Any international students living outside the U.S. and currently choosing a college or university will understand that it’s hard to pick the right one. As online reviews of colleges are plagued with bias and videos made by colleges are more for entertainment and advertisement, taking an objective look at the schools is harder than ever before. They mostly try to show off their fancy campuses and rankings on their websites. Instead, ranking systems from companies, like U.S. News and QS Top Universities, are often one of the few options that people use to find the right college for themselves. But what the ranking is based on might surprise you.
How Universities are Ranked
Now, to understand how the majority of colleges are ranked, you have to take a look at the framework behind it. For example, although the international student ratio and international faculty ratio each take up only five percent of the QS Top Universities’ ranking system, they play a massive role in many universities’ revenue. In-state residents pay $10,740 a year on average on tuition while international students pay no less than $25,000 per year on average. More international students means more money. And more money means that colleges can afford more professors to boost their student-faculty ratio, which makes up 20 percent of the ranking criteria. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? The more money colleges have, the higher quality of education they will provide.
Unfortunately, however, that seems to be not the case. One of the major flaws with this system is that it can misrepresent the quality of education each school provides. For instance, colleges can put limits on certain classes to control their teacher-to-student ratio numbers. Such practice causes students’ access to the best professors to be restricted to a small number of people. This wouldn’t be a problem if all of the professors were amazing, but that is not true in reality. It could be the case that a college has some amazing professors, but you might never be able to take their classes due to the enrollment cap. It would be a lie to say rankings don’t matter, but just remember that the criteria for rankings do not factor in every single detail of what makes a good education and a university.
Another mistake made by many international students is the amount of financial aid that is available to them. The amount of financial aid is extremely limited for international students as most of the aid goes to in-state students. But it’s not non-existent. According to U.S. News, among 890 undergraduate institutions, the average financial aid an international student received was roughly $20,867 during the 2020–2021 academic year. Make sure to search online or contact the college of your interest for the amount of financial aid they can offer, so you don’t miss out on any.