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world as well.
At Emory, many international students specifically come from China, India, South Korea, and Japan. Having spoken to these foreign exchange students, it is clear that international admissions to a top-20 American university are incredibly competitive, even more so than they are here. One friend told me that he was the only student from his entire town (a suburb of Calcutta, so quite a lot of competition) to attend a top-30 American school; even with his extremely impressive credentials, he doubted his ability to enroll at a “high quality” school overseas:
“In India, everyone wants to go to America for school… but there are only so many spots. You really have to do something amazing to be considered [in America]. – Harsh K.
What does this mean for the United States? Well, it says something very flattering about our universities, for one. No other country in the world has seen populations of international students surge in quite the same way as we have. Clearly there is a certain prestige attached to an education at a top-20, 30 or even 50 school in the United States. But this also has significance for all students at these universities: more than ever, they have the ability to benefit from the wealth of cultural and intellectual interchange engendered by this sort of “melting pot” atmosphere. When one out of every four students comes from overseas, stories are bound to be told and opinions and thoughts exchanged, whether in class, the lunch room, or at a party. All of this means that when an undergraduate at an American university has finished his four years, he has a good chance of graduating with what might be called a “worldly” or cosmopolitan perspective.
How can one “maximize” this melting pot experience? Emory seems to have had this question in mind when they implemented the Language Lab. The Language Lab, nestled in the Music & Media Library, is equipped with about fifteen state of the art iMacs. Each computer has a full suite of language software, including the Rosetta Stone (over thirty languages) and dozens of other programs for honing languages from around the world: German; Welsh; Vietnamese; Chinese; Tagalog. These languages, and more, are made available to students at Emory—and at other universities across the country. Many schools today give students the ability to pursue these cultural experiences in a variety of settings. And considering the high proportion of international students, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to use these languages as you participate in campus life.
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