The Reputation of the University and Its Importance to an International Student

If you’re choosing to live and study in America for your university years, then it’s likely that you’ll want to pay particular attention to the reputation of the university that you attend. However, this is not the same type of “reputation” that means how famous a university is. Many international students flock to American universities because they recognize and know the name of the university. Though some universities are known world over, it does not mean that they are of particularly high standing.

One good way to determine the right kind of “reputation” and if the school you are considering possesses it is with the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” annual rankings. This is a guide that organizes almost fifteen hundred American universities in a comprehensive list that ranks them according to a number of different factors.

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These factors include, but are not limited to, things like how many entering university students actually graduate, GPAs of graduating students, and reports from students currently attending the university. It is because a large variety of factors are weighed that this guide is such a great tool for determining which universities to and to not attend, without having to do overly extensive research.

How and why do these factors matter? Let’s start with graduation percentages. This one is pretty cut and dry – if the percentage of students who graduate from the university is particularly low, then this is a sign that you may want to steer clear of that university. It may hint at substandard teaching methods or generally poor life for those on campus.


If many students drop out before graduation at a low-ranked university, then it’s more likely you may become one of them. Second, you should look at the GPAs of graduating students. This allows you to see by just how much students graduated. If graduating students have mostly just barely passed, then it is, once again, a good sign to not attend that particular university.

However, it is really hard to rank the true quality. Sometimes the best way to value a university is by how the students rank it. Sometimes this can be found by going to the university’s website and seeing what students say about it. Also, the university should have a way for you to contact international students already studying there. Ask them. The international students themselves may be your best guide to the reputation of the university!

Dennis Dunham, PhD is the Executive Director of International Services at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is credited with helping over 16,000 international students come to the United States. Dr. Dunham has received many awards in the field of international education. Dr. Dunham holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Technology and Masters of TESOL. Dr. Dunham, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, speaks Korean and French.

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