How HOLLYWOOD Movies Influence International Students to Study in the United States

By Tucciarone, Kristy | College and University, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

How HOLLYWOOD Movies Influence International Students to Study in the United States


Tucciarone, Kristy, College and University


THIS STUDY INVESTIGATES HOW INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS PERCEIVE U.S. UNIVERSITIES AS A RESULT OF THEIR PORTRAYALS IN MOVIES THAT FEATURE HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE PLOT. THE STUDY ALSO ANALYZES WHETHER INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE MORE OR LESS LIKELY TO ATTEND U.S. UNIVERSITIES AS A RESULT OF U.S. INSTITUTIONS' PORTRAYALS IN MOVIES. THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHOD OF FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWING WAS USED TO UNDERSTAND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF U.S. UNIVERSITIES. RECORDED TRANSCRIPTS REVEAL THAT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS PERCEIVE U.S. UNIVERSITIES AS OFFERING FREEDOM, LIMITED PARENTAL CONTROL, FUN, PARTIES, AND AN ACADEMIC STRUCTURE THAT INCORPORATES THE STUDENT'S VOICE. THE FINDINGS OF THIS RESEARCH WILL GUIDE ADMISSIONS OFFICERS AS THEY STRIVE TO RECRUIT AND COMMUNICATE TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS THE MERITS AND THE REALITIES OF STUDYING AT A COLLEGE IN THE UNITED STATES.

As of November 2012, 764,495 international students were enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States-a 5.7 percent increase from 2011 (McMurtrie 2012). China, India, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Vietnam, and Turkey are the top ten countries of origin of international students enrolled at u.s. universities (Institute of International Education 2010). International students benefit from studying in the United States: Doing so offers them greater work-related opportunities as well as the ability to immerse themselves in the English language, promote their understanding of culture, improve their interpersonal skills, and foster their self-identity (Trilokekar and Rasmi 2011). Often, inter- national students return home with an increased positive attitude toward the United States; this can lead to future business relationships with u.s. companies (Institute of International Education 2010).

Higher education continues to be one of the nations top service-sector exports (Institute of International Edu- cation 2010), contributing nearly $21.8 billion to the u.s. economy (McMurtrie 2012). Domestic students also ben- efit from the presence of international students on u.s. campuses, as, for example, from increased diversity, which exposes them to other cultures (McMurtrie 2012), prepares them to work in a global society, and supports their de- velopment of friendships and networks that are world- wide (Nikias 2008). Studying abroad benefits international as well as domestic students. Blurring academic boundaries is key to "innovation and economic growth" because both elements "lie in the freest possible movement of people and ideas-on campus and beyond" (Wildavsky 2011). Alan Goodman, president and ceo of the Institute of International Education (2010), elaborates: "Active engagement between u.s. and interna- tional students in American classrooms provides students with valuable skills that will enable them to collaborate across cultures and borders to address shared global chal- lenges in the years ahead."

With more than 3,100 baccalaureate-granting institu- tions in the United States, each with its own "unique pur- pose, history, student body, and faculty" (Nafukho and Burnett 2002), international students seek information before deciding whether and where to study abroad. Pre- vious research suggests that social influencers play pivotal roles in international students' decisions to participate in study abroad programs. Family, peers, and institutional advisors are the three most persuasive social influencers (Trilokekar and Rasmi 2011).

In addition to the influence of family, peers, and insti- tutional advisors, another entity that has the ability to in- fluence international students' awareness of study abroad programs is the mass media, including television, the In- ternet, and movies (Arenofsky 2002). Movies are the most persuasive communicators about u.s. higher education because they require intentional engagement; the viewer's attention is dedicated solely to the film on the silver screen (Vivian 2003). …

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