Study in The USA

Detailed Guide About Studying and Living in The USA

Location : North America bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean between Canada & Mexico.

Area : 96,31,418 square kilometers

Population : 29,65,00,000 (est.) (3rd largest)

Main Cities : NY, DC, PA, CA, NC etc.

Industries : Dairy, Automobile, Education etc

Often called ‘the land of opportunities and hope’, ‘technological foundry’, and ‘the land of adventure’, United States of America needs no formal introduction. The climatic and geographic variations, the cultural diversity, the commitment and dedication to the development of new technologies, a flourishing and strong economy with a liberalized education system make USA an ideal country for international students.

Climate

The climate of USA varies as one moves from one zone to another due to the vast landscape. Generally the western and southern half of the USA has an overall warmer weather, as compared to the eastern and northern half. Eastern/Northern half is cold in winters accompanied by snowfall, and has pleasant summers. Whereas the Western/Southern part has hot summers and comparatively tolerable winters.

Culture

American culture is like a salad bowl in which the immigrants’ individual differences retain their flavour while still contributing to the whole. In short, the country has welcomed people from all over the world and assimilated different cultures while giving space and liberty to each culture to retain its identity. This cultural diversity is seen in the different faiths practiced and followed in USA, the different dialects and languages spoken across the continent and the different music traditions that have flourished there.

Government

The United States is a federal union of 50 states, with the District of Columbia as the seat of the federal government. The Constitution outlines the structure of the national government and specifies its powers and activities, and defines the relationship between the national government and individual state governments. Power is shared between the national and state (local) governments. Within each state are counties, townships, cities and villages, each of which has its own elective government. Governmental power and functions in the United States rest in three branches of government: the legislative, judicial, and executive. In this system of a”separation of powers” each branch operates independently of the others, however, there are built in “checks and balances” to prevent a concentration of power in any one branch and to protect the rights and liberties of citizens. Liberty, equality and fraternity are the pillars of the government in USA.

Economy

United States of America has the most technologically advanced, diverse and the largest economy in the world. This powerful economic force, known for its entrepreneurial spirit, is one where private individuals and businesses (of all sizes) thrive by selling their goods and services internally, and across the globe. Even the huge U.S. government complex buys most of its needed goods and services predominantly in the U.S. private marketplace. This thriving economy makes USA one of the best places in the world.

The states with well-developed education system include Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Texas, Arizona, Michigan and Florida. Most of the international students prefer to study in these states.

Education in the United States is quite different from the system offered in our country. There is no federal or central education system in USA. Degree-granting institutions in the United States can be called as universities, colleges, schools or institutes. As a general rule, colleges tend to be smaller and usually offer only undergraduate degrees, while a university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. An institute usually specializes in degree programs in a group of closely related subject areas, so you will also come across degree programs offered at institutes of technology, institutes of fashion, institutes of art and design, and so on. Within each college or university one will find schools, such as the school of arts and sciences or the school of business. Each school is responsible for the degree programs offered by the college or university in that area of study.

The educational institutions in USA can be state funded of privately funded.

State universities are founded and subsidized by U.S. state governments (for example, California, Michigan, or Texas) to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. They may also be called public universities to distinguish them from private institutions. State universities tend to be very large, with enrollments of 20,000 or more students, and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities.

Private institutions are funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees, research grants, and gifts from their alumni. Tuition fees tend to be higher at private universities than at state universities, but there is no distinction made between state and non-state residents and the number of enrollments tends to be lower than those in state universities.

These universities and institutions collectively offer undergraduate, graduate and research programmes in addition to associate degrees, diplomas and certificate programmes.

The bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. The associate degree usually takes two years to complete. Associate degree programs may be “terminal” programs, which lead into specific careers upon graduation, or “transfer” programs, which correspond to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree and tend to be more liberal arts based. Associate degree programs are offered at two-year colleges known as junior or community colleges. Four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs, with a small number also offering associate degree programs

One of the most attractive features of the bachelor’s degree program in the United States is that it is highly flexible. You can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create your own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after you complete a specified number of credits, which are usually completed in four years of full-time study. The first year is called the freshman year; the second is called sophomore; the third, junior; and the fourth, senior.

International students, however, cannot study part-time and must maintain full-time status. Courses taken in the first two years are known as lower division courses, and courses taken in the final two years are called upper division courses.

Yuranus Education & Immigration organizes weekly presentations on education in USA. The presentation contains information about USA as a country, the education system and its salient features, application and admission procedure, visa documentation, financial requirements, earning and cost of living in USA and all other relevant details.

Attendance at the presentation should be followed by career counseling. The counselor can assist you in selecting a career option keeping in consideration of your aptitude, academic background and future plans. Once a decision regarding the course is made, the counselor can research the appropriate university that offers the programme. Particular state preferences, financial budget, ranking of the university and test scores are also taken into consideration while selecting a university for the students. All students are encouraged to apply to at least three universities from the list recommended by the counselor. It is then time to launch the application.

For a bachelors program a 10+2 year of basic education is required.
12+4 years of basic education is required to pursue a master’s degree in the USA.
12+4 years of basic education and relevant work ex is required for an MBA program.

There are two major intakes in most of the universities, schools and colleges of USA – Fall (Sept.) and Spring (Jan). Deadlines for fall intake start from January and for Spring from October. For an entire application procedure a student requires around 8-9 months of time.

Application Form

All students would have to fill up an application form mentioning all mandatory details that the University asks for. Application forms can either be downloaded. Applications can also be sent online.

Application Fee

Students are also required to pay application fees while submitting their application forms. The fee could vary from US$35-US$100 depending upon the University that one is applying to. This fee can either be paid online with a valid credit card or through a draft(in US dollars) of the same amount.

Admission can be secured in two ways:

1. On the Spot

The faculty from various departments of respected universities and institutions often conduct interviews at various locations in the student’s home country. The student can apply for admission during such on-the-spot interviews and save on application fees and time. The student is normally given a conditional letter of offer. The letter of offer assures admission to the stipulated programme at the university subject to successful compliance with the requirements stated in the letter. (For the schedule of forth coming events and on-the-spot interviews, click here)

2. By correspondence

The student can also apply for admission by sending the requisite documents (including the application fee) through post to respective department of the university he/she wishes to apply to. A student normally gets reply within a few weeks time.

The following documents are required for Admission.

1) Resume: It is required only for Masters Students and not for Bachelors. A resume enables the admissions committee to get an overall view of one’s educational background, work experience, hobbies and other extra curricular activities. This document is mandatory for all students applying to master degree programmes and management studies..

2) Statement of Purpose (SOP): While applying to a school in the USA a SOP is a critical part of the application packet. A well written Statement of Purpose can play a pivotal role in securing admission for a student.

3) Recommendation Letters: Normally each university requires three recommendation letters with each application. These recommendation letters should be written and signed by your former professors and teachers that have interacted with you during your academic time and have recommended you to the school in the USA.

4) Test Scores: Depending upon the course that a student opts for, one needs to take GRE/GMAT/SAT. The SAT score is used to make the admission decisions for undergraduate applicants. All U.S. business schools require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for admissions into a Management program. Some universities may waive the GMAT score if the student has extensive work experience. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is for students who wish to pursue Master’s program (except a management programme) in the U.S. All international students whose native language is not English need to provide a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score.

5) Transcripts: Transcript is a summary of the candidate’s academic performance. Both Transcripts and mark sheets are needed for admission and they must be certified by the school or the college one has studied in. If the student has obtained a degree, then a copy of the degree certificate must be enclosed also. Transcripts are generally given to the student from the institute he/she passed out from.

6) Financial Documents: The financial documents are an assurance to the university that in case, the school does not offer any financial aid the applicant would be in a position to support his/her education during the course of study. The financial documents required are the bank letter and the financial affidavit.

Most international students who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa, but there are other visa types that are sometimes authorized for those who study in the U.S.

F-1 or Student Visa – This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.

M-1 or Student Visa – This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training, such as associate or diploma courses, at any institution in the U.S. they are normally issued for short term program of study.

The High Commission must be given assurance on the following issues:

  • One is going for serious academics
  • Proficiency in English
  • Sufficient Finance
  • Intention of return

The following documents are required in order to apply for the visa:

  • 10th, 12th, Diploma, Bachelors, Masters & other academic Mark sheets:
  • TOEFL and SAT/GRE/GMAT score sheets: You need to submit the entrance scores for the purpose of visa.
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • I – 20[acceptance letter from the university]
  • Letters of other offers & rejections
  • Financial affidavit
  • Passport
  • Financial documents
  • Statement of Assets

SEVIS receipt. (SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is the system used by the US government to track all F and J visa holders.

After the Completed application forms along with the documents are submitted, in most cases, the visa will be issued within a few days of the submission of the application. In some instances, the process may take longer depending on the time of year, consular caseload or other factors.

Part-time work

An International student going to USA can work 20hrs a week on-campus during semester and full-time during holidays. Part time jobs on campus are easy to get with prior planning and you can earn around $650 a month. If you work full time during your holidays you can earn around $2000 a month.

Living Expenses

The approximate monthly living expenses are about $500, which includes accommodation as well as other daily expenses. However, the expenses are different for different people depending on the lifestyles and the location and this is just a rough idea. About $500 per month is a good estimation. Most people can survive with $400-$450 a month. The key here is to share apartments/houses so that you save on the utilities, fixed charge portion of phone and to some extent on groceries.

Accommodation

Moving into a dormitory setting is relatively simple: utilities such as electricity and telephone connections will most likely be ready to use. Arranging the details of off-campus accommodations is a bit more complicated. If your rent does not include utilities, you will need to request that the
companies turn on the electricity and telephone service when you arrive. The landlord can provide you with the appropriate contact information

Money Matters

As with any country, it is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash around with you. There are other options such as credit cards, travelers’ checks or bank cards (debit card) which are all valid forms with which to pay for things in the USA.

Traveler’s checks are one of the safest and easiest ways to transport money, because you may have them replaced if they get lost or stolen. If you choose to carry traveler’s checks with you from your home country to the States, be sure they are denominated in U.S. funds. Most businesses – except taxi drivers and public transportation personnel – will accept U.S.-denominated traveler’s checks during regular business hours, typically between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is wise to bring about $100 or more with you in U.S. cash, so you will be able to manage upon your arrival in the States.

Safety

Like most issues, safety in the United States is difficult to define because the United States covers such a large territory. In general, though, the U.S. is a safe place to live. It is still a good idea to educate yourself and take steps to reduce the potential for problems. By doing so, you will also feel more confident and comfortable.

Familiarize yourself with well-lit paths and sidewalks on campus. The school’s security office may offer an escort service, where designated people walk with you from one place to another on campus, particularly at night.

At “home” (an apartment, private residence or dormitory room), keep your doors locked, and your large windows closed. Get to know your neighbors, so you can “watch out” for each other.

American Culture

As you may know, one of the hallmarks of U.S. culture is independence.
In order to make friends, you must take the initiative to meet people. Because of the American value of independence, Americans will not always be looking out for you, or making sure that you are getting acquainted with other people. They assume you are taking care of yourself all right. If you don’t ask for help, Americans will assume you don’t need anything. So remember — ask for help when you need it!

In some cultures, it’s polite to refuse two or three times if someone offers something to you. But in the U.S., it is polite to answer “Yes, please” if you want what’s being offered. Many interesting situations have come up when a non-U.S. student who was hungry or thirsty refused the offer of food or drink, thinking this was polite behavior. But when no second or third offer was made, there was no chance to say yes.

Contrary to the stereotype of independence and individuality, most Americans are conformists and gain their identity by belonging to groups. You may notice that many students join groups in order to get acquainted but also in order to satisfy a need to belong. You may be surprised at how many students look alike on your campus, with similar hair styles and clothes.

Americans are sometimes difficult to figure out, so keep an open mind and get to know them as individuals. You’ll be glad you did!

One of your first introductions to social life on a U.S. campus will most likely be “The International Student Orientation Program,” traditionally coordinated by the Admissions Office or the Office of International Programs. Orientation varies greatly from school to school, though the objectives are similar: to introduce the new non-U.S. students to each other, and to prepare you for campus life. Many times, topics include immigration, academic advisors, computer and library resources, telephone services, public safety, medical services, banking options and department store shuttles so students can purchase items they need. During orientation, students often learn of upcoming activities such as trips to local points of attraction.

U.S. College and university campuses abound with activities designed to foster friendships. Many schools designate a “Student Activities Center” where you may learn of different options, such as student government, the newspaper staff, outdoors club, chorus, dance, and a number of athletic teams. Explore which ones may suit you best!

Why should I go to U.S.A.?

Of the 1.2 million students pursuing postsecondary education outside their home countries, more than one-third choose to study in the United States. U.S. universities pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology and educational techniques, and in making available to their students the best possible equipment and resources.

Is the degree from USA recognized worldwide?

The United States has one of the world’s finest university systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. . Even if your field does not directly involve science or engineering, you will become skilled in using the latest technology to obtain and process information. You will find ways to stay connected with people in your field all over the world. Experience in an international setting is a marketable commodity. Your long-term career prospects can be enhanced by an experience that develops self-confidence, independence, and cross-cultural skills – attributes that are in high demand with employers worldwide.

What is the difference between state, private and community college?

In many countries of the world a college is a secondary school and is very different than a university. In the United States, however, colleges and universities are quite similar. Often, both colleges and universities are referred to as “schools.” Generally, both colleges and universities in the United States are four-year institutions that offer a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree. This is commonly known as an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree. The main difference is that most universities also offer a higher level of study after you complete your bachelor’s degree – resulting in a master’s degree or doctorate.

A Community College is for American Nationals as a whole and International students applying to these universities cannot apply here. They offer 2 year diploma programs and after doing this program an American student can route to a full time college program.

Can an international student apply to a community college?

No, an international student cannot apply to a community college. Community colleges are exclusively meant for American citizens only.

Is U.S. education very expensive?

Education in the United States is costly, but the quality of education you get in the United States is secondary to none. No country in the world has such latest technology or such a techno-based education. Such classy and qualitative education in any other country, if available, would cost much more than in the U.S. Thus education in the U.S. on the whole is much cheaper than it would be in any other nation.

Do all the universities offer scholarships?

Most of the universities offer scholarships to international students. The basic criterion of availing a scholarship is your good test scores and fair academics. Scholarships generally start from $500 to full fee waiver. It depends upon the university to provide you with the same.

Is TOEFL mandatory for an international student?

Yes, TOEFL is mandatory for all international students, immigrants and in fact for everybody planning to go to the U.S. except on visitors or on business visas.

Can I work off-campus during my education in the U.S.?

No, an international student is not allowed to work off-campus under any circumstances, but is allowed to work 20hrs/per week “ON-CAMPUS” ONLY.

Can I show a direct or co-sponsorship from the U.S.?

No, showing a direct or co-sponsorship from the U.S. is a sure shot case of rejection as you fail to prove your intention of returning to your home country and it also shows weak personal finances.

Can I take an education loan to support my education in the U.S.?

Taking an education loan to support your education will again show weak personal finances and eventually reduce your chances of getting a visa. You may take an education loan but cannot show it in your finances. You have to show it in some other manner. At the times of visas its advisable not to show your loan papers directly.

What is the difference between MBA in Information Systems and Masters in Information systems?

The MBA is essentially a general business degree with a concentration in information systems. The Ms Program is comprised completely of information systems coursework. The coursework component provides the student with in-depth study in the discipline.