Image courtesy of Wilson Hui via Flickr (CC 2.0)
With thousands of U.S. colleges and universities to choose from, finding the right one for you can be a difficult task. Firstly, there’s huge choice in terms of type of institution, whether it’s private, liberal arts or big public colleges. But there are other criteria you should consider before applying as an international student.
Here are some of the ways you can narrow your search.
Find what’s important for you
Like with any major decision, some real thought needs to go in to what you want to get out of your university experience. It’s especially important for international students to think about this as you’re going outside your comfort zone for a few years in a new country.
Knowing what you want should apply to all aspects of your choice of college – not just the prestige of the institutions. Here are a few categories that you can use to make your list.
- Your budget (for the duration of your studies, including holidays). It’s no use choosing a college that you won’t be able to afford. First, calculate your overall maximum budget and any scholarships/funding you might have.
- College standing. It’s still important to go for the best college that you can, so include choices that you have the qualifications for (including IELTS band score), and will be noticed when you come to look for jobs.
- Job prospects. Apart from the standing of the university helping your job prospects, there may be particular places in the U.S that are better than others for you. If you’re a software developer, you’re more likely to find a job close to you if you choose to study in California, rather than Wyoming.
- Area. Do you want to live on a campus, or in a big city? It can make a huge difference to your life and options during the holidays. You may also want to see more of the rest of the country, so a place that’s too remote might not be for you. Make sure you’re clear about where you won’t go.
- Extra-curricular. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside of the classroom too, so you should keep in mind your hobbies and interests and which colleges offer the most for you.
Once you’ve got your list you can get to work on researching colleges and narrowing your list further.
Refer back to our recent View From Campus post for more on researching U.S. colleges.