US College Students Head North In Record Numbers

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This Wikipedia file photo of the Arts Building on the campus of McGill University is becoming a familiar site for American college students. McGill is Canadas highest regarded university and a destination for American students seeking to study in Canada.

This Wikipedia file photo of the Arts Building on the campus of McGill University is becoming a familiar site for American college students. McGill is Canada's highest regarded university and a destination for American students seeking to study in Canada.

Canada is becoming an increasingly important destination for college bound students in the United States. Although operating just 94 public universities across Canada (compared to $2500+ in the US), the country is becoming popular with students who are seeking international exposure as well as more affordable tuition.

American Students Canada Bound

In a story which ran in yesterday’s edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer (More U.S. Students Picking Canadian Universities), the Canadian Embassy reports that as many as 10,000 American students are being educated in Canada this year, a three-fold increase from a decade ago. Canada sends 28,000 of its own college students to US schools, thus the sending gap is gradually closing between the friendly western nations.

What’s so attractive about Canada? Two things: a traditional international student body at many schools as well as affordable tuition. Indeed, China is currently the largest supplier of foreign students followed by the U.S. Because Canadian schools are heavily subsidized by the federal government, tuition is much cheaper than most private schools in the U.S., even competitive with some of the flagship state universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or University of Texas at Austin.

Financial Aid & Admissions

College savings plans can be tapped to pay for their Canadian education and students are eligible to apply for federal student loans. Some need based and merit aid is also offered, sweetening the pie for prospective students.

Canadian bound students have also discovered that the admission process at most schools is much more straightforward, based primarily on high school grades. Some schools require SAT/ACT scores from American students, while doing away with admission essays and a stringent interview process.

Weather, Extracurricular Life Factor In

As might be expected, some American students cannot handle the deep cold of an Ontario or Québec winter, finding that single-digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures in the heart of winter too much to bear. And, popular college sports in the U.S. such as basketball and football aren’t as dominant. Furthermore, while the drinking age is 18 across Canada, Greek life isn’t part of the equation.

Still, American students seem to enjoy the international mixture which is highest at McGill University in Montreal where 18% of the students are not Canadian.

Top Canadian Universities

The Canadian Embassy is currently sponsoring open houses featuring a number of Canadian universities at cities around the US including Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Stamford, CT and Boston. These open houses are meant to introduce students to the Canadian higher education system and to demonstrate to Americans that Canada has more to offer to the US than NHL hockey players, paper products and cold fronts.

What are the top three universities in Canada? According to U.S. News & World Report’s – World’s Best Colleges: Canadian Universities – that would be McGill University, University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto.

Head to Vancouver for the next four years if mild winters are more to your liking!

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