Choosing the Best U.S. University for You
With more than 5300 U.S. universities and colleges, deciding which U.S. universities to apply to, is far from easy. The internet has a lot of information, but even if you have a possible list of fifty U.S. universities, you still need to bring that number down to eight or ten that are the best suited for you.
It’s always good to seek advice from people you know who have studied in the U.S. Keep in mind, however, that what may have worked for them, may not be right for you. It is sometimes better to consult with an expert from the U.S. experience with real experience helping international students choose universities that will fit you.
Here are five things you must evaluate as you finalize your target U.S. universities.
What subject do you want to want to specialize in?
Most U.S. colleges and universities allow students to study an array of subjects in the first two years. However, you must generally choose your main field of study by the third year. Before you apply to a U.S. university, check that majors offered are in line with your professional goals. Also, assess the university’s reputation. For example, if a U.S. university is famous for engineering, is it the best place to study for a business degree? If you have a good idea of what you want to study, research which universities are leaders in that field. You may be surprised to find that the top ranked universities in your chosen field are not necessarily the most famous universities in the U.S.
How does your overall candidature stack up against the U.S. university’s admission criteria?
When developing your U.S. university application strategy, it’s good to aim high, but it’s equally important to be realistic. Most U.S. colleges and universities base their admissions decision on academic performance, test scores, extracurricular activities, as well as demonstrable qualities such as leadership, teamwork, and innovativeness. Most universities publish profiles of students who have been admitted. Rather than targeting most of the famous U.S. universities, it’s advisable to critically evaluate how your overall qualifications measure up against their admission profiles. If your accomplishments are significantly below the profile, you might want to consider applying to other universities where you can be more competitive.
Where would you like to stay and work?
If you are planning to work part-time along with the college degree, or if you intend to find permanent employment in the U.S. after graduation, then the location of the U.S. university can be an important criterion during the application process. Incidentally, many universities in the U.S are located in small cities and towns. Apart from the professional opportunities the U.S. university’s location offers, also consider the climate of the place. For instance, would you be comfortable in New England, which has world-class universities but a cold climate?
Are you open to the idea of studying at a smaller U.S. University?
Most international students aspire to study at renowned universities. While larger universities tend to have better infrastructure and budgets for research, making the educational and cultural transition in a new country tends to be easier at a smaller college. Smaller universities generally have a higher student-faculty ratio, which means you will receive more personal attention from the faculty and teaching staff. Also keep in mind that many smaller universities have excellent programs in specific fields that often are ranked higher than similar programs from “famous” universities.
Is the U.S. University accredited?
In the U.S., there is no national government authority that is responsible for accrediting colleges and universities for the quality of education provided. Instead, U.S. colleges and universities have formed associations, or accrediting bodies, that set the standards themselves.
At a minimum, you must ensure that your target U.S. colleges and universities are accredited by agencies listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions as reliable authorities concerning the quality of education.
Given the various factors you need to evaluate as an international student, working with an experienced educational advisor can improve your chances of successfully applying for admission to a U.S. university of your choice.
The Eagle Pathways team includes experienced former university admissions advisors and counselors with first-hand knowledge of the admission procedures at different U.S. universities, the qualities that U.S. Universities look for in international students and the challenges international students face in coming to the U.S.. We can help you develop an individualized university strategy, including selecting schools that match your interests and your profile so that you have the best possible chance of being admitted.
Contact us for more information on developing your U.S. university application strategy.