Common App Sees Rise in International Applicants

The highest number of applicants came from China, India, and Canada.
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  • International student applicants consistently make up 4-5% of all Common App applicants.
  • But during the pandemic, the number of applicants fell from many countries where Common App typically sees its highest number of international applicants.
  • For the 2021-2022 academic year, international applicants were back on the rise from countries like China and Korea and overall have increased by 63% since 2014-2015.

The number of international student applicants rose by 63% between the 2014-2015 and 2021-2022 academic years, according to new data from the Common App.

Though the total rise in international applicants on the Common App steadily increased throughout the period, the number of applicants from countries like China and Korea rose for the first time since around 2018 — prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International student enrollment saw similar rebounds during the same academic year after also plummeting during the pandemic.

The largest number of international applicants in 2021-2022 came from China, a majority who applied Early Decision (65%), suggesting a strong familiarity with the U.S. college admissions process. This comes as no surprise as China has long been the home country for the most international students.

The largest percentage increase in international applicants, however, came from Nigeria, rising 237% since 2014-2015. According to experts, the next wave of international students will come from Africa as interest from applicants in China and India begins to wane.

There were striking demographic differences in international applicants by various countries.

Less than 2 in 5 applicants in Pakistan (37%) and Nepal (39%) identified their legal sex as female. By comparison, female applicants accounted for more than half of all applicants in Turkey (51%), Canada (54%), and Nigeria (54%).

In Nepal, 2 in 5 applicants (40%) identified themselves as first-generation students, whereas in India (8%), Singapore (8%), and Korea (9%), less than a tenth of applicants say they would be the first in their family to attend college.

When looking at applicants' socioeconomic status, the majority of applicants in Nepal (88%) and Pakistan (66%) were eligible for a Common App fee waiver. Less than 10% of applicants in China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Canada, and India reported the same eligibility.

The average number of applications per applicant also varied greatly by country, with Nepal (12) and Pakistan (11) having the highest numbers. Canada and Singapore had the lowest number of applications per applicant, at about 5 applications.

Applicants in Singapore were most likely to apply to highly selective institutions, with nearly all (94%) applying to at least one. High percentages of applicants in Turkey (81%),

Korea (79%), China (76%), Taiwan (75%), India (74%), and Canada (74%) did the same.