Study Abroad

Your Guide to Study in the U.S.

query_builder January 18, 2018, 10:07 AM |  Overseas Education

Educational ties between India and the U.S. has been on a steady increase. The number of Indian students studying in the U.S. in 2016-17 is more than 186,000 – this is a 12% increase over the previous year. Indian and other International students from around the world choose to study in the U.S. to benefit from a range of interdisciplinary programs, world class faculty, cutting-edge technology and a wide variety of research opportunities. The American higher education system introduces international students to professional networks that provide benefits and advantages over a lifetime.

The flexibility in U.S. education allows you to gain different perspectives and broaden your knowledge in specialized fields through double major or dual degree programs. For instance, if you are studying to be a lawyer, you might want to cover courses for public speaking, reasoning and argumentation, literature, environment, gender studies, public relations etc. instead of only covering courses that are directly connected to your subject.

You should begin your research at least 12 to 18 months prior to the academic year in which you hope to attend a U.S. college or university. EducationUSA recommends the following five steps to studying in the U.S.

Step 1: Research your options

The first step is researching your options to find a college or university that best fits your needs. You shouldn't try to match yourself to the institution, but rather find universities that match your academic interests. Remember that no official ranking system exists for colleges and universities in the United States. The best college or university for you is the one that meets your requirements—academic and financial.

One of the most attractive features of the U.S. higher education system is the diversity of institution types it encompasses. More than 4,500 accredited institutions make up higher education in the United States and offer a wide range of programs. Start by answering these basic questions

• What do you want to study in the United States?

• Which colleges or universities will meet your academic needs?

• What are the standardized tests required to be eligible for admission?

• How much does it cost to study in the U.S. and would you require financial assistance?

• Do you have any climatic or regional preferences to study in the United States?

Keep in mind that the universities you apply to must be listed on - the Student Exchange Visitor Program. You can find a searchable list of accredited higher education institutions on the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the State's website and Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.

Step 2: Finance your studies

Invest in yourself! The cost of living and studying varies across the United States. With the right amount of planning, research and hard work, pursuing a U.S. higher education could be within your reach.

You need to evaluate what's best for your educational and career goals and what you are willing to spend. Each year, many international students receive financial assistance/scholarships, but it is highly competitive. Some universities require a separate application for financial assistance/scholarship, and in some others all applications are automatically considered for financial aid. You should check the websites of your chosen universities carefully.

Visit EducationUSA’s financial aid page for information on scholarships/financial assistance available across various U.S. universities.

Step 3: Complete your application

Start early, plan ahead, and know the application requirements. Application packages require a great deal of preparation and planning. Make a calendar of deadlines to track what you need to do and when it needs to be completed and follow this zealously.

In the U.S., application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. Check the specific requirements on the website of each institution’s international admissions office.

It is typical for undergraduate applications to be due between November and January for the academic year starting the following August/September. Below are some general application requirements:

• Educational credentials: This is typically your secondary/high school certificate and transcripts, as well as any final national exams required in your country. Transcripts are certified copies of your marksheet, courses, and grades. Marksheet are generally attested by your high school principal, registrar or controller of examinations depending upon the nature of it. Alternatively, marksheet can also be attested by an Adviser at your nearest EducationUSA center. An original transcript or certified copy in a sealed envelope is required for each institution that you apply.

• Standardized test scores: Scores may be required to assess your academic ability and English proficiency level.

• Recommendation letters: The head or principal of your school, your school counselor, your personal tutor, teachers, coaches, or supervisors from professional experiences may write recommendation letters. Your recommenders must be able to write about your work and be able to assess your potential to pursue a higher education degree. Be sure to choose someone who knows you well.

• Essay/personal statement: This is your chance to write about your interests, long-term goals, and strengths – one of the most important aspects of your application. The university may also suggest a topic.

For graduate study, you are likely to have institutional and departmental application requirements. Below are general application requirements for graduate study:

• Personal data form: Be sure to keep your personal information consistent and always spell your name the same way on all documents.

• The personal statement gives you the opportunity to show the admissions committee your individuality. Your statement should be clear, concise, and persuasive. Highlight your unique strengths, skills, or teaching experiences to show the institution that you are a good match with their program and department.

• Your transcript (marksheet) should list the /subjects you completed in your undergraduate and graduate studies and the grades you received in each class.

• Ask past professors, administrators, or employers to write your letters of recommendation. Your recommenders should write in depth about your work and assess your potential to do well as a graduate student.

Step 4: Apply for your student visa

Because visa interviews are short, do your best to explain why you want to study in the U.S., how you plan to fund your education and stay while studying, and your plans after course completion.

Information pertaining to visas and travel can be found on the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States.

Step 5: Prepare for your departure

EducationUSA advising centers organize pre-departure orientations for students getting ready to depart for the United States. EducationUSA advisers and U.S. alumni provide information and resources that will help you prepare for new experiences and develop skills to adjust to new challenges. Topics discussed include cultural differences, motivation, changes from your home environment, academic systems and expectations, housing, and coping in a new cultural setting.

In addition, you should check your university’s website for additional pre-departure information that will be more specialized and have information about health insurance, average local temperatures throughout the year, local transportation options, housing, and more.

Connect with EducationUSA:

Here are the many ways in which students can connect with EducationUSA

About EducationUSA:

EducationUSA is a global network of advising centers in 170 countries that is supported by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In India, EducationUSA centers at the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) actively promote U.S. higher education by providing information about educational institutions in the U.S. and guidance to qualified individuals on how best to access the opportunities.

About United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF):

USIEF was established in 1950 under a bilateral agreement on educational exchange between India and the United States. In addition to hosting the EducationUSA program, USIEF promotes mutual understanding between Indians and Americans through the educational exchange of outstanding scholars, professionals, and students under the umbrella of Fulbright, Fulbright-Nehru and other prestigious grants & scholarships.


This article was written by: 

Krishna Prasanth

Senior Adviser in EducationUSA Center,

United States-India Educational Foundation, Chennai


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