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Why Is US Grad School Mainly Non-US Students?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the damn-it-jim-i'm-a-doctor-not-an-engineer dept.

Education 1131

I am a new graduate student in Computer Engineering. I would like to get my MS and possibly my Ph.D. I have learned that 90% of my department is from India and many others are from China. All the students come here to study and there are only 7 US citizens in the engineering program this year. Why is that? I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law and that is why there are so few Americans in engineering. Is this true?

cancel ×

1131 comments

and? (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796339)

The problem is?

The world always needs more lawyers.
 

Re:and? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796351)

fag

Re:and? (5, Insightful)

delong (125205) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796563)

This actually is true. Advanced societies that are governed by the rule of law and that require complex rules will naturally require more lawyers. Most people think of Law and Order when someone says "lawyer", but that ignores the far larger practice area of corporate and commercial law that governs extremely complex commercial behavior that makes a modern capitalism economy hum. Nobody thinks about the Uniform Commercial Code as a vital piece of maintaining civilization, but it is.

Besides that, medicine and law are recession proof. Hell, they are nuclear-war proof.

Because a majority of US citizens are poor? (0)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796349)

I watched something the other day that said India was going to surpass the US by 2020.

Re:Because a majority of US citizens are poor? (1)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796367)

You don't need money to do graduate work in most scientific fields. I'm not sure how computer engineering is, but for me to study math I get paid by the school for it.

Re:Because a majority of US citizens are poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796497)

I watched something the other day that said India was going to surpass the US by 2020.
Surpass the US in what? GDP? Nope, even PPP value is less than a third of the US. Median income? Yeah right!

Are you sure that what you watched wasn't just a junkie smoking crack? India may very well surpass the US, but it will probably be in roughly 50 years.

Re:Because a majority of US citizens are poor? (1)

adatepej (1154117) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796505)

"surpass"?

Re:Because a majority of US citizens are poor? (4, Insightful)

delong (125205) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796527)

Really this is just silly. If 9.8% of US families is considered "the majority", then you'd be right. But you're wrong. Besides that fact, US GDP per capita is several times that of India or China, so by your logic there should be no Indian or Chinese grad students because not only are a majority of Indians and Chinese truly poor, they are much poorer than the average American.

Most Americans don't go to grad school because there is little economic incentive to do so. The US economy only supports so many technocrats. The presence of so many Indian and Chinese students in US science and technical grad programs is a natural function of those nations' evolving manufacturing and services sectors. They simply need to train more technocrats because their sectors are growing compared to those sectors in the US, which are economically mature.

As to India or China "surpassing" the US, what does that mean? Surpassing the US in what? Manufacturing? Good! That's economic specialization that creates efficiencies for everyone. Not only is talk of "surpassing" mere economic scare-mongering (did we learn nothing from such silliness when the Japanese were supposed to "surpass us" in the 1980s? Where are the Japanese today? Economic stagnation), it makes erroneous straight-line projections that ignore very important long term considerations of demographics and other factors. The US economy will be a large and important factor in the global economy for the foreseeable future. But the global economy continues to grow and evolve and the US economy continues to change from its post-WWII dominance (unsurprising since it was the only intact industrial economy on the planet) to an important player in a dynamic specialized global economy.

90% of those who apply are probably from India... (5, Insightful)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796353)

They accept those who apply. Most Americans are probably happy with just an undergrad degree and don't want to go to grad school.

Being an American graduate student myself, there are a lot of foreigners where I am as well. I don't have a problem with it. Why are you ranting here and not in some blog?

Re:90% of those who apply are probably from India. (4, Funny)

j35ter (895427) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796437)

Why are you ranting here and not in some blog?

'cause he's wondering how the next gen of american CS's will cope with the un-american competition. Imagine a future where most U.S. tech-companies outsource R&D and production to India and china...oh...never mind

Re:90% of those who apply are probably from India. (3, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796569)

I don't see where he had a problem with it, either. The difference between you and him isn't that you don't have a problem with it--it's that you aren't curious about why it is. As an academic, it's rather odd for you to assume that curiosity implies anything more sinister.

Re:90% of those who apply are probably from India. (5, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796679)

Yeah but, to be fair, this is slashdot. Everything has an element of complaining. If I were just curious about grad school stats I'd ask in a grad forum. I'd only ask here if I wanted a bunch of cynical worst-case-scenario answers, some complaints about the American school system, and a side dish of thinly veiled racism/xenophobia.

True The smarter ones are not in school. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796701)

The smarter ones are not in school.
They learn on their own, on the job and in the real world.

Short answer (3, Funny)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796355)

"I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law and that is why there are so few Americans in engineering. Is this true?"

Yes!

I would give the long answer, but I have to get back to preparing a computer networking paper with my chinese advisor and my 3 chinese colleagues :)

i don't know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796359)

why is my dick in yo mouth?

Re:i don't know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796433)

cause i am a man and you are a fag

$$chool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796369)

"I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law and that is why there are so few Americans in engineering. Is this true?"

Tuition cost.

Re:$$chool. (3, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796417)

That is a factor.

But as long as "success" is defined by earnings, and
lawyers and doctors are paid more than engineers,
the smart ones will pick this way.

Because we can get great jobs with just a B.Sc (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796371)

No text

It's a numbers game (4, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796385)

India has a billion people. China has a billion people. America has 300,000 people, which is almost an order of magnitude less than India and China combined. Consider that many of the best grad schools are in America--plenty of Indians and Chinese come to America for grad school, but you don't see as many Americans going to India or China. All in all, Americans are fortunate that we can get the same education next door that other people travel around the world for.

Re:It's a numbers game (4, Funny)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796405)

America has 300,000 people

The Rapture happened? I'm still here? Wow, that's strange. I insult God all the time.

Ob Simpsons (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796481)

The Rapture happened? I'm still here? Wow, that's strange. I insult God all the time.
That is why you were LEFT BELOW

Re:It's a numbers game (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796407)

>America has 300,000 people

Holy Shit!

Re:It's a numbers game (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796431)

Fine, 300,000,000. Which is still about an order of magnitude less than 2,000,000,000.

Re:It's a numbers game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796615)

Oh shut the fsck up going on about your stupid mistake! You must be one of our moronic citizens that did do much in edumacation.

Re:It's a numbers game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796423)

America has 300,000 people
Epic fail. Please disconnect your tube and await pickup.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796631)

Await pickup? The internet's not like a truck, you can't just dump things into it.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

Tragek (772040) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796427)

I do wonder if this is why the American attitude (In a gross... disgustingly gross exaggeration) seems relatively insular compared to many other countries. Too much naval gazing because you're already the centre of the universe.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796439)

America has 300,000 people

The USA has over three hundred million people.

-jcr

Re:It's a numbers game (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796463)

I assume you really meant that America has 300,000,000 people. In any event, China and India are both attempting to extract as much advanced knowledge and skill from the United States as they can, while simultaneously preventing us from doing anything consequential. The best way to do that is to swamp our educational system with their own people, people who eventually return home with what they've learned leaving us with, well, not much.

On the other hand, given that America seems to have less and less use for advanced training I don't suppose it will matter in the long run.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796515)

Yes, it's all a big conspiracy.

Re:It's a numbers game (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796549)

Actually, it is. China reached the point of significant industrialization in an incredibly short time by instituting an organized knowledge transfer program (and not just the U.S., but we were the most concentrated stockpile of information around, with the fewest restrictions on foreign students.) Call it what you want, but China's people came here, educated themselves as to what a high-technology culture needs to build and maintain the required industry ... and then went home and did just that. India is now doing the same thing. Right or wrong, conspiracy or not ... that's what's going on.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796535)

The best way to do that is to swamp our educational system with their own people, people who eventually return home with what they've learned leaving us with, well, not much.
This may be true with many visitors, but my experience with them has been that once they're here they want to stay here.

Re:It's a numbers game (0, Flamebait)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796617)

Sure ... I might want to stay here as well, depending upon where I was from. That isn't necessarily what their government wants, nor is it necessarily what we want, and in any event people don't get to just enter a nation, go to school there, and just decide to stay because it suits them. Well, that's not how it's supposed to work, anyway. Generally speaking, the folks that were there first (in most places in the world, they're known as "citizens") make laws regarding who they want to have as neighbors.

Where did the idea start that America is just some vast smorgasbord of cool stuff that anyone can just take for themselves any time they please?

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

iconoclaustic (979313) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796465)

...and by 300,000, you mean 300,000,000?

Multiply by another 10^3, and we'll be on track.

Re:It's a numbers game (3, Funny)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796485)

You're like the sixth person to call me out on a typo. Who could have ever guessed that Slashdotters were pedantic nerds with nothing better to do on a Saturday night than correct a minor error? (Strangely enough, I did, correctly, say that the US population was about an order of magnitude less than 2 billion. 300,000 is about four orders of magnitude less.)

Re:It's a numbers game (3, Funny)

Aqua04 (859925) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796627)

Who could have ever guessed that Slashdotters were pedantic nerds with nothing better to do on a Saturday night than correct a minor error?

What do you mean ? What else would there be to do on a Saturday night ? By the way, its usually best to leave a space before a question mark at the end of a sentence. You said "minor error?", it should be "minor error ?". Reads better and makes the user experience of reading your sentence that much more comfortable. Thanks.

Re:It's a numbers game (2, Funny)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796665)

It looks like a typo to me, and considering what happened the last time I made a typo...

Chinese and Indians are still relatively poor (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796467)

But they still make the majority of science/engineering grad students in the US? ... Where education is renowned for being expensive.

 

Re:It's a numbers game (3, Interesting)

WallaceAndGromit (910755) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796521)

I work for a research branch at NASA that routinely funds basic research at the Graduate level (both Master's and Ph.D.). Unfortunately, many of the students working on the projects that we fund are from foreign nations, and this is due to a lack of either qualified or willing US citizens in Graduate programs around the country studying in our area of interest (which is not space related). The issue is a major problem, and the poster and slashdot readers should be concerned. Be concerned, if for no other reason than many of your tax dollars are being spent to support foreign students studying in the US.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796561)

"Be concerned, if for no other reason than many of your tax dollars are being spent to support foreign students studying in the US."

So? Why exactly are domestic students better uses of taxpayer dollars then foreign students?

Re:It's a numbers game (4, Interesting)

Codifex Maximus (639) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796655)

Do these foreign students pay taxes in the US? If so, how long did they or do they pay? Is it a net gain for the US or a loss? If a loss then why is it done?

Ah questions...

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796599)

You sir are a bigot.

I - a Canadian - earned two advanced degrees in Belgium, where tuition cost me around EUR 500 a year; Belgian taxes paid the rest. Like me, I bet more than a few of those foreign grad students in America will stick around and end up contributing back to your precious tax dollars.

Even if they don't, they still return home to spread your way of life, which is part of the reason they are allowed to come in the first place.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796653)

Who cares? What we're paying for is the research, and it's getting done. If you want a subsidy to help get Americans graduate degrees, work for that.

Re:It's a numbers game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796525)

You're looking at the wrong numbers. You don't want to know how many people are in China vs. how many are in the U.S.; you want to know how many more engineering graduates there are in China than in the United States. It doesn't matter if you have six billion people if you only 0.0001% of those people are in a position to gain entrance to a graduate school.

Re:It's a numbers game (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796623)

Yes, forgive me for not doing detailed demographic research for a Slashdot comment. 2 billion to 300 million is enough of a differential to, in most cases, render the others negligible.

As someone who went through med school... (4, Funny)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796393)

...there sure aren't as many "americans" here as there used to be. Of course, I mean white anglo-saxon protestant males. A lot more minorities. A lot more first and second generation americans.

Most people live outside the US (5, Insightful)

The-Pheon (65392) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796395)

The best students in the world go to the best Universities in the world. The Universities in the United States consistently dominate the top universities in the world.[1] Thus, it isn't surprising that many people from other countries come here to study.

[1] http://www.arwu.org/rank/2007/ARWU2007_Top100.htm [arwu.org]

Re: Most people live outside the US (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796649)

The best students in the world go to the best Universities in the world. The Universities in the United States consistently dominate the top universities in the world.
But that seems to be changing, from what I've read.

The U.S. is dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796397)

The median income difference between an engineer with an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree is smaller than the median income difference between an engineer with an undergraduate degree and an OBGYN. Let's see corporate America outsource that job.

Re:The U.S. is dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796473)

Let's see corporate America outsource that job.

You better bet that the insurance companies are working on doing just that. Remote doctor and local cheap nursing staff for everything but actual procedures seems like a very real possibility.

Not for the upper middle class or rich of course, but the working poor could stuck with this sort of thing very easily.

Bullshit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796399)

I have learned that 90% of my department is from India and many others are from China. All the students come here to study and there are only 7 US citizens in the engineering program this year.

90% Indian? This is either bullshit, or you're going to a very strange department. Are you really saying that total percentage of Europeans, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and American students is less then 10%? I find that hard to believe. 20%-60% Indian I could believe.

Two things (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796409)

a) an upstream problem: US public schools suck - badly, that's a bad thing
b) American having a freer, more efficient job market than in most places realize they don't *need* to go to graduate school, that's a good thing.

affirmative action/ PC liberalism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796415)

posting anonymously because it's true.

Easy answer (5, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796421)

Very few Americans require anything more than a BS to get a job with a Computer Engineering or Computer Science degree. On the other hand, it's easier for a non-citizen to get a job if they have a MS from a domestic school. As well, it's generally easier for them to get into shool than get into a job (the job comes after being here a few years and getting that MS), and gives a nice ~2 year jump on the whole green card process. If they somehow fail to find a job after getting the MS, there's always the option to continue on with a PhD while looking for something that will actually pay the bills.

The goal of college for 90% of Americans is to get a better job. Therefore 90% of Americans aren't going to spend any more time than necessary in school, and if they do go for higher degrees it's usually for something that will increase their pay. A BS in CE doesn't get paid much less than a MS in CE, but a BS in CE with an MBA who's promoted into management does get paid quite a bit more.

Re:Easy answer (2, Interesting)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796555)

You are talking about money, pay and jobs. But what about interest in knowledge and the subject matter? Is that a fringe aspect for americans?

Re:Easy answer (4, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796603)

But what about interest in knowledge and the subject matter? Is that a fringe aspect for americans?
No, those things can be accomplished while working in industry. Work & study are not mutually exclusive.
From personal experience, I appreciate learning in an applied engineering environment rather than the theory of academia.

Re:Easy answer (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796673)

You are talking about money, pay and jobs. But what about interest in knowledge and the subject matter? Is that a fringe aspect for americans?

In my experience, yes. Most Americans go to college to "get a better job" or because they want to enter a certain field. They are, to coin a phrase, "goal oriented" -- school is a funnel into which they jump and once they get out the other end they can go back to living their lives, only now they will have been granted permission to enter into the career of their choice. So-called elite schools are desirable, not because they offer a better learning experience, but because they will "look better" to potential employers.

Re:Easy answer (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796657)

I think you are onto something. In the US, having a Ph.D. in scientific fields like physics, chemistry, etc. is really the only way you have a chance of doing cutting edge work in those areas. However, in engineering, unless you would like to be a professor (a good lifestyle, but not for everyone), there is really no reason to get an advanced degree. The BS alone is usually your ticket to the good stuff, assuming you hook up with the right company or firm. Also, as you said, the pay scales don't increase rapidly enough per degree to make the time and energy worth it for most. In other countries, these assumptions may be different. For example: they may have more rapid pay increases per degree and a higher threshold of education to get to the good engineering bits. In addition, US advanced degree programs in most fields are quite excellent and carry some worldwide prestige (although you wouldn't necessarily want to brag about getting a high school degree in the US).

Immigrant nation (1)

ahbi (796025) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796675)

The US is a nation of immigrants. Even those of us (or more accurately our families) who have been here since it was New Amsterdam have that sense of being immigrants.
Which, on tangential note, is why the closing of the frontier hurt the character of this country.

Now what the US does (and used to do better, but we are still good at it) is brain drain the rest of the world. Immigration is a filtering process. It is hard. You have to have a high level of ambition, "get-up and go" to even make it from your continent to ours (even make it to Canada, which is easier).

The typical 3 generation scheme for immigration is (and you can see this clearly in the Mexican/Latino/Chicano/Hispanic immigrants) 1st generation, works shitting menial jobs, and works them hard & speaks little English; 2nd generation makes soundly into the middle class, proud to go college, speaks both English & their ancestral tongue; 3rd generation fully assimilated, expects to go to college as a right, is kind of comfortable and lazy, wonders why Grandma speaks that funny language.

In the 19th century Europe used to go out and bring resources from the rest of the world back to Europe (the Belgian Congo being the most brutal, IIRC). Now, the US leaves the physical resources (or pays a pretty good amount for them, relatively) but takes the best people.

So, what gets into the US is some of the best and brightest the foreign country has to offer. They of course can out compete the US students. Especially, when Grad School is their ticket into the country and jobs.

Now, what used to happen was that these people stayed in the US. Now with easy air travel and globalization, they are returning to their countries of origin.

You have asked and answered your own question (4, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796441)

You have fundamentally asked and answered your own question and don't even realize it. The fundamental reason is very simple, grad students are coming from the countries that will be able to provide meaningful employment to those grads. In other words, outsourcing, or at the very least the prospect of outsourcing has scared away your potential fellow American students.

It's a matter of economics, are you going to invest that much money and time in something when significant portions of the grad level work is being exported out of the country? With major corporations from the likes of Microsoft to IBM hiring principally outside the US in China and India, this is where the jobs will be and thus, where the grad students are coming from.

The real slap in the face of the whole thing is that said companies than have the audacity to complain that we don't have enough educated workers to provide a workforce here in America.

Re:You have asked and answered your own question (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796551)

It's a matter of economics, are you going to invest that much money and time in something when significant portions of the grad level work is being exported out of the country?
The problem with your logic is that many foreign grad students want to remain in the US to work after graduation. There are many excellent technical colleges outside of the US for students looking to earn degrees and remain in their country. Foreign workers who want to work in the US find it easier to get an H1B with a US graduate degree.

Re:You have asked and answered your own question (2, Interesting)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796661)

I work in a traditionally underpaid part of the tech-industry (entertainment software), and I can still make a good living at it. Not "rock star" good, but "new car and house" good.

I use to think that the Microsoft's of the industry were just trying to save some cash by hiring workers overseas, until I had to interview for a co-worker. I'm surprised at a)the limited number of people in the US looking for a programming job and b)the almost complete lack of skill by those who did.

Long story short, after a year of looking we couldn't fill the position at any price.

come on... SAY it... (2, Insightful)

seven of five (578993) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796447)

no market for engineers in US. Market for engineers in India & China.

Next month, no market for lawyers, doctors in US... we'll all flip burgers.

Foreign students pay more (1)

FooBarBlatDing (681076) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796451)

Could it be that foreign students pay higher tuitions, so there is an incentive for the schools to accept them in preference to American students?

Re:Foreign students pay more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796573)

yes they pay higher tuitions, but generally that's because they aren't receiving any of the funding that OUR governments put towards post-secondary education. The reason many of us can afford to go to university (Canada/Britain) or College (U.S.A.) is because our government helps to subsidize the cost.

I would actually say that it's probably illegal for them to charge more for foreign students once they've been accepted.

Depends on the place (0, Flamebait)

btavshan (699524) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796457)

This is probably going to be modded flamebait, but I'm going to share my observations anyway. There is generally a large percentage of foreign students in graduate programs in general in the U.S. (e.g. 3 or 4 or so of 12 in my biophysics graduate program). However, I've found that the percentage of foreign students increases the more...easy the graduate school is to get in to. I have friends attending less selective graduate programs, and they have many more peers that are foreign students, mostly because there are many more graduate schools in the U.S. than in foreign countries, meaning the competition to get into graduate school is overall much lower in the U.S. Don't believe the hype industries put out--the U.S. already produces far more science/engineering PhDs than it can reasonably employ. This is in large part due to the sheer number of graduate programs. Foreign students are simply taking advantage of this fact to become trained in a field that would be difficult ot get into in their home country.

Quite simple (5, Interesting)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796459)

A lot of foreign students are here on a foreign student visa. If they fuck up in school, they get sent back. So, by accepting a foreign student, the department has a very good idea that that student will be putting in 110% into the degree program, doing shit work for no money, whatever, when a domestic student is more likely to just tell an abusive department to fuck off and die and move to another school. It may also be that the student is less likely to be partying on the weekends (social stigma), and so grades won't be much of an issue if they made it that far.

I thought about going to grad school for Biology as I have a keen interest in various fish and some local rivers & streams ecology that I picked up on my own. I had a sit down with the Dean of the Biology department where we basically shot the shit for an hour or two, talking about various subjects, including programs at other schools. He seemed surprised that not only did I know who the "big names" in my relatively obscure interests, but that I was also reading their papers and applying them. He looked at me and asked me point blank: Why the hell aren't you in my department? And I didn't have a good answer. He went on to explain that there's a ton of people in Biology grad school, but none of them were actually biologists. Instead, they were padding grades and trying to get into med school. While he was most certainly happy that they were going on with their lives, he said finding people actually interested in Biology was like pulling teeth. Basically: he'd pick someone like me, regardless of my GRE scores for the most part, over a mountain of med school hopefuls because it was his job, as far as he was concerned, to educate biologists. It was an interesting conversation. "Man, you could get your doctorate just doing what you're doing now at home on your own dime..." :P

And no, I didn't go to grad school. Not yet, anyway. :)

Re:Quite simple (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796533)

And no, I didn't go to grad school. Not yet, anyway. :)
After that long anecdote, you didn't even supply an answer to the question!

Re:Quite simple (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796695)

Sounds absolutely perfect for academia.

For my $.02 (OK, well, $40,000), I'd rather learn by doing. I have more opportunity to make and to do in industry than I did in college. If somebody else wants to pay for an advanced degree, I'm game...but I'm certainly not going to foot another bill.

Too busy working for a living. (5, Insightful)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796469)

Mostly I think it is because we're all too busy working for a living. Those who can afford college without having to work, do go into medicine and law as you said. Especially law. If you control the law you can control the money.

Most Americans, even if they are really smart and work hard in high-school, still have to work while attending college and have little time for serious study. By the time they've finished four years of University, they have between $60,000.00 and $100,000.00 in debt. They look around and realize that if they go to graduate school, they will probably double that debt.

Now, they've worked for most of the time they've been at University, and haven't truly been able to get all the benefits of dedicated study, and they are faced with more of the same. More debt, etc.

Because they have work experience and because they can take jobs that pay reasonably well, they do so, figuring it is best to cut their losses.

This is somewhat short-sighted, but, it is inevitable.

A foreign student in the U.S. usually (from my experience) attended non-graduate school in their home country and it was a free-ride one way or another (I'm not saying they aren't smart and didn't have to work really hard). They are now in the U.S. attending graduate school, usually on some sort of scholarship (not saying they didn't earn it).

They don't need to work to pay for school. They are not accruing massive debt. They can't just take a reasonable paying job in the U.S. because their student visa doesn't allow it. In their home country, reasonable paying jobs (without an advanced degree) aren't as plentiful. Their choices are, continue in graduate school while not accruing massive debts and yet being able to dedicate 100% of their efforts to learning and mastering the material, or return to their home nation and compete for jobs without and advanced degree. It's a pretty easy choice.

Re:Too busy working for a living. (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796643)

By the time they've finished four years of University, they have between $60,000.00 and $100,000.00 in debt.

Roughly when did this pattern start? 60s? 70s? 80s? And how long does it take them to pay it off (mean and sd)?

Cash ! Get Rich ! Make it ! (1, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796475)

You americans are so pumped up with "making it out in the big world, big time" that, jumping into the foray to make cash as soon as you can.

its cultural.

Anti-intellectualism in the US (2, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796483)

How many times are the nerd, the handyman, and the car mechanic ridiculed as uncool, oafish lugs, while the wall street weenies, the lawyers and the "environmental education" majors held as paragons of success? Despite Feminism, girls are still taught that they "aren't good in math", and now with the emasculating of boy students (no running, no recess, no physical sports), the same extends. When a kid can claim "body by Warcraft" as a reason for not doing physical chores and get away with it, you know that practical, hard, rigorous work is a thing of the past. The foreign families know that hard work and high education matter, thats why their kids get good grades and come here to study in English.

I blame the internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796491)

No really, stick with me.

I'm an engineer. I've done hardware, software, and systems design for over 20 years. I make things that work.

When I was a kid there wasn't any internet. If you wanted information you went to the library. You had to WANT to know something bad enough to invest more than 20 keystrokes to find it out. So you thought about things.

Also, when I was a kid, there weren't computers. There was one (an IBM 1130) in the regional high school. So if I wanted to CREATE something I had to do it with sticks and wires and glue and batteries and switches and light bulbs and motors and things. Physical objects. Not clickety-dragety nice pictures to look at, real physical artifacts.

So kids these days don't value information, and they don't see the point of building things. So our country is loosing out to indians and chinese who DO see the point, and work hard enough to get sent half-way across the world when our kids sit in their basements with engineering schools in the same town, clicking away at their idiotic video games.

I fear for our country.

Simple (0, Flamebait)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796493)

American Public Education SUCKS.

If the top grad schools had to stick to American only students, they'd go bankrupt in just a few years.

Thanks to "no moron left behind" and "teachers unions" and our dumbass politicians that let myths (aka intelligent design) be taught as science, the number of potential grad students coming from America gets slimmer every year.

I'd rant more, but I'm too busy learning Mandarin.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796593)

>American Public Education SUCKS.
You get what you pay for. Feel free to donate more of your pay to improve your school board's standards.

>If the top grad schools had to stick to American only students, they'd go bankrupt in just a few years.
From drop-outs? Do you have statistics on foreign drop-outs compared to American drop-outs? I'm curious, it might be interesting to see.

>Thanks to "no moron left behind" and "teachers unions" and our dumbass politicians[...]
Please write to said politicians (in English) and share your views. Expose the issue to more people (friends, family) and encourage them to vote for politicians who will fix the problems you mentioned.

>I'd rant more, but I'm too busy learning Mandarin.
Thanks.

Show me the money (2, Interesting)

rivenmyst137 (467812) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796503)

"I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law and that is why there are so few Americans in engineering. Is this true?"

No. It's not that the smart ones are, in particular, not going into science and engineering. It's that more _people in general_ are going into things like law, the financial sector, etc., which means that statistically more of the really good people will go in those directions as well (although we can, of course, point out that someone who is good at law or finance might not be good at engineering or science, and vice versa). Science and engineering no longer have the draw they used to, particularly after the tech bubble burst.

I don't really know why this is. Could be a lot of things. Could be that we're more materialistic, and that yes, you can ultimately make more money in those sectors (although most of the people I know who graduated from law school are fleeing the practice of law like rats from a sinking ship). Could be that people used to go into science because it was more prestigious and indeed patriotic to do so after Sputnik scared the living shit out of us. Nothing like a hostile nation launching something over your heads for the first time to convince you that falling behind technologically could leave you in the middle of mushroom cloud, momentarily wishing you'd studied more math before you vaporize.

Combine that with the fact that tech is the best way to get out of India and China and come to the US, and maybe that explains the disparity.

Regardless, it says very bad things about our future as a country.

my take (-1, Flamebait)

spads (1095039) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796509)

For one thing, Americans generally don't want to work that hard. They just want the money, like you say the doctors or lawyers. Also, I think the foreigners frequently cheat on their GREs. They get over here and it seems like every one you meet is the top .0001 (of course, some of those are lying). But then again, I imagine the state in one country who shall remain nameless startegizes to share out the answers to the tests and so-forth. Seems counter-intuitive that they would want to help the brain drain, unless maybe 1/1000 are spies!

Re:my take (1)

delong (125205) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796645)

For one thing, Americans generally don't want to work that hard. They just want the money, like you say the doctors or lawyers

MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, that's it. People that don't want to work that hard go into the two hardest grad programs for the two professions that put in the longest hours. I'm sure you hit it right on the head there, friend.

Unprepared (0, Flamebait)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796511)

Because Engineering is hard. Our precious little snowflakes are growing up so pampered from real difficulty or challenge that something like a Masters in Engineering is out of their league. Our school systems can't flunk anyone because it would cause the child to feel bad. They also can't strongly encourage the truly bright students, because then the other children will feel less special. The overall result is that our childhood education doesn't prepare our young students for difficult college majors. This is mostly the parents (as a whole) fault. Students from countries where struggling past difficulty is just part of life have been outshining tender American kids for decades now. The proof from Futurama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recurring_human_characters_from_Futurama#Professor_Ogden_Wernstrom [wikipedia.org] "[Professor] Wernstrom demands and receives tenure, a big research grant, a lab, and five graduate students (at least three of them Chinese by his request)."

Re:Unprepared (1, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796571)

Because Engineering is hard. Our precious little snowflakes are growing up so pampered from real difficulty or challenge that something like a Masters in Engineering is out of their league.
It's not difficulty its opportunity. Most Americans who get undergraduate engineering degrees don't continue their education because there are plenty of entry level jobs available.

One last American degree to validate the others (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796513)

It's simple: For economic reasons, many people complete their schooling outside the U.S., often where they grew up. But since many employers don't know whether a given school somewhere else in the world is reputable or not, many people get one last American degree, to "validate" their education elsewhere (both to U.S. employers, as well as anyone else who thinks American unis are the best). And the Master's degree is one of the shorter ones to get here.

Comps? (0, Flamebait)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796529)

I recently finished my Master's Degree in computer science. Shortly after I started my program completely dropped the comprehensive examinations to get into the PhD program.

The reason?

Comps require months of heavy studying of material from prior classes to do well, and it was severely biased against US students. Most students from other countries are here on Student Visas which forbid them from working (except as TAs/RAs). US Citizens, on the other hand, usually have jobs and sometimes families and cannot devote the same level of time to such a vigorous set of exams.

I hope to see more colleges considering what they can do to make sure their programs aren't biased against US citizens.

Here are a couple of reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796531)

First universities can get a lot more money through foreign students since they often pay the full tuition so the universities actively recruit them. Secondly, the students who come here are the people with the drive to succeed since they had to take the risk to make it happen. Lastly coming on a student visa is probably the simplest way to transition to permanent residency if they desire to stay here.

Brawndo U (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796537)

Would you really want Beef Supreme in your classes?

Engineering only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796541)

For some reason, Indians are crazy about engineering. Everyone competes to get into the best schools, where they all work very hard. The engineering schools (the IITs and others) are really top-notch. Finally, from what I've heard the engineering degree is so common in India that you need a graduate degree to get a good job. So it's not surprising that there are lots of Indian students in your engineering department. The same factors are at work, albeit to a lesser extent, with the Chinese students.

On the other hand, I have seen very few Indian students in math, which is my field. There are a fair number of Chinese students though. Of course, I go to a public school, and we don't have as much money for international students, which may skew things somewhat.

med school has fewer? Hahahaahaa... (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796545)

I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law

Medicine is not the place to go - there is an insane glut of grad students and postdocs. Competition is extremely fierce. If you're thinking of going for any sort of specialty practice- forget it. Everyone wants to be a *insert narrow specialty* doctor; nobody wants to be a general practitioner or go into pediatrics where we really need doctors. So, we have 50 zillion hand surgeons, and a line a mile out the doors of all the family docs.

As for medical research - our lab is chock full of foreign students. The lab director prefers them because they're basically slaves- they want desperately to be in the US, and the lab holds their visa. They'll put up with shit pay, no/little credit for their work, insane hours, and unreasonable demands. They're just happy to be on US soil.

Someone told me once that the lab couldn't attract US candidates because said candidates were going for higher profile, better paying positions.

If you want to be successful coming out of grad school- go for engineering, either mechanical or electrical. Big shortages predicted in both fields, from what I've heard.

Whatever you do, skip research - unless you look forward to flushing several years of your life down the drain to help some professor reel in a research grant, who'll barely care to list your name on the paper. And that's *if* the research isn't scooped by another lab...

Re:med school has fewer? Hahahaahaa... (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796641)

Another example of "Race to the Bottom".

A way to stay in the USA (2, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796559)

In grad school, many of my foreign classmates were in grad school because that was the easiest way to stay here in the country - according to them.

Also, as an American who has a graduate degree, all I can say is, unless you're going to teach at the college level, do research, or need a graduate degree for some professional certification (Law, Medicine, Psychotherapy, etc...), a graduate degree is completely worthless and a waste of time. Want to learn more in a field that you are truly passionate about? Learn on your own. Grad school will just stifle your interest and creativity (playing to professors BS games, is one way they do it) and they'll make you do a lot of BS busy work becuase some bureaucrat with a Ph.D. somewhere thinks that's what you "must" do.

Just my bitter opinion.

why waste 7 years of your life (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796565)

.. only to get outsourced by cheaper foreign labor and be unemployed? MBA's are teh big thing to get and law degrees. These jobs are staying in the us because they are valued more.

Simple economics.

The payoff probably isn't worth it (2, Insightful)

zullnero (833754) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796567)

I know a lot of guys with grad degrees in the tech field who are making as much as guys with BA's (or less in some cases). It looks impressive on a resume, but there isn't an automatic payoff like with the medical or legal professions. Unless someone wants to develop their own product or do research for a major corporation, there's little reason to spend 3-4 more years and come out. Guys with BA's have been out for a few years and already have industry experience under their belts, and that's worth a whole lot more in the consulting business than a thesis paper on "the practical applications of sight tracking optics in regards to voice activated GUI systems", unless that's the main product of the company you're trying to get in with.

But I know a few companies offhand that will hire a PhD on the spot...but those companies don't really make anything nor do they pay very much. They are patent houses.

It's economics (3, Informative)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796577)

Philip Greenspun has a very good article on why becoming a scientist doesn't make sense for most people:

http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science [greenspun.com]

The article is titled "Women in Science," but it basically argues that the preparation costs for becoming a scientist (college, grad school, post doc) are so high, and the economic rewards so low and uncertain, that intelligent people are more likely to be drawn to other fields like medicine.

Re: Why Is US Grad School Mainly Non-US Students? (1, Interesting)

Codifex Maximus (639) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796581)

Hard to get a job in programming these days unless you are Indian, from India, or planning to move there. :P

YMMV

Why is that? (2, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796635)

"All the students come here to study and there are only 7 US citizens in the engineering program this year. Why is that?"

Less than 20% of the MBA's in India are employable. They skate thru school, sharing test answers and learning little. The system there makes no effort except to get them out the door. The educational system only wants to say how many have been produced, happy to ignore that the certificates are worthless.

The individuals that recognize the travesty and know that the system in the USA is legitimate by comparison, spread the word. The ones that can come over do it for the legitimacy and the true value of an educational system rooted in honesty, hard work and individual betterment.

The scale of the Indian & Chinese populations means that what is a small number over there seems large in comparison here.

My take (1)

UPZ (947916) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796647)

Being Indian, I know that there are disproportionately more engineering students in India than seats available in graduate programs. There is also a cultural emphasis on education where parents expect their kids to get atleast BS if not MS or phd. So Indian geeks apply elsewhere because there's nowhere else to go. The problem now gets worse: since Indian parents make significantly less than American parents, and no financial aid system, paying out-of-state tuition in American dollars wipes out a family's lifetime of savings. But now that India has cash from outsourcing, the govt maybe will start building more universities so that parents don't have to spend their lifetime of savings and send their kids thousands of miles across the planet to get a decent education.

It is worth more to them in practical terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796651)

It's a cultural and job-market difference. In America the most direct path to the top of your profession is to get an undergraduate degree, land an entry-level job at a good company and start climbing the ladder. Unless your industry is academia or medicine, grad school is unlikely to be an efficient part of your career path. There's a good reason for that too: only in academia and medicine are people hired specifically for the content of their academic experience. You don't learn brain surgery on the job, you learn it in school. Same with literary criticism. But the vast majority of high-level, knowledge-specific technical and professional jobs cannot be learned in school. Another part of this is that grad school is usually much more specific than a technologist's career will be. Again, that's not true for academia and medicine. You study exactly the specialty you plan to work in. Technology and most other fields are not so strictly divvied up. In business, programming, engineering, etc. you are going to have a widely varied career. No graduate degree is really going to mean a lot in terms of knowledge or job effectiveness.

For Indian and Chinese students it is different. A US company isn't going to give a rip about your PhD in software engineering when they want to hire a good programmer; they're going to care about your job experience, references and code samples. But an Indian or Chinese firm *is* going to care about the education. The pedigree is respected there, probably to a fault. There is more of a rote ladder system, and education is accepted currency. So your doctorate programs in computer science are going to be filled by foreigners... the Americans are on the job and have little use for specialized, academic knowledge in a highly dynamic, practical profession.

Short vs Long-term expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#20796667)

I think that many Americans don't see much benefit in going to graduate school and it's more of a cultural phenomenon than anything else. The long-term benefits don't quite outweigh the short term ones in today's market. One can make up the salary difference in a relatively small period of time. Plus, by the time you're finished with with a graduate degree, you're either too old or the industry has erased your knowledge gains.

Above all, there has been a push towards a management paradigm. Delegation rules the day. Many Americans are unwilling to become cogs in the machine and want to find themselves in a position to manage the machine - even engineers. This is achieved much easily by securing a good job and moving up the ranks than leaving school in late 20's and starting anew. China and India are similar to what America used to be in 40's to 70's - deep specialization. Their students want to assume a single role and do it well. The attention span of American students is somewhat shortened in this regard.

That's my understanding of the problem, if you could call it such.

because... (1)

tavita (463666) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796677)

US graduate school is not mainly US students because all the bases is belong to us.

TV for one. (5, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#20796683)

It's very rare to see a fictional TV show revolving around an engineer, mathematician, physicist or hard science major of any kind. The only counterexample I can think of offhand is Ross from Friends, but to the extent that his job was mentioned at all it was usually in some ridiculous context. Contrast that with the hundreds of shows there have been about doctors, lawyers, judges, financiers and reporters. Hence, those professions are considered sexy and lucrative, even when they aren't particularly so (public defenders and beat reporters), whereas scientists are considered obscure and arcane at best, geeky and borderline irresponsible at worst. The one looming exception is the astronaut/astrophysicist type on sci-fi shows, but what they tend to do, blast through galaxies and meet aliens, is something so unrealistic that it doesn't lend itself to employment aspirations.

Of course, it's not just Americans who watch TV but the problem particular to Americans is that their real-life experience seems to parallel what they see on TV, they deal with plenty of brokers, doctors and lawyers in real life and have little contact with engineers and scientists. Americans also pay their doctors and lawyers extremely highly. In other countries doctors and lawyers are not quite so highly compensated and engineers have higher social status overall.
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