Education is a fundamental right that all individuals should benefit from. It provides the stepping stone for a person’s development and success and is a formative process throughout their lives. When it comes to higher education, the United States has become one of the most popular destinations in the world for further studies.

With the wealth of opportunities that the nation provides, from “The American Dream” to the elite status of its universities and colleges, the United States is currently one of the best choices that an international student can consider for their higher education.

The education system in the United States, while highly prestigious and diverse, is relatively different from the systems in other countries. This means that there are potential advantages as well as disadvantages that any prospective student should adequately consider. In this article, we will describe the main pros and cons that entail the American education system.

Pros / Advantages of the American Education System

1. Diversity and Inclusion

The number of international students in the American Education System has increased dramatically over the years. Currently, more than 32% of the student population at the university and college level are international students.

This creates a diverse environment with a mix of various cultures, which allows for different educational reasons that can further enhance your studying experience. For this reason, universities encourage applicants from foreign countries to apply to further diversify the community.

2. Global Recognition

It comes as no surprise to anyone that the prestige and academic excellence offered by American education are almost unparalleled. With a few exceptions, the majority of colleges and best universities in the United States are among the most highly ranked in the world, including:

Most universities are renowned for their rigorous academics and high-quality student experience, and many of these top-ranking universities provide top-quality scholarships and financial awards to their incoming international students. In a recent survey about the top universities in the world, 25 of the top 100 universities are located in the United States.

3. Flexibility of Academic Education

With English as the primary language, practically any student can choose an area of study according to their interests, which improves flexibility. Students have access to an unlimited number of choices for their academic programs, which is a typical case for the majority of higher-education institutions based in the United States.

During your first two years in an undergraduate program, you can experiment and get a taste of different courses (as opposed to the universities in Europe, which require you to study courses relevant to your prospective degree). This system is one of the main reasons why university education in the United States is highly valued.

The diversification of the academic degree enables students to gain a well-rounded perspective and save money (financial or time-related) by studying what they do not like. When it comes to employment, this helps in the long term since it provides you with a broad base of knowledge and a developed personality.

Learn More: How to Study Bachelor’s in the USA

4. Enriching Student Experience

The overall collegiate experience is highly interactive and practical. As the universities attract the best across the world to their campuses, networking and meeting high-profile individuals is a shared experience. Learning involves students actively engaging with these networks and having an open discussion and dialogue.

As a means of developing an all-around state of mind, participation in extra-curricular activities is also encouraged. Universities in the USA provide hundreds of student organizations and societies for this reason so that students can make active use of their further talents.

In addition, the campus forms the focal point of student life. Your place of residence includes the main facilities such as dormitories, shops, stores, bars, cafes, clubs, and other essential spaces for students, thereby improving convenience and ease.

Cons / Drawbacks of the American Education System

1. High Cost of Tuition

Unfortunately, the high standards of academic excellence come with a price tag. The tuition fees offered by the majority of the universities in the United States are among the highest in the world, often going upwards of $45,000 ~ $50,000 per year (depending on the course or degree).

While scholarships and loans are a definite possibility, they are not guaranteed due to international students’ immigration status. We recommend that you avoid getting into debt, so getting a scholarship or any financial aid is a necessity for international students.

See Also: How to Study in the United States for Free

2. Too Much Diversity in Academic Programs

Due to the high diversity of courses in the U.S. education system, each of the 50 states can offer a substantially different curriculum in the same field of study. This can create discrepancies and teaching gaps, as the content will differ from one university to another.

These types of discrepancies can mean that employers could prefer one university’s qualification to another, which might either place you at an advantage or at a disadvantage based on the company that you want to work in. Make sure to check the educational structure offered by your dream institution before starting your admissions application.

3. High Admission Requirements

As expected, applying to a university or college in the United States is definitely a challenging task. While many universities highly consider academics, they also look for well-rounded individuals who are proficient in extracurricular activities as well. So, more than getting straight A’s in your classes is required if that is the only thing an applicant has to offer!

Standardized tests are another integral part of the admissions requirements, the most common of which is the rigorous SATs. Additionally, international students should be able to demonstrate their English proficiency by either taking a TOEFL or an IELTS exam. Depending on the nature of your course, other exams that may be required are GRE, ACT, MCAT, and LSAT exams.

Learn More: USA Universities with Lowest Acceptance Rates

4. Lack of Social Benefits During Periods of Study

An unfortunate disadvantage of the education system for international students is the limited accessibility (or even lack of access in certain situations) to social benefits. These can include social security and healthcare. The process of accessing these benefits is fairly complex and will require heavy paperwork and time investment.

For international students studying abroad in the United States, getting health insurance is a requirement, which means that you may incur additional expenses due to mandatory health insurance. So, keep this in mind since you might have to pay for your health insurance each semester.

5. Restrictions on Employment Opportunities and Work Benefits

Alternatively, work options and employment opportunities after graduation are other complex factors that can disadvantage most international students. Due to immigration restrictions, finding work can be somewhat tricky.

However, this does not mean that the process is impossible. Post-graduation opportunities are available with proper guidance and research. Options include the F-1 or M-1 type visa application. In order to gain further information in this regard, we suggest contacting the International Office of a particular university for proper advice on finding work opportunities in the U.S. for international students.


Education is widely recognized as a fundamental right that should be accessible to all individuals, and the United States is one of the best destinations for higher education. However, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing higher education before making a decision. Besides knowing the pros and cons of studying here, be sure to check out our guide on how you can apply to universities in the United States.


We hope that this article on the pros and cons of the American Education System was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out our Guide to Study in the USA and Available Programs for International Students sections!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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