Saudi students are now the largest demographic of international students at Western Michigan University, says Juan Tavares, the school's director of international admissions and services. The school currently enrolls 333 Saudi students, about 60 more students than in the year before, he says.
"We've had a long tradition of Saudi students coming to Western, even in the '70s and '80s," says Tavares, who notes that the school has designated officials who work mainly with students from Saudi Arabia, as well as an accepting environment in the surrounding town of Kalamazoo. "When they come, they feel welcome."
Public schools, such as Western Michigan, enroll the majority of the international students who come to the United States for an education. Of the 25 institutions with the most international students in 2011-2012, about 20 were public schools, according to "Open Doors." The University of Southern California and the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign topped the list, enrolling 9,269 and 8,997 students from abroad, respectively.
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Still, some students find their academic niche in different settings. In 2011-2012, about 11 percent of all international students were enrolled in U.S. community colleges, two-year institutions with typically low costs. Another third of students were enrolled at private, nonprofit colleges.
Given the wide variety of degree-granting institutions in the United States, international students should research their options before committing, IIE's Blumenthal says.
"There are very many kinds of institutions that are welcoming to foreign students, so they should be looking for the best fit for them," she advises, "not just the one school that they've heard of."
For more international student tips and news, explore the Studying in the United States center.