Applying for a college or a university in the US from abroad is a backbreaking task. Apart from your qualifications, there are many other things to think about: living costs, education prices, career opportunities each of the universities offer, perhaps, some additional facilities of importance, such as sports teams, science laboratories, etc. You should determine your preferences and compare them to your capabilities, so you can come to one or a couple of universities as your goals before making a formal application.
Determining the perfect university and applying may take up to two years. So start early. There are a lot of things to consider, and here is a list of the critical points.
Your education is a project. Any project needs funding, and it is essential to be sure you won’t run out of money during the last year of your studies. It would be horrible to understand that all your time has been spent for naught due to some financial problems at the final stretch. Studying in America is quite expensive. The yearly fee can vary from 4,000$ up to 40,000$, and living, daily expenses, and other costs are not included in this price.
Don’t worry; you won’t have to shoulder the whole extent of the tuition costs yourself. There are several ways to get help. First, go to your family members and ask for help. Many parents want the best for their children, so they either save up or take a loan to get a Higher education; by the way, you can try to get a loan yourself. If your family has financial problems, you’ll have to move up the social ladder with your own skills. There are many international student grants, US government grants, Home country funds, work and study programs. Sometimes, even the facility you want to enter offers some financial help for the best applicants. You have to apply everywhere you can and prove to those people that money invested into you is money well spent.
Despite having nothing to do with education, funding is actually the most widespread reason people don’t get into the universities they want. So, be sure to carefully judge whether you can provide money for the full program of the university you dream of. Be sure to remember that you will need a considerable sum of money to get to the place and exist there. Do not forget tickets, rent costs, living expenses, clothes, transport and so on.
Choose Your Specialty Well
Since US education is so expensive and hard to get, you’d better be sure it isn’t wasted. Be sure that you are learning useful things that you will not hate doing as a future professional. If you have the opportunity, go and ask some specialists that are working in the same profession. Look at some vacancies to estimate how needed your profession will be in your country or the US and how much money it will bring. Having chosen your specialty, you will narrow down the number of universities considerably.
Now, you should think about what degree you want. Some people are okay with getting a Bachelor’s degree and going out into the field. However, science and research are of interest to others, so Master’s programs and Postgraduate works are optional. Every university boasts different scientific achievements. If you strive to be a scientist or a specialist with a great fundamental knowledge base, you should look for places with the corresponding facilities, research clubs, and laboratories.
The US is a vast country with an area larger than China, even if we include the rocky regions. Each state is quite different from the other, and they are very diverse even within their own borders. You can attend a university in the heart of a large metropolis or enter a college in a small rural town, and the quality of education may be the same. So, you have a degree of freedom here. You can take your own preferences into account. Do you want to live in a bustling city or do your home assignments in the middle of large fields and forests? However, please take into account that it is often easier to find part-time jobs in larger cities. Some US areas are hard to travel to or require warm clothes for most of the year (such as Alaska). That will add to your expenses.
You will live in a foreign country far away from home for a long time, so it’s only natural to think about living conditions. Sure, nostalgia may strike anytime, anywhere, but having a roommate share, it may make it smoother. That or staying for a day or two in a cozy, well-furnished flat to get your thoughts sorted out. That depends on each person, but there are basically just a few housing options for exchange students in the US. You can stay in a campus dormitory with a neighbor in the room; you can rent your own flat or find a friend and rent a flat with them. Of course, the last option is to stay with a hospitable American family for the duration of your studies. That way, you’ll get to understand Americans better and taste their life. The cheapest way is to stay on campus, of course, and the most expensive is to have a flat of your own. Living prices differ greatly depending on the town you are going to live in. If you stay in large places like New York or Los Angeles, be ready to pay a lot for a faraway tiny space, but a flat won’t cost you as much if you are in a small town.
Leafing Through All the Options
Last but not least is the most monotone part. You’ve chosen what you want to be; you’ve estimated how much money you have and where you want to live. What you want to do there and how proficient you want to be on your studies’ subject. However, that still leaves you with a lot of options. There are almost 30,000 colleges and over 7,000 universities in America. And if you want to find the perfect place, you’ll have to leaf through a lot of them. If you don’t organize your research, you’ll get lost, so make a list, make a table. You can even make a graph or a diagram. And still, it will be hard, so using help is a good idea. The worldwide web offers lots of proficient resources in helping international students find their dream universities. Forward Pathway is such an example among the Chinese. Each facility will offer you a unique learning program; it will have different financial aid systems and, most importantly, different acceptance requirements. Apart from that, some of the places will fit you better in terms of living and working. That is why, note a number of the most important factors, list the universities, and narrow them down based on your criteria. Do not stop until you have at least a single digit of preferable places. Ideally, not more than 3. After that, it’s the time actually to apply.