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USC Is Top US University for International Students


International students on the campus of University of Southern California

International students on the campus of University of Southern California

The number of international students in the United States is at record levels. Last year, more than 670,000 foreign students attended an American college or university. The University of Southern California had the largest number for the eighth year in a row. Our correspondent paid a visit to the campus to learn why the students are coming and how they adapt.

In a special class at USC, international students meet with their American counterparts.

Instructor Vincent Vigil says those from overseas learn the ins and outs of life in America.

"We are able to have them interact with American students but then also ask them any sort of simple questions that you may ask another person - what do you like to do for fun? Why did you choose USC?, " said Vincent Vigil.

USC is noted for its athletics, but students say they come for the school's strong academics. "Star Wars" director George Lucas got his start at the USC film school.

Some students come to study business, liberal arts, or communications, or they enroll in the university's highly rated school of engineering.

USC has about 6,600 international students in regular academic programs. One in four graduate students and one in 10 undergraduates come from other countries.

Tony Tambascia directs the university's office of international services. He says USC actively recruits overseas.

"We currently have students from about 115 different places of origin around the world," said Tony Tambascia. "India is first with over 1,500 students. We have almost as many from mainland China."

For American universities, foreign countries provide tuition dollars. Undergraduate students from other countries usually pay full tuition.

Only a small percentage receive financial aid. Foreign students also broaden the pool of high-caliber applicants.

Undergraduate Dean of Admission, Katharine Harrington, says this university's strongest ties are to Asia.

"There are people from all over Asia who have historically attended USC, and so there is a legacy there," said Katharine Harrington.

A Japanese student was in the class of 1890. Today, Yuan Si Zhao, from Beijing, is working on her master's degree in communication management.

"I have lots of friends that came to USC," said Yuan Si Zhao. "That is the main reason I wanted to come. And then, one of my family friends actually recommended this school when I was little."

For Indian engineer student Rahul Khola, the international student body was part of the school's appeal.

"There are tons of Indians," said Rahul Khola. "There are Americans. They're coming from China. So it is good exposure. And that is why I am in the United States. I wanted some cultural exposure."

California's climate is also a draw, but engineering student Bikramjeet Singh Grewal, also from India, spends more time with books than outdoors having fun.

"Not much fun because sometimes you are busy and sometimes your friends are busy, sometimes your professors make you busy," admitted Singh Grewal.

He says the demanding curriculum and international atmosphere have prepared him for graduation and for life afterwards.

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