"For the students looking for the best overseas education and planning to put their careers on the fast track, USA is the hottest destination". This is because it has immense range of specialties, high quality of education, great opportunities, which attracts students from different countries of the world. Students can choose a suitable university from over 4000+ universities and colleges available in USA that facilitates several educational programs. U.S provides a lot of offers for international students like, prestigious education in the world, assorted cities and towns, dazzling natural parks, different events and multicultural population.
The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic nation on North America continent consisting of fifty states and a federal district. After the fragmentation of American’s colonies with its mother country in 1776, USA was recognized as a new nation. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 states and it has expanded across the North America and other overseas possessions.
The history of USA has two distressing experiences, Civil War (1861-65) and great Depression (1930s). Upholding the victory of world wars I and II and the Cold War, US has remained the powerful nation of the world. There was steady growth in the US economy with low unemployment rate and inflation and has rapid advances in technology.
USA has the most powerful economy in the world both in terms of economy and technology with a per capita GDP of $46000 in 2007 and with 12% below poverty line. The growth in GDP is strengthening by extensive gains in labor productivity. Many companies in USA are ahead in technological advances, specifically in computers, aerospace, medical, and in military equipments.
Formerly, USA has fascinated several immigrants from all over the world and is still the nation that has highly populated them compared to other industrialized countries. All the gains in household income were constantly rising up by 20% of families. Together, all these reasons explain the fiscal status of the country, which shows good scope for the international students and build their careers.
As USA is a big country, its climatic condition varies from place to place. There will be temperate climate in most part of the country. Usually the southern and western half of the country will be warm than the other regions and extreme hot in summer. The eastern and northern half region will be extremely cold and heavy snowfall in winters and will be pleasant in summer. Places like Hawaii and Florida will have tropical climate, freezing in places around Alaska and semi-dry in Great Plains west regions of Mississippi River and dry in Great Basin of the southwest region. Prior to their transition, overseas students have to prepare themselves for the climatic conditions.
USA is the country with diverse cultures and is the home for extensive groups of ethics, customs and values. People in United States tend to the human values and socioeconomic triumph. The people and culture in United States are much different from Indians. The students who choose the universities will come across the regional culture and rich traditions and customs. The nation has a multi-racial society that merges new immigrants despite of the country from which they come from. The culture of USA reveals a trend to hybridize pop culture, thus it is called as high culture. The expansion of American culture was apparent in many aspects like, music, dance, movies, sports, architecture, literature, poetry, cuisine and visual arts, which are highly followed by all around the world.
Traditional American cuisine arts are much similar to several Western countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain. The main ingredients in American food include turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, slow-cooked pork and beef barbecue, crab cakes, potato chips, and cookies. You can also find many Indian restaurants in every city, where you can find unique cuisines from different regions of India. Food snacks such as, fried chicken, pizzas, hamburgers, hot dogs, apple pie are derived from the recipes of various immigrants. Many people even prefer to eat Italian pastas, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos. Usually Americans prefer coffee to tea and milk is the chronic breakfast drink. With the evolution of beverage industries, orange juice and sweetened soft drinks are highly consumed.
In the United States, multiculturalism is the fundamental obsession expressing that people from different culture, ethics and races are equal and they can keep their identities, can take pride in their heritage and have a sense of belonging. It gives a sense of safety and confidence for immigrants, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures. Multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding, and discourages ghettoization, hatred, discrimination and violence. Multiculturalism enables United States to identify the prospective of all Americans. It cheers people from other countries to incorporate into their society and participate in its social, cultural, economic and political interactions
There is good job market for new graduates in United States. As per the reviews of National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), many companies in United States are competing to hire new graduates. As a result there are increased opportunities for graduates from abroad. According to the survey, around 60% of companies are planning to recruit more graduates in 2007 than they recruited in the year 2006.According to Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2007, the unemployment rate in United States was decreased to 4.5%. The report stated that the highest unemployment rate was for Michigan with 7.2% followed by Ohio with 6.1% and Mississippi with 6%, Idaho at 2.5% and Utah at 2.6%. The lowest unemployment rate was for the states of Hawaii and Montana at 2.4% each. These facts states that there is good opportunities for the international students in USA and for their careers on good path.
There is a large tourism industry in U.S that provides millions of international and domestic tourists. The country is the homeland for natural wonders, historical landmarks, cities, and gambling spots. People in US seek for comparable attractions in addition to the amusement and vacation areas. Many universities facilitate educational tours for their students.
• Full name: United States of America
• Population: 320.29 million (UN, 2014)
• Capital: Washington DC
• Largest city: New York City
• Area: 9.8 million sq km (3.8 million sq miles)
• Major language: English
• Major religion: Christianity
• Air Ticketing & Pre Departure Assistance
• Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
• Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 cents
• Main exports: Computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, chemical products, food and live animals, military equipment and aircraft
• GNI per capita: US $43,740 (World Bank, 2006)
• Internet domain: .us
• International dialing code: +1
EDUCATION SYSTEM in USA
Why to Study in USA?A US education is rich in experiences, both academic as well as personal. US universities are some of the best multidisciplinary institutes in the world and foster growth of an individual at several stages throughout the course of study. The infrastructure available to students includes high endesearch la rbs, well equipped libraries, student lounges, study areas as well as recreational facilities, which all add to the campus experience.
What sets US universities apart is their focus on research. The entire learning experience is boosted when taught by top researchers in the field of study. Universities also receive corporate and public grants to advance research in areas of demand and this ensures continuance of the most cutting edge innovations on campus.These are just some nuances of a US education, the overall exposure and experience is unmatched. See it to believe it!
Education in USA
Public InstitutionsPublic Institutions are funded by states and territories (city or county) and usually offer lower tuitions as compared to Private Institutions. Each state in the US has at least one Public Institution. Tuition for in-state students (students who have residential status in the state) is significantly lower than that for out-of-state students. Departments within a Public Institution may receive private funding to further their research or academic interests. There are also several scholarships that are funded through private endowments.
Private InstitutionPrivate Institutions are primarily funded through private sources and are usually more expensive tuition wise than Public Institutions. Some Private Institutions may have a religious affiliation. It is not uncommon that certain research projects or departments within a Private Institution get funding from state or national governments. The likelihood of financial support at Private Institutions is generally higher than at Public Institutions.
Community CollegeCommunity colleges are generally 2-year publicly funded institutions that offer academic, vocational and/or professional education. Qualifications granted are usually Diplomas, Certificates or Associate Degrees. The programs may also be termed as Continuing Education programs. Cost of education at a Community College is usually lower than that at a 4-year institution. Several Community Colleges have tie-ups with the local Public Institution, such that the Community College provides the first two years of undergraduate level education followed by the 4-year institution providing the next two.
Associate Degree:An Associate Degree is a highly practical oriented, 2-year program offered in Community Colleges and at some universities. These include Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degrees and students may enroll on completion of 12th grade. On obtaining an Associate Degree, a student may transfer to a 4-year undergraduate program at the 3rd year level or lower depending on the college and courses taken. Some community colleges also have automatic enrollment agreements with a local 4-year university and these programs are often called 2+2 programs.
Undergraduate Degree:An Undergraduate or a Bachelors Degree is a 4-year program for which, students generally enroll on completion of 12th grade. The undergraduate program is divided into two divisions, the lower division and the upper division, each lasting two years. General education classes and basic classes in the Major are taken in the lower division and more specialized classes in the Major are taken in the upper division. A student is required to pick a Major by the end of the second year at the latest. The list of majors available for a student to choose from is extremely vast. The program is highly flexible in terms of the courses one can opt for. The university specifies the total number of Units or Credit hours a student must complete as well as the number pertaining to the selected Major and Minor, in order to graduate.
Professional degrees such as law, medicine and dentistry are usually not offered at the undergraduate level. A student with any undergraduate Major may apply as long as the pre-requisite courses for the degree have been completed. Starting early in one’s career, US universities give undergraduate students the flexibility to gear the program to match their goals. In addition, the experience of being part of a multitude of extracurricular opportunities on campus is unmatched.
Graduate Degree:A Graduate Degree tends to be a 2-year program depending on the university and field of study. Students generally enroll after completion of a 4-year undergraduate degree. Common graduate degrees are Master of Science (MS), Master of Engineering (MEng) or Master of Business Administration (MBA). In general, MS degrees require a student to write a thesis while MEng degree may require project work but no thesis. These requirements however, may vary based on the program of choice. Other graduate level programs at US universities include Law, Master in Public Health (MPH), Master in Health Administration (MHA), Master in Education (MEd), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master in Exercise Science (MES), Master in Kinesiology (MK) among others. Graduate students are required to complete a certain number of units or credit hours highly focused on the selected major, in order to graduate. A large number of courses include project work for a hands-on learning experience.
Professors teaching graduate level courses are usually pioneering researches in their field of study. Students may have opportunities to work, either part time or full time, on cutting edge technology at a research lab on campus. Teaching assistantships may also be offered, usually after the first year of coursework, based on the student’s grasp of the subject and perceived ability to teach.
PHD:Students may enroll in the Doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy program in their area of interest. PhD programs are available only in select universities based on the field of study. Students may enroll after a graduate degree or for some majors, even immediately after an undergraduate degree. Unlike in most other countries, a PhD from a US university requires the student to complete required coursework in addition to research work. In the path to obtaining a PhD, a student must pass qualifying exams which may be focused on the general research area or concentrated on the student’s research topic.
Students may enroll in the Doctorate or Doctor of Philosophy program in their area of interest. PhD programs are available only in select universities based on the field of study. Students may enroll after a graduate degree or for some majors, even immediately after an undergraduate degree. Unlike in most other countries, a PhD from a US university requires the student to complete required coursework in addition to research work. In the path to obtaining a PhD, a student must pass qualifying exams which may be focused on the general research area or concentrated on the student’s research topic.
PhD programs tend to be funded, however a student must ensure top research and academic performance in order for funding to continue till the degree is obtained.
WORK DURING STUDIES & AFTER STUDIES:
On-Campus:During the normal course of the semester, a student is allowed to work for 20 hrs a week within the university. This job may not necessarily be related to the student’s program of study and can include part time work in research labs, administrative roles, library positions and grading jobs among others.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):A student is allowed to work outside the university during semester breaks for a total number of 364 days, if required as part of the program curriculum. Employment on CPT must be related to the student’s program of study and may not commence prior to completion of 9 months of full-time study.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):Upon completion of their education, international students are allowed to work outside the university, in a position related to the area of study on obtaining the Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization. For students graduating from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs, 29 months of OPT work is permitted if the employer is enrolled in the E-Verify program operated by USCIS. Programs that qualify as STEM are listed below, however, it is important that you check for updates as this list keeps changing.
STEM Programs:• Computer Science Applications
• Mathematics and Statistics
• Biological and Biomedical Sciences
• Actuarial Science
• Military Technologies
• Engineering Technologies
• Science Technologies
• Physical Sciences
• Medical Scientist
For all other programs, the duration of OPT work is limited to 12 months.
FEES & COST :Tuition fees or tuition is the largest component of the cost of a US education. The amount is highly dependent on the university and also the degree a student is enrolled for. As a general rule, tuition at Private Institutions is higher than at Public Institutions. Tuition at Community Colleges is usually the lowest, primarily because they do not have high research expenses as compared to 4-year institutions. There may always be exceptions to this rule.Also, students with residential status in a state qualify for in-state tuition at the Public Institutions in the state. This is significantly lower than the out-of-state tuition charged to non-residents and international students. A student who gets offered a scholarship (even a partial scholarship) may also be eligible for in-state tuition.
Living Expenses:Living expenses include all the other expenses a student will incur while pursuing a US education, such as rent, food, books and other personal expenses. These expenses, specially rent, are extremely location sensitive. The university usually provides an estimate for living expenses in the I-20 sent along with the admission package. However, costs can be much lower too.
Health Insurance :Healthcare in the US can become a major expense in the case of sickness or medical emergency and it is highly advisable that students purchase medical insurance to cover for the possible burden. Several health insurance plans are available in the US for international students and premiums vary based on the plan selected. A few things to consider while selecting insurance include the coverage, both in terms of the ailments covered and the amount covered for, the deductible and the geographical coverage area, among others. The international students’ center at a university will usually be able to help guide foreign students on obtaining medical coverage. Several universities also allow students to carry overseas insurance.
Student Loans in IndiaSeveral Indian banks and financial institutions offer loans to Indian students going abroad for higher education. The amount may be used for paying tuition or expenses or a combination of both. Approval of loan applications is contingent on a review of financial documents, provision of collateral on the loan and sometimes also dependent on the University of attendance. These requirements are extremely specific to the company providing the loans.
Student Loans in USSeveral banks as well as financial institutions provide loans to international students to fund their education. However, they may need a US citizen or permanent resident of good financial standing to be a co-signer or guarantor on the loan. The student will need to submit documents which may include the admission letter, I-20, proof of identity and documents from the cosigner. The loan amount approved is usually capped by the total expenses listed in the I-20 and may be paid directly to the university, depending on the policies of the loan provider.
ScholarshipsScholarships pay towards a student’s tuition and are offered either for the entire course of the program or on a semester by semester basis. Scholarships are generally offered based on past academic records, the student’s educational goals and the university’s goals. Partial scholarships are also possible. Scholarships pay towards the student’s tuition and may also make the student eligible for in-state tuition for the remaining amount.
Financial SupportResearch Assistantships may be offered to students who wish to conduct research in specific areas that the university excels in. Selection is made based on past academic and professional record as well as future research goals. Research Assistantships usually qualify a student for tuition waivers and/or pay an additional stipend. Students who get offered Research Assistantships are most often PhD students, but it is not uncommon for Graduate students to be offered the same.
Teaching Assistantships are offered to students with the potential to teach, based on academic performance for the related course. Teaching assistants help the professor conduct lectures and labs, grade exams and homework and answer student queries. Teaching Assistantships may qualify for full or partial tuition waivers and/or an additional stipend.
Graduate Assistantships are mostly administrative positions at the University. Graduate Assistantships may be in the form of tuition waivers, stipends or a combination of both.
Standardized Tests :One or more standardized tests may be required by a university depending on the degree an applicant seeks to obtain and sometimes also the program of study. Some institutions or programs may have minimum score requirements for the application to be considered. Tests required may include one or more of: SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT or other specialized tests for professional studies. These evaluate students on English, quantitative problems, logic and analytical skills. Most tests are computer based, however, paper based tests may also be offered in special cases.
Registration Process:Registration is available online on the official test website, along with available dates and time slots at all test locations around the world. Process includes picking a convenient test location and time slot and paying the application fee. Most computer based tests are conducted all year round, however some tests may be conducted only on specific dates listed on their official websites.
Study Material:Study material for each of the tests may be available on the official website. In addition, there are several organizations that offer test prep material like books or sample tests. Some of the global names include Kaplan, Peterson’s, Barron’s, Princeton Review and others.
Official Score Reports:As part of the application package, most universities accept only the official score reports sent directly by the organization conducting the test. The test taking organization may forward official score reports to several universities free of cost, if a list is provided within a specified time frame of the test. If a student requires sending scores to other universities at a later date, a request will need to be made with the test conductor at an additional cost.
SAT-I & II :The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is required of students applying for Undergraduate or Bachelor degrees at most universities and those applying for undergraduate scholarships. It tests the student on critical reading, math and writing. The test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long and is multiple choice. The student is also required to write a 25-minute essay.
Subject SATs test the student on specific subjects and may be required for admission to certain programs. A student may take multiple tests from the 20 subject tests conducted by Collegeboard.com. .Official Web Site: www.collegeboard.com
ACT :The ACT is another widely accepted test for Undergraduate or Bachelor programs in the US. It is a multiple choice test that evaluates students on English, mathematics, reading and science. There is also an optional writing section. The test is about 3 hours long with a 30 minute optional writing test. The official test website is www.actstudent.org
TOEFL:TOEFL (the Test Of English as a Foreign Language) is required by a large number of US universities for students who are non-native English speakers. The TOEFL measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. The computer based test is about 4 and a half hours long.
Official test website is www.ets.org/toefl
IELTS:IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) is also a test of English and is widely accepted by US universities as an alternative to TOEFL. Like the TOEFL, the IELTS also measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. It is a computer based test, however the speaking section is a face to face interview with a certified examiner. The reading, writing and listening modules are two and a half hours long. The speaking module may be offered on the same day or up to a week before or after the other modules. Test results are provided 13 days after the test.
The official test website is www.ielts.org
GRE:The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is required by most graduate programs in US universities. It is a test of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The computer based test is 3 hours long and is a combination of writing as well as multiple choice questions. Subject GREs test the student extensively on specific subjects and may be required for admission for certain majors. These may also be required while applying for scholarships or financial support. Subject GREs are paper based and conducted three times a year, in April, October and November.
The official test website is www.ets.org/gre
GMAT:The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required of students applying for graduate business or MBA programs in most US universities. The test is conducted by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council). The GMAT is a test of Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing skills and is a 3 and a half hour long, computer based test. The test has a combination of multiple choice and writing sections. Official score reports are available three weeks after the test.
The official test website is www.mba.com
Standardized Tests :In the US, there are more than 4,000 postsecondary institutions for students to choose from. The selection would have to be made based on the academic quality of the institute and on finding the right match with the student’s area of interest. Especially for graduate and PhD students, professors and the university’s track record in the area of interest play a decisive role in the selection process.
Another important factor of consideration is the student’s budget. Higher education in the US is an investment and wise selection of the university or program can help reduce the financial burden without a quality compromise.
Academic Records or Transcript Evaluation:An application package generally contains the student’s past academic records, which includes official transcripts and mark sheets for each degree obtained. Undergraduate applicants may also be required to provide high school transcripts. Transcripts that are not in English require an accompanying English translation.
Several universities may also require credential evaluation through organizations such as WES (World Education Services), ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators) or others, which may be conducted at an additional fee to the student. This is to help US universities accurately translate and assess the student’s performance in the different grading systems employed by foreign institutions.
SOP’ & Essays:The statement of purpose also sometimes called the personal statement or statement of personal intent, is required with most application packages and is a short note on the applicant’s background, aspirations and career goals. This is a highly personalized essay which helps differentiate the applicant from the general pool. The university is most interested in finding students whose areas of interests match the university’s goals and the statement of purpose is highly influential in the admission process. Certain programs, especially MBA and undergraduate programs, may require submission of essays written on topics provided. The topics would aim to reveal a personal trait or experience that the student may have had during his past academic or professional life or during social interactions with the community.
Financial Supporting:As part of the application package, an applicant is usually required to submit documents of financial standing. These would include proof of funding that shows the availability of sufficient funds to cover the expected expenses of the program. Each university will usually have an estimate of annual expenses to help determine the amount of funds required for the entire course of study.
Application Forms & Fees:Most universities have online application forms but some do have downloadable or paper versions as well. An applicant’s account is created online during the start of the application process and the forms can be filled in multiple sittings. An application would be complete on completion of all required forms and payment of the application fee, which can be made online or sent as a demand draft along with the physical application package. Application fees may be different for online & paper applications, when both methods of submission are available to the student. Applicants must be aware of deadlines for submission of application forms and these vary by institutions and sometimes also by individual programs.