Top 10 Tips for Studying in the United States Colleges
Before going to study in the US, you should check out our 10 practical tips that will help you prepare your application and get your ready for important issues and situations you may face during the process and your stay there.
1. Choosing a University
There are over 4,000 universities and colleges in the United States, yes 4,000! With so much choice choosing a place to study can be one of the hardest decisions you can make.
There is the prestigious Ivy League group, which includes Princeton and Yale, and also smaller lesser known private colleges and public universities throughout the country.
University rankings can be a good starting point for choosing an educational institution abroad. It is a good idea to pay attention to the position of US universities in the following world rankings: Quacquarelli Symonds (QS ranking), Times Higher Education (THE) and Shanghai ranking (Academic Ranking of World Universities).
In addition, you should pay attention to faculties’ rankings: the university may not be ranked particularly high but it might have a study program you’re interested in.
American universities are divided into private, state, and local (state-owned) ones. The cost of studying for US and foreign students depends primarily on this factor. Usually, it is cheaper at state universities, but private universities offer more generous scholarships. It is believed that studying in a private university in the US is more prestigious than in a state one, but it’s up to you (and your financial capacity) which of the two you’ll eventually pick.
Another organizational kind is universities and colleges of higher education. Regardless of the name, a university is generally understood to be an educational institution providing all levels of higher education and engaged in scientific activities. Colleges turn out only bachelors and often have a narrower set of disciplines. At the same time, colleges can be independent and included in the structure of large universities.
If you look forward to pursuing an academic career, choosing a university, and not a college, will provide you with more opportunities. In addition, university education is considered more prestigious.
The cost of studying at a US college or university depends on the following factors: world rankings, specialty, organizational form (studying at private universities usually costs more than at state universities and colleges), and location.
One way to reduce the cost of education is to study at a biennial community college. After graduating from this vocational school, you can enter the third year of an undergraduate program (subject to sufficient progress). Studying at community colleges is much cheaper than at universities, so with reasonable planning, you can complete the first two years of your study program at a reduced cost.
Statistically, only 8% of foreigners receive scholarships in the United States. But do not despair: in addition to universities, you can also seek funding from various government and private organizations, both in the US and in your home country.
If you are applying for a scholarship, your application for admission should be filled out very carefully, and that includes universities with a small number of applicants.
4. Entry Requirements
Admission requirements minimum points for standardized SAT and ACT exams and TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency exams.
The tougher the admission requirements are, the more difficult it will be for you to enroll at a US university. It also means that:
- you will have a harder time learning
- more ambitious and high-performing students (most often)
- higher salaries for graduates (most often)
You should, therefore, carefully study the admission requirements of US universities before sending clarifying questions.
5. Prepare Application Documents
There are several things to prepare when starting your application to study abroad in the USA including:
Here, the applicant should describe their career goals, as well as how the program they apply for will help them achieve them. This is arguably the most important document for being admitted to the majority of American universities.
A recommendation letter is provided by a student’s teacher or employer. It is an absolute must for enrollment in study programs of any level.
When applying for master’s and some undergraduate programs, you’re required to submit a resume or CV. This is your opportunity to inform the admission committee’s members about the merits and achievements not specified in other application documents. Your resume shouldn’t be more than an A4 page and mention not only the place and time of your work but also the results achieved.
Without a document confirming a previous education record, no enrollment is possible.
6. Take IELTS or TOEFL
If you are not a native English speaker, or have previously attended a university where classes weren’t taught in English, you’ll need to take a test confirming your level of English. If this applies to you then you should read more about IELTS, TOEFL and other tests well in-advance. You can get useful information about IELTS and TOEFL tests on the Internet.
If you are worried about your level of English, forget about any cheap fixes like Google and start searching for US education opportunities relevant to your area of study. Be sure to practice as much as possible before arriving so when you arrive the level of work required won’t be such a shock. You need to really prepare to give yourself the best chance possible of passing the assignments and exams.
7. Check Other Tests / Requirements
To be enrolled in a specific study program (e.g. design, architecture) you will need to prepare a portfolio or take some additional tests.
SAT and ACT are standardized tests that US high school graduates take to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program. Many colleges do not require foreign applicants to do these tests and are OK with the grades from their graduation certificate. The more prestigious a university is, the higher the likelihood is that you will have to take one of the said tests.
However, GRE or GMAT test results will almost certainly be required for admission to the Master’s degree program.
8. Application Forms
Each University in the United States has its own questionnaires containing numerous questions for applicants. Carefully read the questionnaire, as well as the instructions for filling it out.
Keep in mind that it is a good idea to prepare answers to the questions in printed form. When specifying your name and surname in the questionnaire, use the same spelling as in your travel passport.
9. Pay a University Fee
Some universities charge a fee of $20 to $50 for considering admission applications. Payment is made after the applicant has completed all the fields of the online application form.
If you have prepared the application yourself, you should postpone sending it for a couple of days (if the deadlines permits) to make sure it’s filled out properly.
Be patient. Terms of consideration of applications vary depending on the university and specialization. Perhaps, the university will ask you to provide some additional documents, such as proof of solvency. As soon as admission is confirmed, the college will notify you of enrollment, terms and payment procedure.
If you need to get an answer asap, you should send a request to representatives of different US universities. Be sure to include your application number as well.
Be ready to wait for one to two months. The college or university of your choice can inform you that you are on their waiting list, in which case it will notify you of the deadline for making a decision regarding your candidacy. After receiving a response from the college/university, you should confirm your intention to study there.
Prepare for Travel & Living in the USA
If you get your application sucessfully accepted then you can start getting exciting for a life changing experience. You will need to check flights, accommodation, check the area where you will be living and also read up on the local customs and activities. The internet, past students and YouTube can be great places to start when seeking informartion.
If you are an international student hoping to attend a university in the United States hopefully our guide has been useful. If you have ever been to study in the USA and would like to share any recommendations leave feedback in the comments section below.