Georgia ranks 12th in college international student enrollment

Darton College international student Priyanshi Naik says many of her friends from overseas attend Georgia colleges / Sarah Bleau

A new national report stacks Georgia at 12th against other states in enrollment of international students. the largest number of students attending Georgia Tech, Emory University, Georgia State University, University of Georgia and Savannah College of Art and Design.

"We do have a lot of good schools here -- Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, other good schools," says Alan Zhang, an English professor at Darton College and a former international student himself.

But many foreign students are attending smaller colleges in Southwest Georgia.

Priyanshi Naik, a sophomore at Darton College and Zambia, Africa, native, is one of more than 155 international students enrolled at Darton.

"At first it was hard for me to adjust but once I got into this 'college life' it just gets better," she says.

Zhang says money plays a large role in foreign students enrolling in Georgia colleges.

"Cost of living I think, we are relatively lower than other parts of the country; tuition wise, locally with Darton College and other smaller schools that's also very attractive," he says.

Naik says she plans to attend the University of Georgia for pharmaceuticals or physical therapy later on, but starting at a two-year school helped her budget.

"Being an international student -- it is expensive to study in foreign countries so I was shortening my list to two-year college because it would turn cheaper," she says.

Zhang says when he came to Georgia there were efforts being made by the Board of Regents and different colleges and universities to attract international students to the Peach State's higher education facilities.

According to the University System of Georgia, there are more than 19,000 international students from 200 countries attending colleges in Georgia.

Priyanshi says proximity to family in Atlanta influenced her as did her dad who she says tells her America a land of opportunity.

"The level of education in America is very high and everyone wants to come here or get degrees from here at least and take them home so we can get better jobs," says Naik.