Why should I Study in the US Instead of in NZ?

For those of you who’ve chosen to go to the US, why did you make that choice instead of staying at home?

I will quickly brush over the main reasons of what motivated me to try to go to a US university.

First of all, is the liberal arts style education. At the age of 18, I, like most other people, had no idea really what I wanted to do in life. In NZ / AUS, I really didn’t like that you are expected to make a major decision that really impacts what course your future career and life will go. Whether I decided to pursue an engineering degree, commerce degree or decided to go to med school, committing my future and pretty much selecting my career path at such a young age just felt really uncomfortable. US universities typically have much more freedom and provide a liberal arts style education. Here at Duke, we don’t declare our major until half way through second year. For the first 2 years, you are able to explore different fields before deciding what you want to specialise in. For example, so far I’ve taken classes in Chinese, Art History, Computer Science, Biology, Maths and Writing. I’m intending to major in economics (finance concentration) which I thought I would before I started uni, but now I’ve also decided to pick up a second major in computer science. It amazes me to think that if I stayed at the University of Auckland (I attended for one semester initially) I would have never been exposed to computer science and would not have the opportunity to pursue a career in tech, something that I’m heavily considering. I’ve witnessed my roommate change his mind on what he wants to do so many times: from investment banking, to engineering, to med school, tech and back to investment banking. If we didn’t attend a US university, we simply wouldn’t have the flexibility to still be able to decide what we want to do with our futures and the decision would have been largely made during our final year of high school, which seems ridiculous to me since I’m in a liberal arts education.

Another simple reason why I wanted to apply to the US was that having gotten into University with year 12 grades, as a lot of people in my school had, students typically became demotivated in year 13 and it was viewed as a year that didn’t matter. As a very competitive person, to me, it seemed like excelling in classes in year 12 was a little bit wasted in that even those who performed much lower than me would make the grade boundaries in year 13 and we would end up with the same result in the same place out of high school. I thought, why not take advantage of my academic achievements and use them to gain something that others without the same achievements wouldn’t be able to? Furthermore, applying to US universities was something to keep me motivated during year 13, and not simply slack around knowing I’ve already gotten my university entrance in Auckland.

Finally, I simply knew that the universities in the US are the best in the world for undergraduate education. Attending one would place me with the best opportunities, so if I had the potential to get into one, then passing this opportunity would be something that I could only regret.

I applied to US schools because of the offer of liberal arts education. I didn’t know what I wanted to study and going to the US meant that I had more time to decide on what I wanted to study.

US schools have a sense of spirit that can’t be found in any other school. College sports is huge, and it’s crazy how passionate the schools get whenever a game comes around.

Finally, just by touring around a US university you can get the feel that the facilities are honestly just so much more impressive than in other countries.

Before anything … I’m not saying that universities elsewhere are mediocre in any way because they are in fact internationally recognised and are great in their respects. However, after touring several universities in America, I found that it was very clear that education over there was definitely for me.

First of all, coming out of high-school I wasn’t one hundred percent sure about my passions and career path. I considered dentistry at La Trobe University, Biomedicine or Commerce at Melbourne University and Law or Medicine at Monash University. This would mean that if I wanted to switch courses in an Australian university I’d have to start over and go through a confusing process. However, the liberal arts education offered in the US left me more time to explore and decide what I wanted to study.

Secondly, there was a pride and a sense of community surrounding universities in the states that just did not exist in Australia. People were proud to be where they were and it was almost like a competition with other universities in terms of college sports. Adding on to this, the college life described by many students was also appealing with unique traditions and a huge party scene.

Finally, to experience the beauty of some of these schools would require you to visit some of them because they have some of the most amazing campuses. The architecture and atmosphere of these schools could not be found elsewhere.

Hey there! So I’m heading to the states for uni in August, and I decided to go there over somewhere in NZ for a few reasons:

1 - Academics. The quality of eduction in the US college system is pretty much unparalleled (just look at global uni rankings and things). It’s also very open and liberal in that changing major is exceptionally easy - I won’t have to actually decide on a major until the start of my 3rd year. I can study almost whatever I’d want to for 2 years before deciding what I actually enjoy studying at university level and what I’d want a career in. Here in NZ you can’t really do that. I could major in biochemistry or philosophy, I just don’t know yet.
2 - Sport. I’m a rower, but this is relevant for all athletes. The US is one of the only places where I’ll be able to gain a top notch education while also being able to do my sport at a high level. And it’s all organised to be incorporated into my college experience to compliment my study by the uni. If I were to row at a high level here, it would be through two different organisations and there would be a lot of clashes and both my sport and academics would suffer, but not over there.
3 - The Experience. I’ve always wanted to go overseas for uni. Travelling and experiencing the US will be a great life experience, as will the intense college culture of US universities. The campuses are amazing, as are the facilities, staff and the social culture of these places. Otago has the social, but not in the same way - not with the college community feel, supporting the college sports teams and all living together on tight-knit campuses like US colleges do.

I hope that’s enough to give an overview on why I will be making the trip there for study. NZ is still awesome in my opinion, the US just suited my desires for what I’d want out of a bit uni more. There are lots of different options for different types of people here, as there are in the US too though, so it’s all about finding where best suits you. Hope that helps!


Hi Anonymous 28,

There’s a abundance of reasons to study overseas vs “at home”. Quite a few of these have already been covered above so I’ll just elaborate on some reasons that were personally relevant to me. Since you didn’t sepecify which country you’re from, I’ll give you my two cents into a NZ to US transition.

  1. Networks- going from NZ to NY networking is a dramatic shift. A huge percentage of the world’s top firms have headquarters in NYC (or america for that matter). Even if you’re not going to NYC, top schools are a melting pot of fascinating and very connected people. The people I’ve met have ranged from royalty, to cutting edge entrepreneurs, to global leaders, to hedge fund managers. I absolutely love the people in NZ, and there’s undoubtedly some fantastic networking to be done; however, in a professional capacity, I’ve found the people you bump into in top schools in the US vs NZ are very different.

  2. Opportunity and culture of ambition - New Zealand is a fantastic country filled with lovely people; however, it’s culture is relatively “chill” compared to the states. Depending on your personality type and expectations from life, this may or may not suit you. I personally found that being thrust into the intense NYC environment was a shock to the system, but one that I embraced and has supported me to achieve things I know I wouldn’t have otherwise. When everyone around you is getting “dream” jobs and internships, it shifts your perspective about the norm. Suddenly all your friends are aiming for and applying for internships at Google or Goldman Sachs, so it seems only natural for you to too. When you’re aiming for these kinds of goals, you naturally achieve some of them too.

  3. Postgraduate opportunities - A GPA from a selective school is stronger than one from one which isn’t selective. Why is this? GPAs are relative to the quality of your cohort - an A grade at X university isn’t necessarily made equal to an A grade from H university. Therefore, applying postgrad with the same GPA from a tier 3 school is not considered equal to that same GPA from a top tier school. Not to say you can’t go to great postgrad school if you study hard in a less well known school, but this is still a factor I considered as I plan to do an MBA.

  4. Recruitment opportunities - great companies come to you! At NYU Stern, big names on Wall street hold recruiting events all the time. They literally knock on your school’s door and ask to meet you. This results in a huge amount of networking and career opportunity that you are constantly immersed in. In New Zealand universities, this still happens sometimes, but the amount of exposure isn’t really comparable.

With all this being said, I should also say that I have taken a couple of classes at Auckland University and I really enjoyed my time there. The people are lovely and the teaching quality is good. Whether you choose a local university or an international one, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy your time there.

Hope this helped!

If you do study in the US then be prepared for this question - you will be asked it a lot!

I wanted to study here for most of the rational reasons listed above - opportunities, academic rigor, networks, freedom.

There were also some simpler reason:

  • I thought it’d be fun (and it is). I spent a few weeks of Year 13 playing soccer with my school up the east coast of the US. I had a blast, and I thought “hell, why not just study here and do this for three years?” So I did.
  • The US college experience. I’d seen all the movies and heard the stories and it sounded like something I didn’t want to miss. There’s probably no better time to be in the states than being a college student. The set-up is unbelievable - not just with social life and events but the wealth of opportunities and diversity at many schools here is something not to be missed.
  • I love to travel. Being here has allowed me to take countless trips around the states and other continents in the past couple of years. I’d probably not have left NZ in the last two years had I studied in NZ.
  • It’ll set you apart in a meaningful and interesting way. We’re often looking for ways to be different and this is a prime chance to do that.

My main point is that being over here is an absolute blast, and that’s as good a reason as any.