The journey to studying in the U.S. starts with learning about what you need to do as an international student to fulfill the requirements for applications. By knowing what schools expect from you and what you can anticipate from the experience will help make the entire process of applying to and attending university in the USA easier.

Why Study in the U.S.

You may see Americans studying abroad in your country and wonder why they don’t want to stay home for college. In the United States, experiencing other cultures and places is a valuable component of many students' educations. The same happens for those from other nations who want to get their degrees in the U.S.

Some of the benefits of becoming an international student in the U.S. include the eligibility to get a driver's license and a job. Both will help you integrate into American culture while you improve your language skills — if needed — and earn extra money. Depending on how much of your coursework you've finished, you could have the chance to work on-campus, off-campus or in a training program for your degree. These opportunities allow you to see American work culture in addition to the academic world.

Attending college in the U.S. teaches you many things beyond academics. In a USA Today article on international learners, a Bulgarian student cited learning how to adapt to a new culture and seeing the high-paced work environment as memorable experiences she had during her studies. The student, Vessela Velinova, also noted that her travels to and around the United States helped her to develop independence while she furthered her education. Her lessons inform other prospective students of the unique learning experiences getting a degree in the U.S. offers.

In addition to the chance to live in another country, you also have access to some of the world's best universities. For 2019, 11 out of the top 20 universities in the world are in the United States. The fact that the top four schools are all American universities speaks volumes to the caliber of post-secondary schools in the country. The added cache of having a degree from any of these highly regarded schools will help you in your job search after graduation.

Even if you don't attend one of these top universities, you will still benefit as you expand your education. During your time in the United States, you'll learn that the country has varied cultures in different regions. Depending on where you attend school, you may meet people from many other countries due to the diversity of the American people. This variety of people in the U.S. contributes to a similar assortment of thoughts expressed on college campuses.

Whether you have not started your post-secondary education or about to get your degree, consider what you will do after. Do you want to continue your learning with a graduate degree or get a job? American schools value the diversity of opinions, innovative ideas and research blossoms in the academic field. If you have an interest in graduate work or research, American schools have several opportunities. Internships and training programs through universities give you valuable experience you may need if you want a job after graduation instead.

With so many opportunities to learn academic ideas and engage in other cultures, you can see why so many international students choose to go to college in the United States. Before you can embrace your dream of American education, you need to know where to start.

Where to Start

If you know you want to get a degree in the United States, start by conducting some research. Even before you dive into the requirements checklist, you need to have a clear image of where you want to go and what degree you want. Follow these four steps.

1. Decide on Your Education Course

When applying to become an international student, you must indicate the type of education you want. The course you choose will dictate how long you can stay, your class requirements and much more. When it comes to how to study in the USA for international students, you have the options of a vocational school or an academic route.

If you apply as an M-1 student, you will take a vocational program with classes specific to the field you study. These job-oriented studies have stricter requirements for international students than academic programs. Once you choose your professional study path, you cannot change it, nor do you get an annual vacation as academic students do. The benefit of vocational schools is their shorter time to complete, and you will have job-ready skills upon program completion.

Most students interested in becoming international students want to get a college degree from a traditional four-year university or take a graduate-level course. The U.S. government classifies these students as F-1. Those under this classification get more benefits, such as an annual vacation, the ability to get a job in the U.S. and the chance to apply for a driver's license.

2. Choose a School and Apply

When selecting a school to attend in the U.S., it's important to note that not all colleges will admit international students. You can only apply to those schools with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, SEVP, certification. Here's how to apply for college in the USA for international students.

Research schools that have the degree program you want — not all schools offer the same levels of education. Some schools have better-funded research departments for specific majors, while others will provide lucrative internships through their study programs. Knowing what you want to study will help you narrow your search by focusing on schools with excellent programs for the degree or major you want.

Choosing a school does not lock you into that option for your entire degree, though. Once in the U.S., as an F-1 student, you can transfer to another certified school at any time. You must still apply for the transfer and have the school accept you, though. Additionally, you may start another program immediately after completing your first.

After you've selected a school, look into the admissions requirements. Knowing how to apply to college in the USA as an international student is critical to ensuring you have everything you need on the application form. Depending on the school, you may need to include an application fee, essay, letters of recommendation, a resume, transcripts or test scores.

Many American schools require standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT exam. If you do not natively speak English, you may need the TOEFL test, which ensures you know enough English to read, write and understand college-level coursework. Allow yourself enough time to take these tests before you plan to start your education. Then, send in your application. Only after you are accepted can you continue the process of transferring to the United States.

3. Find Financing

Going to post-secondary school in the United States will cost tens of thousands of dollars or more. While American students can qualify for government loans, international students cannot get such financial assistance.

To help you pay for your education, look for private scholarships, grants, and loans. You may find options in your country to help pay for your schooling. Other places to seek aid include the international student office of the school you will attend, as well as the U.S. government's Education USA website.

Some scholarships may require essays, work or test scores to qualify. Always read all instructions carefully before applying. There is no limit to the number of awards you can apply to. Paying for college is expensive, and these aid measures can help offset the high price of a degree.

4. Fill Out Paperwork

The next step is the least exciting. After you're accepted into a school, the university's designated school official (DSO) will send you an I-20 form. You need this form for every step of your journey to studying in the U.S. Keep it close, and verify all other forms against the information on your I-20. If anything on your paperwork does not match exactly, you could have a severe delay in getting into the U.S.

The I-20 will allow you to pay for your I-901 SEVIS fee, which you must cover before you can get a visa. Once you've paid the fee and gotten your receipt, visit the American embassy or consulate in your country to apply for an F-1 visa. The visa only allows you access to a port of entry, but you do not have a guarantee of getting into the United States. To avoid delays and problems, verify that all the information on your forms matches and is correct.

If you don't already have a passport, you will need to get one. Once you get to a port of entry, you must show your passport, visa and I-20 to the Customs and Border Patrol agent. After passing through customs, you will receive an I-94 that shows the date you entered the country and how long you can stay.

Finally, you've finished with the government paperwork of getting into the country, and now you must begin your studies. International students have requirements for both the course loads they take and the grades they make. If you want to stay in the U.S., you will need to fulfill all the international student requirements to study in the USA.

Requirements to Study in the USA for International Students

When it comes to maintaining your status as an international F-1 student, you must keep a full-time course load, which means taking at least 12 credit hours per term. While taking these classes, do everything you can to pass them. If you drop or fail classes, you may lose your status and have to return home.

If you have any changes in your academic standing, course load or grades, talk to your DSO. You may be able to work out ways to get help with your courses or extend your program.

Each year, you get an annual vacation, during which you don't have to take classes. Use this time wisely to relax, see the country and have fun experiences. You will return to your courses after the vacation. You have to take classes for a full academic year before you can qualify for this annual break.

What to Expect While Studying at American Schools

While studying in the U.S., you may notice some things that differ from your country. Don't be afraid to get out and embrace the novelties of American culture. Make friends and become active in campus activities. Most schools offer an international students office that will help you find things to do to meet people and expand your experience beyond academics.

Although your time in school will have many chances for social interaction, don't neglect your studies. You will sign up for at least 12 credit hours, and you will study for many more beyond that. A full course load is 12 hours, which means this equates to a standard 40-hour American work week. Plan to spend at least that much time attending classes, doing homework and studying.

If you plan to work while attending school, you should expect to learn to drive. While other countries have established mass transit systems such as subways and trains that connect most cities, the United States mainly relies on personal automobiles. In fact, because many universities are in small towns in remote areas, you may need a car to get to the nearest city. Luckily, you will find many places to take driving classes before you take the test for your driver's license.

When studying at an American school, you may be surprised at the sizes of some of them. Large universities can have tens of thousands of students while smaller colleges have far less. Large schools often have the benefit of many amenities and research facilities. Smaller colleges often have reduced class sizes and more personalized education offerings.

The good part about the United States educational diversity is the number of options you have available. If you don't like the size of your school or program after a semester, as an F-1 student, you can transfer to another SEVP-certified school without penalty.

Begin Your International Education Now

To get into a school in the United States as an international student, you need to work on your grades now. If you need help with your homework at any time of the day or night, contact us for assistance with your coursework or online tutoring.

If you need help with your classes, we're here for you. Trust our reliable, trustworthy tutors to help you learn the information you need for getting your homework done or understanding material. Our professional service gives you access to qualified tutors without the need to pay a subscription fee. Use our service as often or as rarely as you need to maximize your academic performance.

Whether you want help to pass your classes or wish to stand out from your peers with stellar grades, see what our tutors can do for you. If you get into a college in the United States, we'll be here to get you through your classes.

24HourAnswers Blog

Live Chats