Many international students consider Harvard University to be among the most prestigious colleges in the United States. Did you know that it is also the oldest? Harvard’s first class — only nine students — graduated on this date in 1642, becoming the first graduates of an American college.

Harvard was founded in 1636. Since then, the university has grown to more than 20,000 students and boasts a long list of notable alumni that includes eight U.S. presidents, 48 Nobel laureates and a host of Fortune 500 CEOs such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Harvard Hall at Harvard University
Harvard Hall, one of the oldest standing buildings at Harvard University (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz via Wikimedia Commons)

While Harvard is among the most popular U.S. universities for international students, it isn’t the only place in America where international students can receive a top-notch education that prepares them for a successful career back home. Every year, U.S. colleges and universities welcome over 800,000 students from abroad who bring diversity and vital global perspectives to their campuses.

With more than 4,500 accredited colleges and universities, the American education system offers unrivalled choice, flexibility and quality. Students can pursue a number of study options in dozens of academic fields, from astronomy to zoology, in a variety of academic settings — public or private, small or large, urban or rural.

Every year, U.S. colleges and universities welcome over 800,000 students from abroad

But the long-term value of an American college degree goes beyond the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. It provides the chance to meet Americans from all over the country as well as other students from around the world. And by earning a degree at an American college or university, international students not only make lifelong friends here, but become part of the elite network of people at home and in their region who have studied in the United States.

Learn more about the steps you need to take to study in the U.S. at EducationUSA.