International students choose finance, computer majors

Wezley Garlick

More than 2,000 international students attend Kent State from 99 different countries. And among these 2,000 students, there are 158 different majors represented.

English as a Second Language is the most popular pre-college program among international students, with 271 students currently enrolled. This constitutes as 12 percent of all international students at Kent.

“ESL is the most popular program because it is the gateway to the academic majors,” said Jonathan Prenosil, international student advisor in the Office of Global Education. “A demonstrated level of English proficiency is a requirement to be admitted to undergraduate and graduate programs.”

ESL is not a required program but international students must demonstrate a level of proficiency prior to being admitted into any major. Students often spend one to four semesters in the program, while paying a reduced tuition. International students do not earn college credits for the courses they take in the ESL program. 

Most popular international student majors

Finance: 171 students

Computer Science: 165 students

Business Management: 118 students

195 of the ESL program students are from Saudi Arabia, the largest amount from any country. Prenosil attributes this to their lack of English proficiency and help from their government.

“The government scholarship provided by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission will pay for most of their students to take ESL classes before beginning classes in their chosen major,” Prenosil said.

After passing the ESL program, international students can choose a major. Finance is the most popular major for international students, with more than 171 enrolled. More international students have finance majors than domestic, said Theresa Wallace, an academic advisor coordinator in the College of Business. And most of these international students are Chinese.

“When I ask them why they picked finance, they tell me that because China has such a growing economy, there are many more opportunities in banking and investments,” Wallace said. “They also believe that earning a degree from an American university is very prestigious.”

Yelei Xia is a senior finance major from China. Yelei said she believes U.S. finance is the most advanced in the world.

“Companies in China treat U.S. finance diplomas as ‘golden’ diplomas,” Yelei said.

Yelei also said that banking holds a monopoly position in China, where many citizens want jobs in the banking area.

“I think that is the reason most Chinese students declare finance major,” she said. “That’s why I did.”

Contact Wezley Garlick at [email protected].