According to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Data Report, Ohio State is ranked the 14th-leading institution in the nation to host international students in the 2014-15 school year.
Last school year, OSU’s Columbus campus enrolled 7,121 international students, a 4.7 percent increase from the 6,800 enrolled international students in 2013-14, according to the report.
Other universities on the list with OSU include New York University, University of Southern California and Columbia University.
Fa Zhou, also known as Tower, a third-year in marketing and logistics, is an international student from China who said he believes that OSU is highly ranked because of how much the school focuses on diversity and including students of different cultures.
“When I was researching (different schools to attend), I realized how much Ohio State focuses on diversity and inclusion. The Office of International Affairs programs a lot of events,” Zhou said. “Also, when the school noticed the increasing population of Chinese students, they opened up an office in China to do a predeparture orientation. It showed me how much Ohio State cares about international students. It made me feel more connected to the community here.”
Megan McCarthy, program manager for Global Engagement in the Office of International Affairs, said that she and fellow employees go to Shanghai in June for a daylong orientation that helps international students from the area become more familiar with American culture. She and other workers in the international affairs office also meet with these students’ parents so that they get familiar with OSU because many parents do not get the chance to come to the U.S. themselves.
The Office of International Affairs also holds regular programming to help ensure academic success of international students and integration on campus.
“We want our international students to have opportunities to meet with American students, and we also want American students to have meaningful interactions with our international students,” McCarthy said. “We do a lot of programming that focuses on getting both populations together … to build a support network of advocates and allies in our domestic students so they understand what the experience is like for international students. But then they also see the value in having so many diverse perspectives from all over the world here on campus.”
A few intercultural connection programs that OSU holds include Global Engagement Nights, Taste of OSU, the English Conversation Program and Global Engagement Semester Trips.
Zhou said he had also been accepted to Pennsylvania State University, which is ranked ahead of OSU at 12th in the nation in the Open Doors Data Report, but he said he chose OSU because he believed that the Buckeyes had more to offer than other universities.
“(When I was initially searching for schools), I was focusing a lot on the rankings … but I realized that there were more things (about American universities) to discover,” Zhou said. “I found out that if you can’t find an organization that fits you at Ohio State, you can start one of your own. That’s something that I really wanted to do.”
Zhou is president and co-founder of a mentoring organization called Fisher International Friends on campus that builds a bridge between high-rank domestic students and newly enrolled international students who are in the Fisher College of Business.
Though OSU is one of the leading institutions for international students, Zhou said that OSU could increase the international student population by letting prospective international students know how much the university has to offer, as well as spotlighting specific students and their experiences on campus to make a stronger connection with them.
McCarthy said that OSU believes in quality over quantity when it comes to hosting international students.
“We have the capacity to have more (international) students than a smaller college might, but at this moment, we aren’t looking to necessarily increase the international student population,” McCarthy said. “We want to make sure to maintain that quality.”