WHY STUDY IN USA
Maybe you have been dreaming of studying in the U.S.A. for a long time, or maybe you have discovered that you need to improve your English in order to continue your studies or career. You may also have discovered that you can best gain expertise in your field at a particular U.S. university. Whatever the reasons, you now hope to come to the U.S.A. to accomplish your goals.
You have read about the U.S.A., seen American films and videos and talked to Americans. But only the experience of actually living in the U.S.A. will give you the mastery of the language and sympathy with the culture that is necessary for understanding this large and influential country.
Many foreign students arrive in the U.S.A. with misconceptions about American life. They are pleasantly surprised to find that not all Americans are blond, wealthy or intolerant of others.
The land and people of the U.S.A. are incredibly varied. Wherever you choose to study, you will encounter a regional culture rich in history, local traditions and customs. The U.S.A. is a multi-racial society that is still absorbing new immigrants. While students must exercise caution in a few locations, in much of the U.S.A., streets and university campuses are clean and safe.
U.S. universities may differ from those in your own country in several ways. For one thing, classes are generally small. There may be as few as ten to twenty students in a class. While in class, students are encouraged and expected to contribute to the discussion. Professors meet with students in their offices or even share coffee or meals with them. The close relationship between students and faculty serves to motivate students and fosters a personal approach to the curriculum.
Most U.S. university students live on or near the school campus. When you are studying in the U.S.A., you will have many opportunities to join planned and informal activities, spending your leisure and study hours with other students. This will enhance your language skills. From your fellow students you will learn about U.S. culture and about all the other diverse cultures represented on any U.S. campus.
The Leading Edge
While studying in the U.S.A., you will be exposed to some of the most up-to-date developments in technology. You may be fortunate enough to meet and even study with the leading scholars in your chosen field.
Study in the USA can help you to embark on this exciting academic voyage, and to make the next decision-where to study.
After you have chosen several colleges and universities where you would like to study, you can begin applying for admission. Each U.S. college or university sets its own admission standards and decides which applicants meet those standards.
You must apply separately to each college or university.
Even if you have selected one school where you are sure you want to study, you should still apply to other schools. Remember that you are competing with international students from all over the world for a limited number of spaces in each entering class. It is possible that your "first choice" school may not accept you. Generally it is wise to apply to several schools. At least one or two of your choices should be a school where you and your advisor are fairly certain you would be admitted.
Most U.S. schools encourage international students to contact them at least a year before they plan to enter that school.
Follow these steps as you apply to U.S. colleges and universities:
- Email or write to several schools. Select your school/college of your choice. After you have selected those schools where you want to study, contact them for more information and an application form by using the Request Information forms appearing on each school's profile.
- Send application forms. The Admissions Office or postgraduate school department will send you information about their academic programs. This will include an application form. (You might be able to obtain a specific school's application form at your local educational advising center educational advising center.) The application form usually asks for:
Certified transcripts. U.S. colleges and universities usually base their admissions decisions on a student's academic record. The Admissions Office will look at your marks during the last four years of secondary school and on the national secondary school examinations in your country. If you are applying to graduate school, the Admissions Office or department will look at your marks from college or university.
Ask the school you are now attending, or the school you have attended most recently, to mail a certified copy of your academic record to the schools where you are applying.
Activities. Make a list of clubs to which you belong, awards earned, team sports experience or leadership roles you have exercised.
Personal information. State your name, age, address, family background, birthplace, citizenship, and so forth.
Education plan. Write a short essay telling why you want to attend this school, what course of study you want to pursue, what your career goals and research plans are.
Letters of recommendation. The application form will probably include several blank pages to be completed by your teachers. Ask several of your teachers to complete the forms and mail them directly to the Admissions Office.
Admissions tests. Most schools ask for official reports of test scores (see below).
Application fee. You will pay the school a fee, probably between US $30 and $50, payable by check in U.S. dollars. This money pays for processing your application, and it will not be refunded if you do not attend the school.
Be sure to send your application to the college or university well before the deadline.
- Register for admissions tests. Students applying to U.S. colleges and universities must take examinations that measure aptitude and achievement. International students must also take a test that measures English proficiency. These tests are given at test centers around the world. They are "standardized," so that students take the same test at every test center. Your scores give the Admissions Office a uniform international standard for measuring your ability in comparison with other students.
- Take the admissions tests. You can have your test scores sent directly to the colleges and universities to which you are applying. You will be asked to indicate the names of these schools when you register to take certain tests, such as the SAT. Or, you will mark them on your answer sheet when you take other tests, such as TOEFL. The testing agencies will mail your scores to these schools. Later, for a fee, you can ask the testing agencies to send your scores to other schools.
After the application deadline, you will receive letters from the schools to which you have applied. Some schools tell students if they have been accepted soon after the students documents arrive at the Admissions Office. This is called "rolling admissions." Other schools wait several months before writing you with their decision.
Paying Your Deposit
Most schools require students to pay a deposit before a certain deadline if they want to reserve space in the entering class. For international students, this deposit can be as high as a semester's or a full year's tuition.
You should send your deposit immediately if you are applying for financial aid or if you plan to live in college housing. Many schools do not have enough campus housing for all the students, so you will have a better chance of getting a room on campus if you send your housing application and a room deposit fee as soon as possible.
The school that admits you may also ask you for a statement that shows how much money you have available for all the years you will be in school. If your government or company is sponsoring you, you will need to send details of your award.
Then, your school will send you an I-20 form or an Exchange Visitors IAP-66 form. With one of these forms, you can apply for a visa to stay in the U.S.A.
TOEFL | SAT | GRE | GMAT | MAT |
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®). For more information, write to P.O. Box 6155, Princeton, NJ 08541-6155, U.S.A., or visit the TOEFL web site at http://www.toefl.org/.
In 1998, TOEFL began to move from paper-based testing to computerized testing in several areas. In the year 2000 the computer-based TOEFL test will be introduced in many other countries. For the most recent list of areas where computer-based TOEFL is offered, please visit the TOEFL Web site.
Test of Written English and Test of Spoken English
On five test dates, the Test of Written English(TWE®) will be given as part of the paper-based TOEFL test. (See Registration/Testing Schedule box.) The TWE measures the ability to generate, organize, and develop ideas and to support those ideas with examples of evidence. This section directly measures the examinee's ability to compose an essay in response to an assigned topic.
The Test of Spoken English (TSE®) is designed to evaluate the oral language proficiency of nonnative speakers of English. Examinees are asked to give oral answers to questions that are presented in written and oral form. The TSE is not administered as part of the TOEFL test; in those places where paper-based TOEFL is given, the TSE test is administered separately but on the same test date.
Prepare with Materials from TOEFL
The TOEFL Bulletin of Information for Computer-Based Testing and the Information Bulletin for TOEFL, TWE, & TSE (for the paper-based TOEFL test) explain procedures for making testing appointments and lists required fees, test center locations, and identification requirements. They also provide questions from the test to help candidates familiarize themselves with the format of the test.
The SAT® Program of the College Board. For information, write to P.O. Box 6200, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6200, U.S.A. or visit College Board Online® at http://www.collegeboard.org/.
The SAT I: Reasoning Test is a three-hour, primarily multiple choice test that measures general verbal and mathematical reasoning skills that develop over time.
The SAT II: Subject Tests are one-hour, primarily multiple choice tests in specific subjects such as French or Chemistry. Subject Tests measure knowledge of a subject and the ability to apply that knowledge. You can take up to three Subject Tests on a single test date.
Check the SAT Program Registration Bulletin or College Board Online for test dates and fees. You can get Registration Bulletins, including mail and fax registration forms, from an advising center in your country or by writing to the SAT Program at the address above, our you can register online (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express Card required). You can take either the SAT I or the SAT II
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE®). P. O. Box 6000 Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, USA. Website: http://www.gre.org/
The computer-based GRE General Test measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical reasoning skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are not necessarily related to any particular field of study. Because test questions are tailored to ability level, less time is spent answering questions that are either too easy or too difficult. The computer-based General Test is offered year-round in the United States and most locations around the world.
You can register for either the GRE General Test or the new Writing Assessment by phone, fax, or mail. Plan to register early to get preferred test dates and avoid the crowded testing period of November through January. Obtain registration and test center details from the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin or on the Web site.
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT®). Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6101, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6101, U.S.A.
This test contains verbal, quantitative, analytical, and essay sections. It is usually required for graduate programs in business and management. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) that is available, year-round, at test centers throughout the world.
Complete information on the test, including a downloadable version of the GMAT Bulletin of Information, can be found on the GMAT website at http://www.gmat.org/. This location also includes links to many of the schools that require GMAT scores for admission.
Miller Analogies Test (MAT). For more information write to: The Psychological Corporation, 555 Academic Court, San Antonio, Texas 78204-3956, U.S.A. Telephone: (210) 921-8804, Fax: (210) 921-8861.
The MAT is a high-level mental ability test that requires the solution of 100 problems stated in the form of analogies. The MAT is accepted by over 2,300 graduate school programs as a part of their admissions process. The test items use different types of analogies to sample a variety of fields, such as mathematics, natural science, social science, literature, and fine arts. Examinees are given 50 minutes to complete the test.
The MAT is offered at more than 600 test centers throughout the United States and Canada. For examinee convenience, the test is given on an "as needed" basis at most test centers.
It is difficult to measure the value of a U.S. education. It is an investment that will reward you all of your life. The cost of going to school in the U.S.A. is at least several thousand dollars a year and can exceed $30,000 a year at many colleges and universities. Estimates of costs that you read in this handbook and elsewhere may be too low. Please remember that foreign students are not allowed to work during the first academic year in the U.S.A., and their spouses are not allowed to work at all. You cannot expect to support yourself while you study.
To get a visa to study in the U.S.A., you must show that you have enough money for the entire time you will be in the country.
- Tuition: Private colleges and universities are often more expensive than state-supported schools. Most state schools charge a higher, "non-resident" rate to students who have not lived in that state for at least one year. Students from outside the U.S.A. are considered non-residents.
You will likely have to pay other fees. For example, most schools require all students to pay a "student activities fee" to support clubs and sports. You probably will pay extra fees if you use a special science laboratory, fine arts studio, or athletic facilities.
- Books and Supplies: Students must pay for books, notebooks, and other study supplies. These cost several hundred dollars a year, although you can sometimes save money by buying used textbooks.
Computer facilities may or may not be easily available to you at any given university. This is a question worth investigating when you choose your school. At a few universities, each student must buy a personal computer. Usually these computers are available at special discount prices.
- Room and Board: The cost of room and board will be in addition to your tuition fees. Housing and food sometimes cost more at schools that are located in cities than in rural or suburban areas. Most schools charge an extra fee for housing, and some also charge in advance for meals in the dining hall.
At least during the first year in the U.S.A., foreign students usually live in residence halls or dormitories, often with one or more roommates. But at some colleges, universities, and English language institutes, particularly in big cities, students often can live more economically if they find their own apartments off campus. If you plan to rent an apartment, you should have enough money to pay at least one month's rent in advance plus a "security deposit" of at least another month's rent.
- Personal Expenses: These are items such as stamps, toothpaste, soap, medicine, newspapers, laundry and dry cleaning, transportation, recreation, and entertainment.
Some schools provide laundry and dry cleaning service with regular deliveries to residence halls. You usually can find a self-service laundromat (coin-operated washers and dryers) in your residence hall or near the campus.
- Payment: Students pay for tuition, and usually also for room and board and other fees, in one sum. This transaction usually takes place at the beginning of a term. You will need to have this amount available in a U.S. checking account to insure a safe means of payment. Never carry large amounts of cash.
Many schools require foreign students to buy health insurance when they enroll. Insurance protects a student against exorbitantly high medical costs in the U.S.A.
In addition, for a small annual fee, most colleges and universities provide free medical examinations and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses. However, because U.S. medical costs are so high, you will probably want health and accident insurance too, even if the school does not require it.
Your school probably offers a comprehensive medical insurance policy designed for international students whose families are not covered by U.S. health insurance. A comprehensive policy, which will cost at least $500, covers visits to the doctor's office, medicine, hospitalization, surgery, ambulance care, X-rays and laboratory tests. Costs for a family will be at least $200 per month.
These policies do not cover dental work or eye examinations and glasses. You should get glasses or contact lenses before you go to the U.S.A.
More than 60% of the foreign students in the U.S.A. pay for their education themselves. It's estimated that another 15% receive financial aid from their governments.
Only a very few U.S. schools offer some financial aid specifically for foreign students. Therefore, you should not plan to finance all or even part of your U.S. education through U.S. scholarships or loans. Even if you do receive some financial aid, you and your family will still probably have to pay for part of your tuition, living expenses or both.
If you need financial aid in order to study in the U.S.A., you should first find out if you can obtain funding in your own country. Check with your government, your parents' employers, or clubs and religious organizations.
If you cannot obtain aid from these sources, then write to the schools that interest you. Ask for an application for financial aid. However, it is not likely that you will get a scholarship, especially if you are an undergraduate.
Emergency Relief for Asian students
The currency crisis in Asia has forced many families to reconsider how they will finance their children's education. The U.S. government and many universities are trying to help them during this difficult time.
The government's Immigration and Naturalization Service is temporarily changing its regulations so that certain Asian students can reduce the required time spent in school and work additional hours. University administrators are assisting students with such programs as:
- Delayed tuition and housing payment
- Partial tuition waivers based on academic performance
- More on-campus job opportunities
- Loans for personal expenses
- Assistance for highly qualified students to apply early for assistantships and fellowships
- Deferred admission
- Permission to cancel residence hall contracts
- Financial planning workshops
Holding a Job
The U.S. Government's Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulates foreign student employment. Currently, students attending school in the U.S.A. on an F-1 (student) visa may work up to 20 hours a week at the school they are attending, on school premises, without prior approval from the INS.
Although you may be able to work part-time at your school or nearby, the money you earn will probably not be enough to pay for your living expenses.
Estimated Average Costs for U.S. Colleges and Universities (September - May, 2000-2001)
Tuition & Fees
Room & Board
Books & Supplies
The U.S.A. issues different types of visas to temporary visitors, including students. As a full-time student, you would receive an F-1 or M-1 visa. Your spouse and children would receive F-2 or M-2 visas. As an Exchange Visitor, you would receive a J-1 visa. Exchange Visitors come to the U.S.A. for consultation, training, research or teaching.
After a college, university, or English language school has accepted you for admission to full-time study, the school will send you a document called an I-20 form, which is the application for an F-1 visa. If you will be an Exchange Visitor, the organization or U.S. Government agency that is sponsoring you will send you an IAP-66 form, which is the application for a J-1 visa.
The M visa is for students at technical schools. If you enter the U.S.A. on an M visa and then decide to study at a college, university, or English school, you will not be able to change your M visa to an F visa. However, you can enter the U.S.A. on an F visa and later change this to an M visa if you transfer to a technical school.
If you will be studying English before entering college or university, your government and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate may require you to have a "conditional acceptance" from the college or university you ultimately wish to attend after your English study. Your conditional acceptance letter will promise you admission at a later date, if you satisfactorily complete the English language course. You will also need an I-20 from your English language institute.
Where to Go
After you have received your I-20 form or IAP-66 form, take the form along with your passport to a U.S. Embassy or Consular official in charge of non-immigrant visas. You will be required to show that you have financial support for the entire time you plan to study in the U.S.A. Get an "Affidavit of Support" form from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Complete this form with information about your sources of financing, and submit it along with your other documents. You may also need to prove that you are in good health. Check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find out if this is necessary in your country.
After You Finish
If you have an F or M visa, after you finish your studies, either you must leave the U.S.A., get permission for practical training or apply for a different type of visa.
If you have had an F-1 visa for nine months, you may apply to stay in the U.S.A. up to one year for practical training directly related to your field of study. This category, however, does not apply to a student in an ESL program, although the time spent studying English as an F-1 student can count toward the nine month study requirement, on condition that you became enrolled in a full-time course of academic study.
If you are an Exchange Visitor who has come to the U.S.A. to be trained in a program not available in your home country, you may be permitted to stay in the U.S.A. for this training for up to 18 months after you finish your studies. Your sponsor must approve this training.
If you hold an Exchange Visitor visa under a program financed through the U.S. government or your country's government, or if you have acquired skills that are listed as needed in your home country, such as graduate medical education or training, you will be required to return home for at least two years after you finish the Exchange Visitor program.