Choosing to study abroad is a great opportunity, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Applying to study in the United States may seem intimidating, considering all the factors.
To help make the process easier, here are 10 practical suggestions for preparing your application and handling any challenges that may arise during the application process and during your time in the US. These tips are helpful for international students who are considering studying in the US or who have already applied.
Why do students choose the US for higher education?
There are many reasons why students study in the United States for higher education. Some of these reasons include the following:
- Quality of education: The United States is home to some of the world's top universities offering high-quality teaching and cutting-edge research opportunities.
- A diverse range of institutions: The United States has a wide range of institutions that cater to different needs, such as public universities, private universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges.
- Opportunity to experience a new culture: Studying in the United States allows students to experience a new culture and connect with people worldwide.
- Professional development: Studying in the United States can also provide students valuable professional development opportunities, such as internships and networking events.
- Language immersion: The United States is predominantly English-speaking, making it an attractive destination for students who want to improve their English skills.
- Financial aid: Many universities in the United States offer financial assistance to international students, which can make studying in the United States more affordable.
Here are the 10 Tips to Prepare for Higher Studies in the USA:
1. Choose a University
When considering where to study in the United States, it is essential to consider many options available, including the prestigious Ivy League schools and various private and public universities. It can be helpful to refer to university rankings to narrow down your choices, such as those provided by QS, THE, and the Shanghai ranking.
It is also worth considering faculty rankings and whether a university or college best fits your academic and career goals. University education is generally considered more prestigious and may offer more opportunities for those interested in academia.
Several factors can affect the cost of attending a college or university in the United States, including the school's ranking, its speciality programs, whether it is a private or public institution, and its location.
One way to reduce the cost of education is to attend a community college for the first two years of a degree program and then transfer to a four-year university. Community colleges are generally less expensive than universities and can offer vocational training and academic courses.
Completing the first two years of a degree program at a community college makes it possible to save money while progressing towards a full bachelor's degree. However, it is essential to note that not all colleges and universities accept transfer credits from community colleges, so it is critical to carefully plan your academic path to ensure that your credits will be accepted towards your degree.
While statistics show that only a small percentage of international students receive scholarships to study in the United States, it is still worth applying for funding from educational institutions and external organisations in the US and your home country.
To increase your chances of receiving a scholarship, paying close attention to your application details is essential, even if the school you are applying to has a low number of applicants. Do not be discouraged by the low overall percentage of international students who receive scholarships; instead, focus on putting together a robust application and seeking out all potential funding sources.
4. Entry Requirements
To be admitted to a university in the United States, you must meet certain minimum scores on standardised tests such as the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or IELTS. These tests assess your academic skills and English proficiency, respectively. If a university has stricter entrance standards, it may be more challenging for you to get accepted and succeed academically once enrolled.
However, it is essential to note that students who are admitted to and graduate from universities with more stringent entrance standards may have better job prospects and earn more money after graduation.
Before applying to a specific university, it is a good idea to review their admission standards carefully and consider whether you meet the requirements. Please contact the university directly for clarification if you have any questions about the admission process.
5. Prepare Application Documents
You may need to submit several documents as part of your application to study abroad in the United States, including a letter of motivation, a letter of recommendation, a resume or CV, and education documents.
A letter of motivation, also known as a personal statement, is a document in which you explain your career goals and how the program you are applying for will help you achieve them. This is an essential document for admission to most colleges and universities in the US.
A letter of recommendation is a document written by a teacher or employer on your behalf, recommending you for the program you are applying to. This is often required as part of the application process.
A resume or CV is a document that outlines your work experience and qualifications. You may need to submit a resume or CV when applying for a master's degree or some undergraduate programs in the US. Your resume should be no more than one page long and include details about the location and time of your job and the outcomes or accomplishments you achieved.
Education documents are official records of your previous educational experience, such as transcripts or diplomas. These documents are usually required for admission to any US study level.
In summary, these documents are all essential to consider when applying to study in the United States. They help the admission committee understand your qualifications and goals, and they are often required as part of the application process.
6. Take IELTS or TOEFL
If you are not a native English speaker or have not previously studied at a university where classes were taught in English, you may be required to take an English proficiency test as part of your application to study in the United States. The most commonly accepted tests are the IELTS and TOEFL. Researching these tests and preparing well in advance is vital, as they can be challenging and require a lot of practice. There are many resources available online to help you prepare for these tests.
If you are concerned about your English skills, start looking for study programs in the US that are in your field of study and focus on improving your English as much as possible before arriving. This will help you succeed more in your studies once enrolled. It is vital to put in the necessary effort and preparation to give yourself the best chance of passing assignments and tests.
7. Check Other Tests/Requirements
In addition to the standard application materials, you may also need to submit a portfolio or take additional exams to be accepted into specific academic programs, such as design or architecture. The SAT and ACT are standardised tests commonly required for admission to a bachelor's degree program in the United States.
However, not all institutions require international applicants to take these tests, and some may be satisfied with your high school diploma grades instead. Generally, the more prestigious a university is, the more likely it is to require one of these tests.
It is a good idea to research the specific admission requirements for the programs you are interested in to ensure that you have all the necessary materials and qualifications.
8. Application Forms
When applying to a university in the United States, you will typically be required to complete an application questionnaire that asks various questions about your academic and personal background. It is essential to read the questionnaire carefully and follow the instructions for completing it.
Consider writing down your responses to the questions before transferring them to the online or paper application form to ensure that you have answered everything wholly and accurately. Be sure to use the exact spelling for your name and surname as they appear on your passport, as this will make it easier to verify your identity and process your application.
9. Pay the University Fee
Some colleges and universities in the United States charge an application fee to consider your application for admission. This fee is usually between $20 to $50 and is typically paid online after completing the application form. Remember that this fee is separate from any tuition or other expenses you may be required to pay if you are accepted and enrolled in the program.
It is essential to research the specific application requirements and prices for the institutions you are interested in to ensure that you have all the necessary information and funds to complete the application process.
10. Submit Your Application
If you are preparing an application to study in the United States, it is crucial to take your time and ensure that all the required information is completed accurately. It can be helpful to wait a few days before applying to allow yourself time to review it and make sure everything is correct.
The time it takes for your application to be considered will vary depending on the university and program you are applying to. You may be asked to provide additional documentation, such as proof of financial stability, as part of the process.
Once your application has been reviewed, the university will let you know if you have been accepted and will provide details about enrollment, terms, and payment procedures.
If you need a decision more quickly, you can contact the university and request an update on the status of your application. Be sure to provide your application number when making this request.
If your application is accepted, it is time to start getting excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You will need to start making arrangements for travel, housing, and living in the United States and learn about local customs and activities.
Many resources are available online and through previous students to help you plan your stay in the US. This information will be helpful if you are an international student interested in attending a US university.