How to Study in the USA: A Guide for International Students

When you decide to study in the United States, you are making an incredible decision for your future and will be joining more than one million international students in the USA. There are many reasons to study in America, including career support and cultural diversity. If you are an international student seeking help in making your college decision, keep reading our guide to US universities — we will go over all the basics on how to study in the USA and apply to US colleges and universities.

Where to start your research on how to study in the United States

You can start your online research on how to study in the United States at the College Navigator website of the United States Department of Education, where you can look for associate, bachelor, and advanced degrees (master’s and doctoral degrees). There are other websites, like College Board’s Big Future, where you can look for undergraduate US colleges and universities by a variety of programs, features, or characteristics.

Take a look at college rankings to help you find the best international student colleges. League tables in the United Kingdom are an example of an official government list that ranks the best universities in a given country. Be that as it may, in the US, there are no open normalized school rankings. Instead, a number of private companies in the United States evaluate and rank colleges. U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, one of the most well-known ranking systems, ranks universities and colleges in a variety of categories, including Top Universities for International Students.

Forbes, The Princeton Review, and Times Higher Education are a few of the other well-known lists of colleges and universities. Rankings can be used by foreign students in the United States to determine which colleges offer top-notch educations. But keep in mind: When choosing a university, you shouldn’t rely solely on rankings.

As an aide for global understudies, a Shorelight guide can assist you with finding colleges that are inviting to understudies from around the world – and furthermore line up with your scholar and expert objectives.

Contact a College Advisor

Speaking to a US higher education expert can help you learn more about how to study in the USA and find colleges that match your academic interests, personal preferences, and professional plans.

EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State’s network, has over 430 educational advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories, so you can visit a center in or near your home region for more information. Also, Shorelight offers sessions with enrollment counselors to help foreign students in the US find universities that meet their needs.

If you want to meet American universities’ representatives in person, you can attend college or university fairs in your city, town, or school featuring several US higher education institutions. There may also be virtual webinars with university experts that you can attend online from home.

Choose a University Program

For many international students in the USA, your major (or the focus of your academic studies) might be the most important factor when choosing colleges to apply to in the United States. If you have multiple academic interests, you may be able to complete a double major at a particular college or university. Or, you may decide to add a minor (a secondary academic focus that requires about half the total classes taken for a major).

If you are unsure about what you want to study in the USA, do not worry: In the United States, most students change their minds on what their intended major will be during their time in college, and 20 to 50% of undergraduate students begin their first year in college with an undeclared major.

Academics are important, but when you think about where to study in the USA for your bachelor’s degree, consider the kind of university experience you want in the United States. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Do I want to attend a large university or a small college?
  • Should I go to a public college or a private college?
  • Would I be happier at a college campus that is in the countryside, a small town, or a city?
  • What do I want to study?
  • Which types of campus activities and student organizations do I want to join?

Housing for International Students

Depending on your university, you will likely know about your options and assignment for student housing before your departure. Many universities offer on-campus housing in dormitories, or have both on- and off-campus options including apartments, complexes, shared houses, and more. Carefully research each option prior to leaving and choose the option that best suits the needs of your lifestyle.

At Shorelight colleges and universities, you will take part in an orientation on arrival and ongoing advising sessions throughout your first year to ease the campus transition process. Sessions on international student housing, health insurance plans, on-campus work options, student activities and organizations, and much more will make you feel welcome.

Important Necessities for Students

International students in the US may find that campus life is very different compared to life at home. Before you arrive, it can be helpful to make a list of necessities to take with you to the US. Consider bringing and/or setting up:

  • A cell phone: Check with your service provider if your cell phone will work in the US and will let you make calls. If it does not, you may have to buy a US phone and calling plan.
  • A bank account: Research potential banks near campus for you to open an account in the US. Some banks may be affiliated with your university and give you benefits, like campus discounts or special offers at local retailers.
  • An adapter for electronics: The chargers or power cables for some of your electronics may not work with US power sockets. Consider changing your cables or bringing adapters.
  • Documentation: Make sure you have all important documents needed for your life as an international student, such as health insurance information, copies of your student visa and I-20 form, passport, recommendation letters, and test scores.
  • Personal medication: Check with your advisor if any medication you rely on is available in pharmacies near your campus. It may be helpful to bring extra medication with you in case of emergencies.

To learn more about how to study in USA, consider visiting the USA.gov website.

Your next steps for how to study in the USA? Go to classes, study hard, and make friends from around the world. Here’s to a rewarding experience as international students in the USA!

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