What You Need to Know to Study in the USA

Being so large and so filled with life, moving to the United States as a student can sometimes be very intimidating. Adapting to a new culture is always a daunting task, so we want to offer some tips to help you make that change as smooth as possible!

#1. Where You Choose to Study Matters a Lot

Since the United States offers so many types of education experience, what you decide on can have a huge impact on how you will enjoy your time in the United States. Perhaps you prefer a smaller rural liberal arts college or a city-wide institution with a variety of course types, or any of the many other education options you have at your disposal.

Social life at your college may depend entirely on the type of city your university is set in. The type of school, the size of the city, and the students present will change and affect your life beyond the walls of your classrooms.

College towns are often small and mostly occupied by university buildings, events, and associations. Most residents are students, staff, and faculty members of the university.

Cities are much larger with a smaller percentage of students. Students and staff members at the universities tend to commute from the neighbouring cities or towns to go to the university, and the university is generally located in a small neighbourhood by the campus.

Of course, one is not necessarily better than the other, and it will come down to personal preference. If you can’t decide which you might prefer, perhaps try and find an institution that offers the best of both worlds.

#2. U.S. Institutions Offer Great Flexibility

In U.S. colleges and universities, students typically pick multiple subjects and declare one of them their ‘major’, which is the main subject the student will graduate in. It’s unsurprising to find students majoring in Physics and also taking a ‘minor’ course in English Literature, Mathematics or something completely different on the side.

Course lengths can also vary greatly, so make sure you understand how much time each can take and how long it may be until your career can begin. For example, graduating a law degree won’t make you a lawyer- it sets you up for a career in law, and extra courses may be required when you graduate. So keep a close eye on your course options when applying!

#3. U.S. Colleges Have Great Student Services

Travelling to the United States and then becoming acclimatized to the new culture can take some time, but that’s why American institutions have so much support to help students that need it, including things like:

  • Course registration and advising
  • Financial aid
  • Career advice
  • On-campus psychiatry and counselling

You should make the most of these if you feel like you need to. Having access to strong student services can help you make your experience fun, successful and manageable. New experiences will always be a bit of a challenge since you will be out of your comfort zone, but that’s where progress is made.

There are also, of course, many clubs and organizations that colleges and universities can offer, which support and bring a sense of community to students. These may be based around sports, hobbies, lifestyles choices or hobbies.

#4. There is more to the U.S. than the Ivy League

The Ivy League colleges of America are world renowned for their prestige and high teaching quality. But that doesn’t mean they are the only options for studying in the United States. Depending on the course or style of experience you would prefer, it may be more worthwhile looking into the many other quality institutions that are on offer. 

By expanding your options, you may just find something better suited and perhaps save yourself some money too.

#5. It’s Not as Expensive as It Is Advertised

The United States can be notorious for having some very expensive places to live and study, but this isn’t always entirely accurate. One major reason for this is that college fees will often cover insurance, accommodation, food and other necessities, which studying in say, Europe, won’t necessarily cover. 

Make sure to check what financial aid you are eligible for from your university, and any scholarships that you might be able to apply for.

#6. Class Structure is Different to What You May Be Used To

Classes are often held through discussions and seminars. Your grades will depend on your assignments and how you have been able to cope with the discussions. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no stress on attendance. Nobody in the U.S. will ask you to attend classes or keep track on how you are you managing your classes. That depends on you.

What does matter is the number of hours you are giving to a specific subject. You are expected to be well prepared and take the initiative during seminars rather than wait for the professor to give you the information.

#7. The U.S. Has Some of the Best Food in the World

Having people from all over the world means that America has a very diverse food culture. So, name any cuisine - Chinese, Mexican, Indian - and you will find a good restaurant somewhere.

Also, everything in the USA comes in huge proportions. If you are single person dining at a restaurant it is better if you avoid large sizes or anything, unless, of course, your appetite runs high!

#8. Always Be On the Lookout for Rewards for Your Talents

You deserve a university that recognizes your talents and gives you the opportunity to enhance them. Participating in honours courses or programs provide outstanding preparation for careers and graduate school.

#9. International Education Fairs Are the Best Way to Get More Info

In this day and age there is plenty of information available online for prospective students, but it pales in comparison to the personalised details you can get at an education fair. The United States, in particular, are so large, with so many course options it can be challenging getting to grips with what might be best for you.