Why study in the United States?
With over one million international students attending American schools and universities in 2019, the USA is the leading destination to study. The country currently has more than 5000
colleges and universities, offering a wide range of options to international students.
Excellent International Academic Reputation
The US is a leading country when it comes to many disciplines, including research and technology. The country’s impressive achievements in leading sectors based on cutting edge-technology and pioneering techniques partly stem from a strong university network based on rigorous entry requirements and high-quality teaching methodologies.
In 2020, the prestigious QS World University Ranking
revealed that 27 American universities were featured in the top 100 of the world’s best universities. With over a quarter of the best 100 universities in the world located in the US alone, it’s, therefore, no surprise the country is so appealing to countless international students looking to shape a successful career.
Besides, a significant number of the world’s greatest geniuses have studied in the top American universities. Indeed, from Buzz Aldrin and Steve Wozniak to Elon Musk, highly-ranked American universities have helped some of the greatest minds on the planet harness and develop their full potential and ultimately achieve their dreams.
As American qualifications are recognised worldwide and are extremely valuable to prospective employers, studying in the USA can give you a significant head start over other candidates.
To help you assess your future prospects, many university websites will advertise their employment success rate after graduating (for both American and international students). You’ll find a list of top universities for graduate employability.
International Student Support
American universities are well versed in supporting international students. Indeed, most of them offer campus orientations to show students around. They also feature student offices where student advisors will help you with any administrative tasks. They can also help you settle in this new country and provide some general guidance, tips, and advice. American campuses also provide access to student clubs to encourage socialization and friendships. Some of them even offer overseas students dedicated classes to learn more about the American way of life.
The cost of studying in the USA is consistently rising, which can be a real challenge for some students. Therefore many US universities offer scholarships or grants to help international students with the cost of studying in America.
The USA is a multicultural society known for being a melting pot of cultural diversity. Regardless of your ethnicity, traditions, and beliefs, studying in the USA can prove an enriching experience. Being exposed to different cultures can also be a great asset to highlight later on when job hunting.
Education Systems in the US
Primary ( K–5th grade)
At around age six, American students are required to attend primary school (or elementary school) for five to six years before starting secondary school. Primary school focuses on helping children develop social skills and a basic understanding of some important subjects such as maths or English.
Secondary school is divided into two different programs:
Middle School: 6th–8th grades
High School: 9th–12th grades
Even though students can choose some of their courses (depending on the school), some subjects are compulsory, including Science, Mathematics, English, and Social Sciences. After three years in high school, and upon graduation, students will receive a diploma or certificate.
At the end of high school, many US students will apply to college or university. To be selected, they’ll need to provide universities with a number of qualifications. Qualifications reviewed by colleges or universities include (but are not limited to) the average grades over the last four years of high school (called Grade Point Average or GPA), personal achievements, and teachers’ recommendations.
An associate degree is the first step most students take after secondary school. Courses are designed to provide students with the foundational academic and technical skills they need to enter a particular trade (entry-level positions) or to further pursue their studies. It usually takes two years of full-time study to complete the degree. Most community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and universities offer associate degree options.
A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete. They can give students access to entry-level or management positions depending on the degree and the positions requirements. Bachelor’s degrees are usually required to pursue postgraduate studies.
Note that, while both degrees are categorized under ‘’undergraduate studies’’, entry requirements are more competitive for bachelor’s degrees.
With a master’s degree, students specialize in a particular area. They usually take one to two years to complete and require a good GPA score along with an undergraduate degree. They typically give students access to executive-level positions.
Doctorates are the highest academic degree awarded by universities, and as such, entry requirements can be strict. They take a few years to complete and allow students to become experts in their field.
Students life in the US
Studying in America is a fantastic opportunity to explore some of the country’s top landmarks.
With a landmass almost as big as the European continent, the country brims with beautiful landscapes and incredible cultural destinations. Some of the best spots to explore include:
Yosemite National Park, California
Death Valley, California
Napa Valley, California
Empire State Building in New York City
Statue of Liberty, New York City
Niagara Falls, New York
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Key things to know
The American education system is very interactive and student-centric. Therefore, students are expected to get involved in conversations and discussions during classes.
Once you’ve enrolled in an institution, you’ll be assisted by a Designated School Official (DSO) for any questions or administrative tasks you need help with.
Getting involved in extracurricular activities is very common within the student community.
Americans are informal in their behaviour, the way they speak, or the way they dress.
They also strongly believe in communication and honesty to solve conflicts.
There are a few important holidays in the USA. They’re usually a great time for friends and family to get together and celebrate. Some of these holidays include New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas Day.
The US is made up of 50 states and two districts (District of Columbia and Puerto Rico).
On-campus Dormitories (or residence halls)
Dormitories are a popular option, especially for first-year students, as this is a great way to meet people and experience the American way of life on university campuses. Dorm rooms typically accommodate two students and don’t feature bathrooms, they usually have shared facilities. Some residence halls are single-sex. A dorm room can cost anywhere between $8,000USD to $13,000USD a year, but this will vary depending on the school.
Some schools don’t provide on-campus accommodation, meaning you’ll have to find a shared apartment or rent your own. We’d recommend connecting with the Office of Housing Services at your university to see whether they can help find a room.
American cities and towns are well-connected, and whether you live on-campus or off-campus, you’ll be able to get around by public transport:
The bus network within suburban areas and between cities is quite extensive. Each city and state will have its own transportation website or app, so make sure you familiarise yourself with bus schedules and routes. Greyhound is the leading company for cross-country trips both within the country and to Canada and Mexico.
Note that most cities offer student concessions on transport fares upon showing a student ID. Some big campuses also operate their own buses for free.
Some of the biggest cities have extensive subway networks like in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland.
Amtrak is the national railway provider and takes passengers to 500 destinations in 46 states. Amtrak offers up to 15% student discounted rates on specific destinations.
It’s very common for students to organize and use carpooling around holiday time to reduce transport costs. Some schools even organize carpooling services to help students.
As mentioned before, campuses typically offer orientation programs to guide international students and help them settle and make connections. American universities also provide students with a wide range of services such as sports and fitness facilities, games rooms, libraries, student lounges, clubs, and they strongly encourage social activities.
Joining a student club, sorority, fraternity, or a sports team is not only a great way to develop your social network, but it’s also the best way to immerse yourself in the American culture. Life on university campuses is highly social in the USA. Students often get together after class to enjoy beers at a local bar, a meal at a local restaurant or attend house parties. They also enjoy playing sports and watching games together, especially basketball, American football and baseball.
The US student visa
At the time of writing, the student visa fee for F/M students is $350 and $220 for J students.
Although not a requirement to apply for a student visa, your institution will most likely require you to have health insurance to cover your potential medical fees . They’ll usually have their own insurance plans for students, but you can choose another provider if their cover doesn’t align with your budget.
Note: For students who apply with SpringBoard4Education in any countries, we help you prepare the necessary documents for your student visa application, as well as other steps in the process, completely free of charge.
As mentioned before, you’ll only be allowed to work on-campus during your studies as an F-1 student, although exceptions exist. There are a few ways to try to secure a job on your campus:
Network with older students to try and find opportunities
. Signing up for student clubs or sports organizations can be a great way to establish a network.
American universities have career centres that can help you with your job search.
If you’re comfortable with the door to door approach, this could be an efficient way to secure a part-time job. Ask for help at your university career center to create the best resume for the type of positions you want to prospect and drop your resume into suitable places. In the US, proactivity and determination are often rewarded.
The most popular student on-campus jobs are found in:
You can also work as a Teaching Assistantship, Graduate Assistantship, or Research Assistantship for your university. Not only will you gain valuable skills and experience, but your tuition fee will also be discounted.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, American qualifications are recognised worldwide, allowing international students to find employment rapidly. Indeed, according to a study led by the
in 2017, 82% of international students received an employment offer within six months following graduation.
Note that getting a working visa after graduating to stay in the USA can be challenging.
However, in order to attract foreign talents, STEM students (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) can ask for a 24-month visa extension and are allowed to work during the period.