More international students choose to study in the United States of America than any other country in the world. According to Project Atlas, a partner of the Institute of International Education in the United States, this figure reached almost one million students in 2014-15.

Canada on the other hand, ranked eighth, is another attractive destination for international students. But what motivates students to make the long journey to North America, and choose Canada over the United States... we delve into the reasons for this below.

Canada has a very diverse population. This is facilitated by the fact that it is relatively easier to gain citizenship in Canada as compared to the US, and hence is one of the reasons why many international students choose to study here. In 2011, the foreign-born population of Canada reached over six million people, equivalent to 20.6% of the total population, which is higher than any other G8 country.

Canadian cities are also much safer than some American cities. Hence a lot of parents feel more at ease at sending their children here. When it comes to weather while some states in the US have extreme cold weather, others have temperate and warm climate, which means you can choose what suits you best. Canada on the other hand, is one of the coldest regions. Because of its geographic location, situated in the north of US, winters can get quite cold. The eastern and northern regions of Canada experience winters lasting up to five months with a temperature as low as -40 degrees.

It is also interesting to note that over 8,000 US students opt to study in Canada instead of the US; hence the US ranks fourth when it comes to having the most number of international students in Canada.

The reasons that US students choose to study in Canada is the same as any other international students, the cost of an education in Canada is cheaper than in the US, and interestingly, another reason is because they want to experience a different culture. That may sound strange since one would assume that the neighbouring countries are quite similar. But if you look at the top choice for US students which is McGill University, which has over 2000 US students there, you might understand what they mean by saying different culture. McGill is located in Montreal Quebec, a place where French is the first language, and natives of Quebec (Quebecois) consider themselves as a separate nation within Canada. So for American students, Quebec is the closest location to home, where they can get a good education as well as experience a somewhat different community. And for international students who come from a country that also has French as a national language, this fact would be appealing to them.

In Canada, the cost of tuition is much lower than the US. According to a 2014 report by HSBC, the United States ranked as the third most expensive place for international students, with the annual cost of tuition and living expenses reaching over USD 36,000. In that same report, Canada ranked sixth, with the total cost being almost CAD 30,000. Canada also has a high number of students that leave college with a lower amount of debt compared with students in America.

One area that might draw students to Canada over the United States is that there are some universities in Canada that offer three-year bachelor's degree programs. The benefits of completing a bachelor's degree in three years include one year less tuition payments, and of course, one year less of studies. Canada also has three very prestigious universities that feature among the top 50 universities in the QS World University Rankings: McGill University, University of Toronto, and the University of British Columbia. Other great universities in Canada include: Carleton University, Centennial College, and Nipissing University.

In Canada, you are also able to get a job both on-campus as well as off-campus with your student visa. This, of course will massively help your financial situation. In America however, international students are restricted to only working for a limited number hours on the university campus. Another benefit of studying in Canada is that you could be eligible for a post-graduate work visa (PGWPP), meaning that after you graduate from university, you could stay and work in Canada.

These are just  a few reasons why some people perfer to study in Canada over the US. However, don't stop just here, dig deeper, speak to people you know who have studied in Canada, or who are planning to study there. I have a friend who was initially not sure if he wanted to study in Canada or the US, but eventually opted to study in Canada. He went there in 2003, as a student and then took up a job there. He ended up living in Canada for ten years, and eventually gained a Canadian citizenship during that time. When I asked him if he could go back in time and choose between America and Canada, would he still pick Canada. He just looked at me, while wearing his maple leaf shirt and said “in a heartbeat”.

For more information regarding studying in Canada, you can visit our older blogs: Applying for a Canadian student visa, Study abroad application requirements Canada