The US has the world’s best universities with programs in all fields. There are many excellent opportunities for students at the under-graduate and graduate level as well. In recent years, the number of students studying in the US has risen by 31%. This article deals with how to make your dream of studying in the US a possibility.
Applying for Admission
- You must apply in advance as most schools in the US prefer prospective students to contact their office a year in advance.
- You may prefer one school over the others but it’s a good idea to contact several schools and request for the admission forms and other information.
- Complete the Application form for the schools you are applying to and pay the required fees.
- There may be test scores that you are required to submit in addition to the school records.
- Register for admission tests like SAT or ACT and indicate the school to which you are applying.
- Once you receive your acceptance letter pay a deposit to secure your place.
Applying for Scholarships
- Check if you are eligible for a scholarship. You may be required to appear in additional exams like TOEFL and achieve a certain score to be eligible to apply for a scholarship.
- Fill out an application form or submit any other document that has been specified.
- Watch out for scholarship scams as there are people out there trying to cheat you.
Which visa is required?
- F-1 visa is required if you are planning to attend elementary school, high school or university. In addition this visa is also required if you wish to study at a conservatory, seminary or in a language training program. This type of visa also applies to distance learning if you are required to spend some time on campus in the US.
- M-1 visa is required if you are planning to join a non-academic institution.
- The Visa Waiver Program and the ESTA visa do not apply to students who wish to study for credits.
- For short non-credit recreational studies a Visitor (B) visa can be obtained
How to Apply For a Visa
The steps may vary depending on the Consulate but generally the steps are listed below:
- The first step is to complete the application online. Complete the DS-160 online and print the confirmation page as this is required for the interview.
- Upload your photo according to the requirements.
- If you are 14 years or above you will have to schedule an interview. The wait times for interview appointments vary depending on location and visa category so make sure you apply well in time.
- Pay the visa application fees which are non-refundable.
- Prepare the documentation required for the interview. This also includes the Form I-20A-B or Form I-20M-N, depending on which visa you applied for. The I-20’ form must be signed by you and your school official. Review the information given on the website of the embassy for any additional documentation required.
- Attend the visa interview. If you are granted a visa you may be required to pay an additional issuance fee.
Preparing for your Visit
- Learn about healthcare options while you will be studying in the US. Many colleges and universities have their own mandatory health insurance plans. If they do not offer such plans, consider other companies that provide health insurance. You also need to have a copy of your immunization records with you. Most campuses offer a general medical facility, so you would not have to go off campus if you get sick.
- Buy your ticket in advance as this will help you save money.
- Whether you are staying with relatives or on your own, you need to plan in advance for your accommodation in the US. You may stay in a hostel or a discounted motel/hotel but be sure that it is located near your school or university to avoid extra travel costs.
- You may also want to plan ahead on how you will spend your spare time or the holidays you get. If you wish to explore the country then plan your itinerary in advance and work out the costs.
- Work out the best communication plan so that when you arrive in the US you can contact others and your loved ones can contact you. There are quite a few options available to make communication convenient for you like calling cards, getting a SIM card or using VoIP.
Life in the US
Whether it is your first time in the US or your first time as a student it will be a whole new experience for you.
- Be prepared for a culture shock. Things may be vastly different to the way of life you are used to back home and you will probably experience a culture shock when you start living in the US. Try to connect with like minded individuals and make sure you are in contact with your family back home. Psychological counseling or academic advisors are available if you are facing problems settling down.
- Try to integrate in the American culture. Learn about the customs there and the local holidays and how they are celebrated.
- Take part in extracurricular activities that may be offered on your campus and try to make new friends.
- Familiarize yourself with any safety issues in your area. Make sure you use a safe path to walk home and use your common sense if you ever face any kind of danger.
- Make sure you know what form of money you will be using to pay for your tuition fees and your everyday expenses. Don’t carry big amounts of cash around and try to explore the options of traveler’s checks or credit/debit cards.
- If you opt to work in the US to pay for your fees be sure to know that your visa allows it. You may find on-campus employment which would be very convenient for you. Otherwise there are some options for off-campus work as well.
Do consider how your studies in the US fit into your long term career plans as well as your personal goals. An education in the US may qualify you for many good careers and jobs. In all cases, your experience in the US as a student is sure to be a satisfying and life changing experience.