What International Students Should Look For When Choosing a University From the United States

students huddled around globeAttending college in the United States is becoming an increasingly popular choice among international students. According to a recent report by U.S. News, “the United States enrolled the highest number of international students in its history during the 2012-2013 school year, welcoming 819, 644 undergraduate and graduate students to colleges and universities across the country.” While a student’s reasons for wanting to attend college in the United States vary from person to person, there are a few things every international student should be looking for when choosing a university.

What Do You Want Your University to Offer?

You already know what an admissions officer is looking for when he/she examines a student’s credentials (i.e. good grades, study habits, good admission test scores), but you need to have a clear picture of your ideal university. The biggest factors in this consideration are your field of study, as it relates to your academic and personal interests, size and location. Of course the quality of the programs is the most important, but you won’t enjoy your experience of attending a university in the United States if you dislike the size and location. Some students thrive off of urban areas while others prefer the country-side. If possible, it’s best to visit your top choices before sending in an application to determine whether you’d realistically accept their offer if admitted. Remember that college is what you make of it, so do ample research to make sure you don’t feel trapped later on. Furthermore, the United States offers tons of excellent colleges and universities that don’t fall in the same category as the ubiquitous Ivy Leagues or other major research universities. Since many international students try to go to the same school, you can mitigate the competition by assorting your applications with “brand name” schools and schools that aren’t as well known among international students.

What Are Your Values?

Many international students find Western culture enticing, but depending on where you come from, you may seek different resources to help you adjust. Since American colleges and universities have learned to meet the demand of international students, most schools offer a wide variety of services to assist with the transition. Resources can include special advising centers, counselors and international dorm rooms. Ask your schools of choice about student and campus life to determine which fall in line with your values. For instance, there are many options available for religious students, students who want to attend a same-sex school, a large LGBT community, and more. Try connecting with current students through social media outlets to get a fair perspective.

What Kind of Support Do You Need?

As mentioned before, size and location play a huge role in your adjustment to an American college or university. For that reason, some students may desire a school that provides extensive support for international students. But support can mean a lot of things; therefore, you need to decide if you’ll need more support academically or personally. If you think you’ll have a difficult time transitioning academically, you may want to opt for a smaller school where you’ll receive individualized attention from professors and other college personnel. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers at a big school, in that sense. Conversely, larger universities are used to providing support for international students, and for that reason, have more social programs in place for this part of the student population. You can also request more information about the school’s demographics to determine whether or not a lot of students from your country of origin attend a certain school. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people will create a close-knit support system that can help you assimilate to Western culture.

How Much Can You Afford?

American colleges and universities are known for being expensive in which domestic students even have trouble paying for admission and its associated costs. While there are scholarships available for international students, you cannot bank on one funding source for the majority of your education. Loans are also available to international students, but it’s best to borrow the least amount possible. Lastly, student visas also require you to prove that you’re financially capable of supporting yourself while attending school in the United States. For these reasons, admissions counselors heavily consider an international student’s ability to pay when deciding upon his or her application. They usually look at your family’s income, assets and other financial factors. Unfortunately, this means that despite good grades, recommendations, etc., a school may reject your application if you require a great deal of financial assistance. To avoid this disappointment, it’s best to only consider schools that are within your financial means. This will not only save time and money, but will increase your chances of acceptance.

Are Your Choices Reputable and Accredited?

Accreditation is key when choosing a school to attend in the United States as employers, other universities, and governments only recognize degrees obtained from accredited universities. Make sure that the school and your program of interest is accredited before sending in an application. Good examples include regional accreditations, such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or a school that is listed within the US Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions. Furthermore, you also may be concerned about ranking. Ranking is very important to American students in which they usually reach for the highest ranked schools that they’re eligible for. However, rankings vary across different listings, and each list ranks a college or a university in accordance with specific factors. It’s important to determine how these rankings are made so you’re choosing a school that fits the criteria that’s most important to you.

Applying to FNU as an International Student

Due to our emphasis on diversity, along with a predominantly Hispanic population, Florida National University is committed to working closely with international students during the admissions process through graduation, and afterwards. We also offer cultural programs for our students on campus that particularly enables international students to navigate life in Miami and beyond. For more information about our application process for international students, our general requirements, and other applicable information, visit www.fnu.edu or call one of our admission counselors today to prepare for this exciting new chapter of your life!

Resources

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Factors to consider. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.fulbright.org.uk/study-in-the-usa/undergraduate-study/choosing-universities/factors-to-consider

Haynie, D. (2013, November 11). U.s. sees record number of international college students. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/11/11/us-sees-record-number-of-international-college-students

What international students should look for at American universities. (2013, June 19). Retrieved from http://www.petersons.com/college-search/international-students-american-universities.aspx

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