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Education in the US
The College Search and Admissions Process
The United States has many prestigious colleges and universities, and figuring out which one is right for you or your child can be confusing. In this article, we give you an overview of different types of universities and information on the admissions process, financial aid, and student visas.
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Choosing a College or University
Take enough time to research individual universities and figure out which college or university best fits your personal needs. Consider visiting a few of your top choices. After all, you want to spend your money wisely and get the best out of your education. You should probably start planning 12 to 18 months before you actually want to begin your degree program. Here are some things to consider when you do your research:
- Which university offers the right academic program?
- What is your budget? Are you eligible for financial aid or scholarships?
- What are the deadlines for general admission to the college / grad school? Are there different deadlines for financial aid programs?
- Register to take standardized tests (see below). Remember that you need to hand in your test results with all the other application forms before the deadline.
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Applications and the Admissions Process
Narrow down your choices to approximately ten universities and colleges. Make sure to study their websites thoroughly and find out which documents are required for your application. Whether you are admitted to any of the schools you have applied for generally depends on various factors, but the following are usually considered essential:
- Command of the English language
- Scores on standardized admission tests
- Adequate financial resources
- A strong academic background (particularly for graduate studies)
To prove your command of the English language, taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is usually sufficient. This test is offered in different TOEFL test centers all around the world. In special cases, some universities will accept other English tests as well. Check the admissions section on the university homepage to find out which tests your college or university of choice accepts.
In the admissions section, you will also find the institution’s requirements for standardized tests. Most schools require you to take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the ACT. Grad schools in particular require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for all applications.
Financial Aid and Visas
US universities offer a lot of options for scholarships and financial aid. Contact them in advance to find out about which kinds of financial aid you might qualify for and when to hand in your extra application. Since US universities and colleges can be very expensive, make sure to look into any options for financial aid that your university may offer.
Alternatively, you can also try to take part in an exchange program that often allows you to waive the tuition fee. However, this will only give you the chance to study in the US for a short period. Your home country may offer different scholarship programs for studying abroad as well.
When the financial part of your education is settled, you have to apply for an appropriate US visa. As a non-US citizen, you will receive the necessary paperwork once you have been admitted to a university. You can then make an appointment for a visa interview with the closest consulate. US universities have a lot of experience with foreign students and should therefore provide you with all the necessary information for your student visa applications.
US Universities: General Advice
Unlike universities in some other countries, US universities enjoy a lot of freedom in creating their own academic programs, curricula and application requirements. For this very reason, it is essential that you contact the schools in person if anything is unclear to you. Tailor your applications exclusively to each school’s individual requirements and (if necessary) moral/ethical/religious values in order to fit their expectations.
You can find detailed information and advice on how to apply properly at websites like EducationUSA. Also have a look at university rankings and the university’s own website. This information will also help you figure out if the school actually suits your personal needs.