Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study



Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study

Article courtesy EducationUSA
July/August 2014
EducationUSA brings you the “5 Steps to U.S. Study,” a step-by-step process of understanding, preparing, applying and being admitted to a U.S. higher education institution.
Of all the study abroad destinations, the United States remains, by far, the most popular among Indian students. Over 100,000 Indian students are currently studying in America making India the second largest sender country in the world, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program April 2014 figures. The numbers notwithstanding, misconceptions remain about what it actually takes to get admitted to a U.S. college or university. The vast range of American institutions offering a multitude of study options and majors in a variety of settings makes it even more challenging for prospective students to find the right fit. Very often, poor choices are made based solely on a ranked list or hearsay. In an attempt to demystify the process, EducationUSA brings you the “5 Steps to U.S. Study”, a step-by-step process of understanding, preparing, applying and being admitted to a U.S. higher education institution. 
1. Research your options 
12 to 18 months prior to the intended date of enrollment

The best college or university is the one that meets your requirements—academic, financial and personal. Begin by defining your priorities by answering questions like, “What type of institution is best based on your academics?”, “How will you manage financing?”, “Why do you want to study in the United States?” and list your interests and long-term goals.

Next, begin your research—EducationUSA centers can help students with tools, guide how to refine searches and assist in narrowing down choices.

2. Complete your application  
6 to 12 months before the intended date of enrollment

Application packages require time, preparation and planning. Students will benefit greatly by starting the process early. A majority of U.S. schools evaluate applications holistically, which means decisions are based on several criteria and the strength of the complete application package. Key elements include academic records, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, application essays and work experience. 

3. Finance your studies  
3 to 9 months prior to intended date of enrollment

Tuition fees can range from $20,000 to $70,000 depending on the program, location and type of institution, i.e. public versus private. It is important to start financial planning as early as possible. Each year, international students receive significant amounts of financial assistance toward their studies but these are limited and intensely competitive. Financial assistance is typically provided through scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, internships and on-campus employment. Applications for financial aid accompany the applications for admission. 

4. Apply for a visa 
3 to 5 months in advance of the date of enrollment

You will first need to receive an admission letter and an I-20 from your U.S. institution before you can begin the visa application process. All students are required to appear for an interview in person at the Consular Office that serves their region. Consular websites provide detailed information on the process and requirements. EducationUSA advisers work in cooperation with consular officers to inform and educate prospective students as well. Students are encouraged to take advantage of information sessions that are frequently offered.

5. Prepare for departure 
2 to 4 months ahead of the intended date of enrollment

Predeparture orientations are offered by EducationUSA advising centers. Advisers and alumni provide information and resources that help prepare you for new experiences. Topics discussed include cultural differences, classroom expectations, housing, coping in a new cultural setting and what to pack for your trip.

Get started today by attending free group advising sessions at EducationUSA, available both online and in person. EducationUSA is the U.S. Department of State-supported network of advising centers providing international students with accurate, comprehensive and current information about how to apply to accredited U.S. institutions of higher education. There are seven EducationUSA centers in India in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Visit India to find an advising center near you. 

Photograph © Columbia University

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