One of the best aspects of the American higher education system is the numerous excellent school options, ranging from community colleges to career schools to private liberal arts colleges to large public universities. Other factors include a school’s geographic location, size, and degree programs.
Because the United States provides many options and some of the best facilities in the world, it has attracted millions of international students to its universities and colleges. The possibilities are almost endless, with over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States. However, deciding which program to attend is difficult because there are many options.
American colleges and universities are as diverse as the world’s many countries. As a result, you must establish your priorities. So how can you be sure you’ll feel at ease at a school halfway around the world?
Following these steps is an excellent place to start! You are the only person who can decide what your “right fit” college or university will feel like. However, if you follow the steps outlined below, you will be well to select the best U.S. college or university for your needs.
Steps to Finding the Perfect U.S. University
We have compiled a list of criteria to assist you in your search. All these factors are essential, but some may be more important than others, depending on your preferences. Consider these points as you refine your priorities.
You can fast-track your research with the InternationalStudent.com School Search.
Do not dismiss your intuition! Even if you’ve always been told that such decisions should be based on logic, you’ll spend the next three to six years studying your subject, so make sure your heart is in the right place.
The most crucial step in determining the best college or university for you is identifying the situations in which you excel. If you’re unsure of those circumstances, you can evaluate them by asking yourself a few key questions.
Are you someone who thrives on complex tasks? If so, you may be ready to transfer to a highly competitive academic institution. Do you enjoy being in large crowds? It might be worthwhile to include a large research university on your list. Or are you someone who struggles with change?
Then it might make more sense to look for a university or college comparable in size to the one you are currently attending. Consider the pillars of your values and look for opportunities to grow personally and intellectually.
Maintain an open mind
It is easy to become attached to one or two dream schools when first learning about American universities. Many students begin their college search by compiling a list of schools they believe are perfect.
However, after visiting campus, taking a virtual tour, or speaking with an admission representative, the reality of the school’s culture and programs may differ from your expectations. Many students discover their ideal school is not what they expected after broadening their search. All students must keep an open mind, take a risk, and research or visit schools that were not initially on their wish list.
Make a list of Top Universities
Make a list of institutions that interest you and thoroughly research each one. For more ‘insider’ tips, visit university websites for official information, course prospectuses, and even student forums. If possible, make contact with alums. Their stories are significant because they can provide insight into how your future may unfold.
Once you’ve decided on the subject you want to study in the United States, you should begin your search. University rankings and subject-specific rankings can be beneficial in locating U.S. universities that are a good fit for your interests. Make a list of institutions that interest you and thoroughly research each one.
Use Your Network for Research
Current students and alums are excellent resources for learning more about a university because they can provide perspectives and experiences that a printed brochure or website cannot. You don’t even have to travel thousands of miles to meet them. Contact your school’s counselor and ask them to assist you in contacting current students at the universities you are interested in.
The sense of pride and enthusiasm people develop for their university is one of the most impressive aspects of the U.S. university system. It’s not uncommon. This pride is often manifested in competitive sports programs but can also be found in many other areas. Don’t be afraid to contact someone you don’t know; alums have been where you are and know how to make the process easier.
An alum network accompanies this university pride. These networks help people stay connected to their university while providing professional development and advancement opportunities. It’s not uncommon for graduates in the United States to land their first job through connections or information provided by a university’s alum network.
When deciding on the best school for you, think about the network that will support your degree and help you get where you want to go.
Location of University in the U.S.
The location is also an important consideration when selecting a U.S. university. Yes, you want to study in the United States, but each state and city has its personality, culture, climate, economy, history, etc. Some states have a higher proportion of international students than others.
The university’s location is critical, the campus presence, accessibility, climate, and proximity to large cities or natural sites. Look through guides to help you gather more pieces of information and make your decision.
Course specialization in the U.S.
Large research universities typically provide a diverse range of disciplines at a high level. However, even the most prestigious universities are leaders in their respective fields; for example, Harvard is well-known for its law school, while Berkeley is well-known for its medical school. Of course, this does not imply that other faculties at these universities are weak, but you should focus on solid universities in your area of interest.
If you know what you want to study, make sure that each university you apply to has an accredited program in that field. Popular majors, such as business and information technology, are available at almost all colleges and universities. However, you should plan if you are interested in a more specialized field, such as marine biology or archaeology.
Even if you enjoy the university as a whole, you may be interested in a particular aspect of your subject. You should check to see if it is covered in the curriculum on offer.
Total Cost of Study
Calculate the TOTAL cost of your education, including living expenses. This information is frequently available on the websites of colleges. Tuition at elite, private colleges and universities is typically higher than at public universities.
A few private institutions have very competitive costs compared to public universities. You must research to determine the cost of your studies at a U.S. university and your ability to pay.
Majors, Minors, and Credits in Liberal Arts Education
Liberal Arts colleges and universities offer specialized humanities and social and behavioral sciences education. They provide a wide variety of potentially significant subjects, such as Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. If you want to study a minor subject, you can do so at any university. Some Majors even permit a Minor to replace supporting coursework. Each Major and Minor has a set number of credits that must be completed to graduate. The definition of credit can be complex for someone not born in the United States to grasp. Credit is given for the time spent studying or in class.
When selecting a university, the rankings produced by several independent institutions are an excellent place to start, but they should be viewed with caution.
These rankings can provide information about certain aspects of schools, but they may leave out important information such as student satisfaction, engagement, and alums performance.
They may also be biased toward smaller universities that specialize in a few key areas. Many students believe that ‘Ivy League schools are the only ones worth considering when many non-Ivy schools are more well-regarded collectively and in many individual programs. All U.S. universities are known for something, so make sure to cast a wide net.
The American Student Experience,
The primary distinction between the U.S. and a UK student is that, whereas the UK student is encouraged to be an expert in a single field, a U.S. student is more likely to succeed if they can demonstrate a breadth of knowledge.
On the social front, students in the United States are much more likely to spend time together, particularly on campus. Eating and playing sports together and belonging to sororities and fraternities are essential to university education. Many students will live on campus for their entire four-year degree.
Cultural Capital and Global Awareness
Universities in the United States make every effort not to promote cultural capital and to treat all students equally, regardless of social status. Outside of the lecture halls and classrooms, however, students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may find themselves at a disadvantage and be looked down upon by those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
Graduate Schools and Degrees
Ensure you seek information and apply for the correct degree program during your research and application process. You are applying for undergraduate studies if you have completed secondary school (high school) or some university studies without earning a degree for either a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. Most of these programs do not require you to apply for a specific degree, only for admission to the college or university.
Learn about the student housing available at U.S. universities.
Moving to a different country to further their education is exciting and terrifying for most international students. It is critical to begin your research early and gather all the information you require to live comfortably during your studies.
Most universities in the United States provide on-campus housing. That will be fantastic for you because you will most likely share a kitchen with other students and have plenty of opportunities to interact and get to know them. You must double-check all of these details for each university to which you intend to apply.
Scholarship and Funding
If you are applying for a scholarship, your application for admission must be cautious, even if you are applying to a University where there is little competition for a place.
You should consider scholarships and funding when considering how to pay for a U.S. education. Not all U.S. universities provide scholarships to international students, and government loans are not always available to cover tuition and fees. Despite this, rising university fees worldwide have made the U.S. university system quite competitive compared to other European countries.
Students’ ethnic composition
American universities are home to an array of students, coming from all corners of the world. International students bring a unique set of experiences and diversity of thoughts that serve to shape the learning environment. It’s inspiring to see how cultures intertwine on campus through collaborations and friendships – this is what higher education should look like!
Receiving an education here in the United States not only provides students with academic growth opportunities, but also teaches them how to empathize with those different than themselves; a powerful tool needed in a globally connected world. By helping foster an educational setting where people put their differences aside and learn from one another, American universities are paving the way for future generations to come together peacefully.
The TOEFL exam is a source of anxiety for most international students. However, it is nearly impossible to avoid unless you have been educated in English. Each program has its own requirements, and the higher the TOEFL score requirement, the more prestigious the university. Before applying, always research the requirements of each school.
Some universities offer a TOEFL waiver option, which appeals to many international students. It usually entails studying at the university’s intensive English program (or another affiliated English program) until the final level is completed. Many universities have agreements with some private language schools, such as ELS Language Centers, that allow students to enter without a TOEFL score.
Visit Campuses If Possible
You may be fortunate enough to be able to visit the U.S. and visit the universities you are interested in person to learn more about them. Alternatively, you could meet university representatives at university fairs in a nearby city.
As an international student, online communication methods can be especially beneficial. We recommend that you attend virtual university fairs or online information sessions, where you can speak with university representatives and students from the comfort of your home.
It is critical to understand whether a college or university is accredited. Accreditation certifies that a school or program meets a set academic standard. If you attend an unaccredited college or university, you will be unable to transfer your credits to an accredited college or university. Your degrees may not be recognized in your home country, and you may be unable to obtain the job you seek.
Accrediting bodies are classified into two types: institutional and professional. Your government may require you to get a degree from a school that is accredited in both types of ways.
The entire school is considered for accreditation. Professional accreditation is determined by judges within those professions and is based on the standards maintained by a specific school, such as law, medicine, engineering, or business.
Trust your instinct
It is frequently stated that “college fit” is difficult to define because it is unique to each individual. Only you can honestly know if a university is a right fit for you after going through all the steps and asking the above questions.
They say, “You know when you know.” Trust your instincts if you have conducted an open-minded, thorough search and believe a particular university is right for you. The university application process is just that: a process. Trust each step, and you will find yourself on a path leading to a U.S. college or university where you can call yourself a student.
As you can see, making your dream a reality isn’t so complicated once you create a solid plan and focus on researching your best options. When you’ve compiled a list of colleges and universities that interest you, narrow it down to six to eight schools—best wishes for your research.
You can find contact information for the school and reach out to them for more research about their programs.