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Why study in the USA

The world’s most popular international student destination

More international students study in the USA than in any other country in the world – at the moment, there are more than 750,000. Let’s look at some of the reasons why…

Highest-ranked universities in the world

The USA has an established, high-quality tertiary education system. The USA boasts an impressive seven out of the world’s top 10 universities according to the 2013/2014 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In fact, 76 of the top 200 universities are based in the USA.

Diversity of geography, culture and institutions

Thanks to the sheer size of the USA and the large number of institutions, there is a perfect fit for each type of student. Huge, sprawling campuses that feel like cities and small, intimate campuses that feel like a collection of close friends. Tropical islands, dry deserts, snowy plains, the Grand Canyon, California, and New York City. In the USA, there is truly something for every type of learner.

Campus life

Living on campus in the USA can offer you the opportunity to enrich your educational experience and meet new friends. Or you may choose to live off campus. USA universities offer a wide choice of academic, cultural and athletic activities. Your university may also have a variety of sporting teams in addition to fraternities and regional or ethnic clubs.

 

Education system in the USA

Tertiary education is typically divided into:

• Associate degrees
• Undergraduate (bachelor) degrees
• Graduate education (master’s and PhDs/doctorates)

USA universities place great significance on diversity, meaning classes will consist of students of different ages, religions and countries of origin. This provides a stimulating and rich learning environment that encourages cross-cultural understanding and networking. Most classes will contain no more than 20 students and the professors will take the time to get to know students and their strengths and will usually be willing to spend time outside of class to offer further support.

There is also a very active social life on USA campuses, with many clubs and organisations students can join to meet other students with similar interests and to help further career opportunities.

 

Cost of studying in the USA

In the USA, university or college costs vary between different institutions. Accommodation and living costs depend on your personal lifestyle. Tuition will be the most expensive component of your educational costs. The price of tuition can range from $10,000 to $55,000 (USD) per year.

Accommodation costs will depend on personal preferences and the city you reside in. For example, staying on campus will usually cost you more than staying off campus. Undergraduate (bachelor degree) students in some universities may be required to stay on campus for the first year which may considerably increase the cost of living. Whether you decide to stay alone or live with friends will also affect your costs.

Accommodation will typically range from $3,000 to $8,000 per year. If you decide to rent an apartment, remember that extra costs such as electricity, phone line, furniture, and travel costs to and from the university are your responsibility.

Most campuses offer a meal plan for students to allow dining in the on-campus facilities. These plans are offered at many different levels to accommodate individual budgets. Most campuses also require students to pay for medical insurance to allow them to utilize on-campus medical facilities for check-ups, basic testing and prescriptions for common illnesses (for example, head cold, fever, etc). This insurance typically runs under $1,000 per year.

Other costs to budget for are fees for student activities, which amount to a few hundred dollars per year and reference books, which can cost between $500 and $1,500 per year.

 

Visa requirements for the USA

Applying for visas is often seen as complicated, but IDP Education’s trained counsellors are experts in guiding students through the application process.

Here is some information on applying for student visas in the USA.

F-1 visa (USA student visa)

The F-1 visa (Academic Student) allows an individual to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university or other academic institution. A student must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma or certificate and the school must be authorised by the US government to accept international students.

Steps for applying for a USA student visa

The visa application process starts with the receipt of an I-20. The I-20 confirms a student’s acceptance and enrolment at a university or other educational institution.

• Pay the SEVIS fee (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
• Pay the visa fee at the nominated bank
• Complete the visa application form
• Book a visa interview appointment
• Attend your visa interview
• Your passport is returned to you by courier

Remember, your counsellor will help you from start to finish, providing assistance in organising documents, completing the forms, and preparing you for the interview with the visa officer at the USA Embassy.

 

Employment prospects in the USA

In the USA there are options to work part-time on campus during your first year of study. You can also explore opportunities for sponsorship following your studies.

International students in the USA can work in a job on campus up to 20 hours a week. Many students find that their time is better spent taking internships or practical training, which allows them to work for university credit in a job in a related field. Nearly every university, even those not located in big cities, has employees dedicated to helping students secure internships. All USA universities also offer extra-curricular activities that provide real-world job experience.

Another option that appeals to many students is to broaden their study experience through semester or summer-long study abroad and exchange programs, offered by most universities as well as outside study abroad providers. Following graduation, students on an F-1 visa can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows them to work in their chosen field for 12-24 months after completing their studies.

Some companies may even sponsor students for a H1-B Temporary Worker Visa, allowing them to continue living in the USA as long as they work for that company. Most USA institutions have a career services department staffed with professionals focused on helping students with their résumé, teaching job interview skills, and helping them find job opportunities.

 

Safety

Most people you meet in the USA are friendly and helpful. College campuses tend to be very safe, even when located in urban areas.

USA universities place a great deal of emphasis on the safety of their students. Small universities have campus security guards on staff and larger institutions often have their own police force. As in any country, a few simple precautions will help safeguard you and your property.