According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, more than 8,000 Bangladeshi students studied in the US in the 2020-2021 academic year.
The US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education released the report while celebrating the International Education Week (IEW) from November 15 to November 19.
Bangladesh stands 14th in the list of top student-sender countries to the US. Previously, the position was 17th.
While the pandemic saw a global decrease in international students, Bangladesh did comparatively well as it witnessed only about a 2.7% decrease from 2020.
The Business Standard has gathered information about the 'should and should nots' for those wishing to study in the US.
Zarif Mubassir Rahman, a Bangladeshi student who is studying nuclear physics at Michigan State University (MSU), will guide you through the process through his story.
Zarif comes from a national curriculum background and sat for SSC in 2014 from Dhaka Residential Model College (DRMC).
Like most students studying under the national curriculum, his goal was to appear for admission tests at public universities in Bangladesh.
"Right before my SSC exam, one of my teachers at DRMC told me about the fully-funded Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme in the US. I applied for it, got accepted and was placed in Minnesota state where I studied in a high school," Zarif said.
He wanted to come back and pursue an undergraduate degree in Bangladesh as university fees in the US can be quite high.
But then he targeted universities with relatively lower fees so that he could afford them by working.
"I attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a major in physics in Fall 2016. My family helped me with plane fare and fees during the first semester, which I acknowledge was a privilege," Zarif said.
He started working and also applied for all the scholarships he could find that would enable him to continue his studies.
Since he knew his preparation for undergraduate admission was not the best, he decided to start planning early for his PhD.
He reached out to his professors to seek undergraduate research experience from the first year.
He completed his undergraduate degree within three and a half years, in December 2019.
"During this period, I had the privilege to work with five faculty members on their research projects, one of which was during the summer of my final year at Notre Dame University in Indiana State," he said.
All these experiences allowed Zarif to grow as a student and also connect with many people in the field who wrote good letters of recommendation for him.
Meanwhile, he also took the regular GRE and the physics GRE and applied for graduate programmes on nuclear physics.
"I got accepted in many programmes, but I finally decided to attend MSU since it is currently ranked the number one university for nuclear physics in the US," he informed us.
He started at MSU in Fall 2020, and is currently in the second year of his graduate studies.
Zarif's advice for interested students
"I think one of the common mistakes that many students make while applying to colleges in the US is that they do not start soon enough. This is something I too was guilty of doing during undergraduate admission," Zarif said.
The application process can be long and stressful and so it is crucial that you start planning as early as possible.
Students should also set achievable goals and work according to them.
"The quality of higher education in the US is good even in smaller colleges," he shared with us, adding, "My suggestion to prospective students is that even if your dream is to attend a top-ranked institution, please do not let that stop you from having some safety options," he said.
It is good to be open to smaller universities and liberal arts colleges.
Zarif said, "I went to a relatively smaller university and I have many peers who have attended liberal arts colleges and I strongly believe most of us are very pleased with our degrees."
He believes the EducationUSA Bangladesh can be a very good resource for prospective students.
"They can help you with your application no matter what stage of the process you are at. There are advisors at EducationUSA who can guide you through the process according to your background," he said.
Zarif also mentioned that EducationUSA regularly holds education fairs where students can directly speak to representatives from many universities.
He added that they also organise pre-departure orientation for students coming to the US.