When applying to universities in the US, minds are often drawn to the big names of the East and West coast. When this happens, international students miss the considerable mass of land and opportunity found within the Midwest.
But with even born “coasties” falling in love with this forgotten region, the universities in the 12 states in the Midwest could be some of the most underrated schools in the country.
Here are four further reasons why international students should consider studying in Middle America:
1. Great universities
World-class education in the US isn’t limited to just the Ivy League.
The University of Chicago, ranked ninth in QS World University Rankings 2019 is located in Illinois, while the 20th-ranked University of Michigan is in the next state.
Many Nobel Prize winners have worked in close association with the university, including Milton Friedman (Economic Sciences, 1976), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Physics, 1983), Saul Bellow (Literature, 1976), Charles Huggins (Physiology or Medicine, 1966), and Willard Libby (Chemistry, 1960).
The Midwest is also home to the “Public Ivies” – US universities reportedly providing an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price: Indiana University, Miami University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin.
2. The heart of America
The coasts are known for their diversity, hosting an international population from hundreds of different nationalities.
— Paul Kirby (@paul1kirby) August 25, 2016
In America’s heartland, the Midwest is where most of the locals live. States like Florida and California reportedly have a foreign-born population up to 74.4 percent and 49.1 percent respectively. Compare that with Ohio, where some cities like Toledo and Cincinnati have a foreign-born population of less than 4 percent.
3. Lower living costs
While ultra-rich international students driving Ferraris do exist, the rest of the international student population would still be those pinching pennies. In the Midwest, such penny-pinching becomes easier with lower rent and other living costs. Cities in Midwest states like Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio dominate Forbes’ ranking of America’s Most Affordable Cities in 2015.
Breaking this down further we can see, using Expatistan’s calculator, the cost of living in Los Angeles, California is 39 percent higher compared to Toledo, Ohio. A dozen eggs in Toledo costs only US$1.92 on average, a fraction of the US$4.17 LA charges.
Similarly, utilities, transport and other commodities are also on the lower side in the Midwest, meaning you can live (almost) like a king even on a student’s budget.
4. Big international student population
According to US News, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio host some of the biggest international student population in 2016-2017.
Moving to a new country can be a tough transition, and while you would want to get to know the local population better, being in these states would mean better pastoral support by your universities to ensure a smoother transition to US university life. (That’s not to say the locals aren’t great – researchers have found that subjects from the Midwest states show friendly and conventional traits more commonly than any other US region).
And with so many nationalities in the same campus, your study abroad experience would be a truly international one.