The U.S. State Department has outlined five steps for preparing to study in the United States, each one with a handful of underlying requirements. While the process can be time and labour intensive, proper planning and organisation, with the help of EDUopinions, will ensure those dedicated to completing their degree in America manage the transition with relative ease.
EDUopinions is a worldwide online platform that collects opinions from students about the universities where they have studied or are studying now.
Steps to Studying in the U.S.
Research Higher Education Options
Wherever you choose to study, finding the right school is an important first step in starting your career as a college student. There are many online resources for finding data on U.S. institutions of higher education, some focused on basic statistics and others on school ranks. College Navigator is a great tool for an initial search of public or private universities and their respective programmes. Once you have chosen a few schools of interest, you can learn more through U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges list or Forbes List of Top Colleges, both of which rank U.S. universities. If you are hoping to compare schools, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard is helpful for reviewing graduation rates and financial aid information, while EDUopinions can provide student perspectives for each university. Beyond the internet, you may also visit educational advising centres in your home country, where you can find in-person assistance for your college search.
While a number of factors may drive your decision, cost, location, programme prestige, and post-graduate success are among the most important items to investigate. Additionally, any school in question must be certified to host international students, so searching the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) website is crucial in your quest for the right university.
Find a Way to Pay for Your Studies
The cost of attending any college or university is significant and finding a way to finance your education is paramount. The United States government does not offer funding for international students, but there are a number of scholarships and grants available through institutes of higher education, private businesses, organisations, and exchange programmes. A thorough search of programme websites and the U.S. government’s online scholarship search engine can help you identify funding sources that may provide significant financial assistance.
Complete All Required Applications
Applying to college has never been so easy, as many universities offer online application tools that can be completed from the comfort of your own home. That said, there are a number of supporting items that require a bit more effort. Many U.S. universities require students to complete standardised tests, namely the ACT and/or SAT, for admission. Additionally, most schools require international students to submit TOEFL scores, which measures English language proficiency. Beyond assessments, letters of recommendation and school transcripts are essential components of your U.S. college application. It is also a good idea to submit any professional licenses or certifications, as well as work experiences that have prepared you for higher education. Once you have submitted all required application documents, the difficult task of waiting for a response and subsequent action begins. In the U.S., most colleges and universities send acceptance or rejection letters sometime between February and April.
Apply for a Student Visa
Acceptance into an SEVP-certified institute of higher education is required before a student visa can be obtained. There are numerous checklist items to complete before being issued a U.S. student visa, and reading the instructions on this process is critical to completing all required steps. In general, you will apply (in person or online), schedule an interview, and gather the required documents (generally your passport, DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application, application fee payment receipt, photo, and Form I-20) before your appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers helpful tips for preparing for your interview on their website.
Prepare for Departure
Once you have been accepted into a university and obtain a student visa, you can begin planning for your journey. While flights, housing, roommates, and packing are of primary concern, there is much to research regarding the exciting transition into life in America. The U.S. government has provided a list of websites helpful to international students preparing to enter the country which you may find helpful. EDUopinions offers real-life student stories and experiences, which provides further insight into your upcoming study abroad experience. Wherever you search, enjoy the excitement of preparing for life in a new location.
Studying in the U.S. requires careful planning, but is worth the work for those interested in an international educational experience. If you are planning on applying to university in the U.S., the following steps will guide you in your preparations:
- Identify which American college or university is right for you
- Figure out how to finance your education
- Complete the applications for your chosen schools
- Once you have been accepted into your school of choice, apply for a student visa
- Plan for your journey to America and transition into a new culture
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