Between 2017 and 2020, international student application numbers have either fallen or been at a stand still for colleges across the United States... and unsurprisingly so. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic instability and the implications of Donald Trump's run as President, students across the world have been hesitant to consider the U.S. as an option for higher education. But that has changed in the 2020-2021 application season... and it continues to rise for the 2021-2022 cohort.
Interest from international students is on the rise again, and some have even labelled the surge, the "Biden bump". Compared to 2019-20, the volume of international applicants increased by 9% as of January 22, 2021 (as reported by the Common App). And as recently reported, that number has now increased to 31% for 2022.
In the 2020-2021 application season, we saw a significant decrease in applicants from East Asia that was predicted to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However as of February 2022, the leading home countries for international applicants is China, India, Canada, Pakistan and Nigeria.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ENROLLMENT
Despite seeing a 9% increase in international student applications in January 2021, fewer than 1 million foreign students actually enrolled for classes at U.S. universities in the 2020-2021 school year. This marks a 15% decrease from the 2019-2020 school year and is the first time since 2014 that fewer than a million international students have enrolled at U.S. based institutions.
This was a direct response to the uncertainty of COVID-19 concerning both health, politics and finances. Many countries were still experiencing closed borders, flight cancellations and other challenges caused by the pandemic, which would have been discouraging for first time students coming from abroad.
Given that the world seems to be on the trajectory of resuming social normalcy in the move to a "post-pandemic" life, it can be predicted that the significant increase in international student applications would correspond with an increase in international student enrollment for the Class of 2026.
It should be noted as well that many foreign students who applied in the 2020-2021 application season may not have enrolled to be in the Class of 2025, but may have deferred to the Class of 2026. We had predicted in 2021 that this would have made applications for the 2021-2022 season more competitive due to less spots being available on account of an increase in deferrals from 2020-2021 applications.
Overall though, the Common App has been working on creating a more inclusive application
to encourage more international applicants to U.S. institutions. As more of these changes come, we can only foresee an increase in the international student population in the U.S. for years to come.
College applications aren't all about academic prowess and the number of extracurricular activities! Many factors affect your chances of getting in and getting money to be able to attend the college of your dreams.
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