Study in the US: Guide for International Students

Academic College EssayEdge International student

EssayEdge has already helped more than 10K students from China, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, and other countries enter the top American colleges and universities. Here is the complete guide on how to enter the educational institution of your dream. Throughout the article, we will discuss such questions as “Why study in the USA?” “What is the application process?” “What is the timeline for the application process?” and many others. 

Why do international students choose colleges and universities in the US?

 America is well-known for being a pioneer in the quality of education; no wonder that many students want to study there. International students enjoy many benefits when they choose to study in the United States. There are many prestigious colleges and universities in the country, which offer high-quality education. Whether you decide to study at a small college or a large university, you get access to many rich cultural experiences. Even after graduation from the US university, international students have a chance to grow in the country, as there are some of the largest companies and businesses in the world.  

The application process is a task that takes a lot of time and concentration, as each educational institution is different and the process involves collecting recommendations, writing essays, and delivering the results of required standard examinations. If you want to succeed, don’t hesitate to give this challenge the time it deserves. Now, let’s discuss the application process step by step. 

What is the education system in the US?

The American education system consists of Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Higher Education. If you are reading this article, you are most likely interested in higher education, so let’s focus on this stage. The higher education consists of four levels, which are Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees.

  • It takes two years to get an Associate degree, and such degrees are mostly job oriented. The associate degree can also be considered as the first half of a bachelor’s degree. The students opting for these courses are going to look for jobs straight away after completion. 
  • In contrast to associate degrees, a Bachelor’s degree is believed to be more academic. To get the Bachelor’s diploma, you have to study three to four years, being called a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and, finally, Senior. 
  • If you want to get a Master’s degree, it means that you need to focus on a detailed study of one particular academic field. An academic Masters in the US is a perfect foundation for Ph.D. and Doctoral Programs. 
  • A Doctoral degree can run for 5 to 8 years. Mostly it means that you will have to conduct the research under the supervision of your faculty.

Tips: Be aware of the fact that a master’s degree is not mandatory while applying to a Ph.D. program in many fields in the US. If you are going to apply to a Ph.D. program, check the requirements listed by the particular university. 

Most American colleges and universities have two semesters per year; each semester is 16 weeks long. The school year usually begins in late August or early September and ends in December. Then, students have a few weeks off for a break, moving to their spring semester. The latter lasts from early January to the end of April or early May. 

Some schools, mostly smaller colleges, have a quarter system where you can take up to four semesters per year. Each semester there lasts 10 to 12 weeks, so usually, students only take three quarters per year and then have a break for one quarter.

What is the admission process in the US?

There are two main intakes of students in the US, the one is in the fall, and the other one takes place in spring. 

  • The fall intake starts in August, and it offers the biggest number of courses available. That’s why this intake is the most popular among both American and international students. 
  • The spring intake starts in January, and the students who might have missed the fall intake try to fit into this one. However, not all the courses are available then. Sometimes colleges and universities have a summer intake as well, but it has a very limited number of courses.

So when should you apply? In the US, there is no central admission authority, so each school sets its own deadlines. Most top universities usually have their application deadline in November or December for the fall semester, and in March or April for the spring semester. Other universities often establish the deadlines in March or April for the fall and July or August for the spring semester. 

If you want to enter the Community College, for example, you may be allowed to send your application until June or July for the fall and October or November for the spring semester. Anyway, you have to double-check the requirements at your aspired university’s website. 

Tips: Being an international student, you have to keep in mind that you’ll need a couple of months to apply, get a visa, etc., so don’t apply too late!

Go to the institution’s website and check the admission requirements, as well as the documents you will need to fill in and prepare for the application. You will be asked to prove that you have enough financial support for your studies and that your English level is relevant. American universities prefer the TOEFL results, but most of them also accept the IELTS.

What are the admission requirements in US colleges and universities?

Most US colleges and universities set their own admission requirements, including additional tests and interviews. The application process will change for different universities; however, most of them accept online applications. Such documents as the scanned copy of your passport, academic transcripts, essays, etc. must be uploaded to the website of the particular university. 

  • The graduate courses will require GRE scores (a test of verbal and quantitative reasoning and analytical writing).
  • Management courses (like MBA) will require GMAT scores (a test that measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills). 
  • The undergraduate courses will require SAT (a test taken by high school juniors and seniors to check their levels of reading, writing and mathematics), LSAT (a test for Law courses), and MCAT (a test for Medical Courses). 

Another essential requirement is English Language Proficiency Test scores such as IELTS and TOEFL. All these scores must be reported officially through the conducting bodies.

Tips: An original transcript of your marks will be required for each institution you apply for, so start collecting these materials in advance to meet the application deadlines.

Apart from academic transcripts and test scores, you will also be asked to submit admission essays, statements of purpose (SoP), and recommendation letters (LoR). If you need more tips on how to write these papers, check our articles:

Statement of Purpose Format: Tips for Applicants

How to Craft a Meaningful Leadership Essay

College Application Essay Tips: Expert Advice For Getting Started (Video)

How to Choose Recommenders for Your College Letters of Recommendation

Tips for Writing a Strong Law School Essay Introduction

The application process can be quite overwhelming when you are an international student. Each university in the US has special standards when it comes to the admission process. Before choosing two or three universities, make sure that you meet all the requirements. Also, all applications must be prepared separately and adjusted to the rules of each college or university you are interested in. Remember that you are competing with other students for limited places in those institutions. 

If you need any help with application to American colleges and universities, you can hire one of our specialists. EssayEdge offers a range of services related to the admission process, such as editing of your admission essay or statement of purpose, for example. 

Only a few percent of foreign applicants are ready to leave their comfort zone, but the desire to succeed in life helps them move forward. If you belong to people who need a kind of friend or study buddy to face this new experience, hire a professional essay editor here. It’s not a real friend, but the recommendations they can give will be valuable enough.

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