4 Important Things All International Students Need to Know About Moving to the United States

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4 Important Things All International Students Need to Know About Moving to the United States

The United States considers itself a world leader in numerous venues. There are, however, very few areas where this title is more than deserved than education. The USA hosts some of the most prestigious colleges and universities on the planet, and the likes of Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT make the very top of this list.

So, if you’re an international student musing the idea of earning your degree stateside, you’ve made the right choice. You’ll be joining the ranks of people like Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and countless other people who learned their professional ropes in one of these institutions.

Still, moving abroad and adapting to a new environment always presents an uphill battle, even if we’re talking about climbing one very lucrative hill. Let’s see if we can make your journey a bit smoother.

Understand the education landscape

In this regard, the US education system can appear somewhat intimidating to students coming from around the world, especially Europe. But, as long as you master some basics, it’s really not that complicated.

First, you need to understand that the terms ‘university’, ‘college’, and even ‘school’ are often interchangeable. Once you get your degree here, you’ll be ready to move to postgraduate studies and enroll in some of the ‘graduate’ (grad) schools.

If we are to break down this whole system into clearly defined terms, we could say that US higher education consists of:

  • Associate degrees (AA, AS, AAS)
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees
  • PhD (Doctoral degrees)

Application to each of these education levels requires an appropriate SAT/ACT and to get one you will need to take the SAT exam. SAT scores sit between 600 and 1600, and enrolling in more sought-out universities will require that you get at least 1400. Mastering this lingo can be of immense use during the application process but also when the time comes to pen down an impressive CV.

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Carefully consider your accommodation options

This is yet another instance where you’ll have more than a couple of options to play with. One of the most popular comes in the form of on-campus dormitories (famous ‘dorms’) which are situated close to all essential education resources like libraries, faculties, and sports facilities and they make an excellent resource for networking.

But, in this case, you need to be ready to live as a part of the community. If you need more privacy, look for affordable rentals. Let’s say you are attending the University of Houston. Well, you can easily find your perfect student apartment in Houston with Campus Living Villages or some other local brand and get all the amenities and privacy you need. It’s really up to your personal preferences.

Sort out the finances

Earning a degree in the USA can be a very expensive endeavor. Depending on the school you enroll in, your tuition fees can range anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. Also, take into account that in order to access the local healthcare system and start the studies, you’ll need to pay for health insurance. Fortunately, some universities do offer an option of group healthcare coverage, so you’ll have an easier time keeping up with the expenses.

Still, finding a side gig is more than recommended. With that in mind, students with an F1 visa are allowed to work at the campus of their university for 20 hours per week and up to 40 hours during the breaks. That should allow you to clear most of the day-to-day expenses and even put some money aside for the trip to North Carolina or some other popular location.

Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik

Apply for an appropriate visa

Speaking of visas, if you want to earn a degree in the USA, you basically have two options to choose from:

  • F1 visa: This visa is reserved for students who are entering the country for purely academic reasons or pursuing language training. Even though this option may prove to be more limited in some other areas, getting an F1 is absolutely necessary for access to higher education. To get one, you’ll need to fill in the DS-160, pay around $500, and obtain the I-20 form from your native university.
  • M1 visa: M1 visas are designed primarily for non-academic or vocational courses. They hold certain advantages in terms of employment and the ability to travel the country but also limit the number of educational options you have at the table. Most notably, in order to get the M1 visa, you need to study in junior or community college and undergo at least 12 semester hours.

Conclusion

We hope these couple of guidelines give you a general idea about what it takes to enroll in one of the USA universities and make your stateside foothold. Of course, all the things we’ve covered are only the starting point of your journey, and you’ll need to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience various aspects of living in the USA yourself.

But, every journey starts with a single step and you need to make this first step count. Things we have covered above should give you that sense of certainty you need to push forward.

Mike Johnston

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