Iranian Student Experience Pursuing Admission to Universities in the United States

By Hefner-Babb, Theresa S.; Khoshlessan, Rezvan | Journal of International Students, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Iranian Student Experience Pursuing Admission to Universities in the United States


Hefner-Babb, Theresa S., Khoshlessan, Rezvan, Journal of International Students


The global setting of higher education is changing and providing more alternatives for students (McLachlan & Justice, 2009; McKenna, 2015). Between the early years of 2000 and today the number of international students in United States universities and colleges has increased to over one million (Open Doors, 2016). Moreover, the Institute of International Education (2016) reported that 5,764 international students were admitted to U.S. universities through their organization. Andrade (2006) and the Institute of International Education (2015) found a rise in the number of international students in English speaking countries such as, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada to name a few. The Institute of International Education (2015) found that among respondents worldwide, the vast majority of prospective students - 74 percent - listed the U.S. as their top choice for college. Human Resources No.110-73 (2007) concluded that the mobility of students around the globe has increased the competition among schools in and out of the U.S.

This group of students are defined with the temporary term "international student" as they enter their temporary home and the country where they intend to study. Once these students return to their home country upon completion of their studies their visa status and temporary identity will no longer exist (Bista & Foster, 2016).

Open Doors (2016) reported that 1,043,839 students enrolled in U.S. universities with 60% of them coming from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. China is ranked as the leading place of origin for international students entering the U.S., with 32% of the total student population; this is followed by India at 16%, and Saudi Arabia and South Korea with 6% (Open Doors, 2015). The number of Iranian international students totaled 12.269 in 2015/16 (Open Doors, 2016) and ranked as the 11th most prevalent international student population in the U.S. Prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the 1970s, Ditto (2014) reported that Iran was the number one country of origin for international students entering the United States. Further, 1982/83, several years after the Islamic Revolution, saw the largest group of Iranian international students admitted to U.S. universities and colleges (Ditto, 2014). Ortiz, Chang, and Fang (2015) found that the majority of international students studying in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada came from families of upper-middle-income economies and were financially supported through scholarships and waivers by their home countries.

Springer, Reider, and Morgan (2017) stated that the college admissions process has become a challenge for many students and their families. They added that this challenge and existing competition among students have led many students to apply to a number of colleges instead of one or two, resulting in a decline in admission rates. Stephens (2013) noted that the international and domestic admissions process is quite different. The main focus of colleges should be to ensure the integrity of the admission process and the quality of the students who are accepted. Thus, there is a need to find a way to make the process easier and less stressful for international students.

Human Resources No.110-73 (2007) and Stephen (2013) claimed that international students and scholars are very beneficial for the United States because they support the economy by bringing in money and because their intelligence, creativity, and knowledge lead to greater innovations in the U.S. market. Altbach (1985) added international students will also benefit by studying in America. They will gain skills that help them confront poverty and economic crisis in their own countries. Moreover, Human Resources No.110-73 (2007) noted that when these students achieve critical roles in international organizations in their countries, a familiarity with and respect for American values is created and contributes to global understandings. …

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