The United States of America (also called the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west, across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.
At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million Sq. km) and with over 312 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area and the third largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The U.S. economy is the world’s largest national economy, with an estimated 2011 GDP of $15.1 trillion (22% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity).
Why Study in USA
The United States is the number one destination for international students seeking higher education abroad. In fact, about 30 percent of all current international students in the world are studying in the United States.
What makes a U.S. education so popular?
The U.S. higher education system has an international reputation for quality:
Distinguished programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in almost every field of study.
Many universities attract world-renowned faculty and are at the forefront of research and technological development.
State-of-the-art facilities include libraries, laboratories, computers, and other resources.
Diversity of institutions and programs
The range of educational opportunities available in the United States is immense. No matter what kind of learning environment students seek, they will find ample choices from among the 3,600 diverse higher education institutions in the country.
Students will want to consider:
Size: Institutions range from less than one thousand to more than fifty thousand students.
Student body: Most universities are coeducational, but there are sixteen for men only and fifty-six for women only.
Selectivity: University admission policies range from highly selective to open admission.
Setting: Campuses are located in small and large cities, suburban areas, and rural communities as well as in a variety of climates.
Field of study: With hundreds of major fields of study to select from, your students are likely to find a program that suits their personal interests.
Type of institution: Choices include liberal arts colleges that emphasize broad preparation in academic disciplines, and schools that provide professional, career-related training. Some offer technical programs that develop vocational skills, and a growing number of colleges offer options in distance learning.
Our College Search tool is a great resource for international counselors and students. Have your students use it to find the perfect college or to narrow their search.
One of the hallmarks of U.S. education is flexibility. Education professionals tend to value creativity, individualism, and inclusiveness.
At the undergraduate level, universities emphasize a broad, well-rounded education. Students are offered a wide range of classes—in math, science, the arts, social science, and languages—before finally having to decide on a specialization.
Even at the graduate level, courses might be offered in related fields. Students are actively involved in designing their course schedules because so many options are available.
It is even possible to combine academic classes with work experience that will be recognized as part of the degree program. Most institutions have qualified staff on hand to help students make the best course decisions to attain their academic goals.
In the classroom, students are encouraged to be active participants in the learning process. Faculties welcome, and generally expect, student input and encourage students to develop and express their own ideas and questions.
A successful college experience involves more than academic work. Students will find a wide range of activities outside the classroom to match their interests, such as internships, clubs, and social, cultural, and sports activities. These opportunities give students a chance to make friends while they develop team and leadership skills that they will utilize in future careers.
Education System in USA
For someone from another country, the U.S. educational system understandably appears large and varied, even chaotic. Within this complexity, however, American education reflects the history, culture, and values of the changing country itself. From a broad perspective, the American educational system can be characterized by its large size, organizational structure, marked decentralization, and increasing diversity.
Schools in the United States — public and private, elementary and secondary, state universities and private colleges — can be found everywhere, and the United States continues to operate one of the largest universal education systems in the world. More than 75 million children and adults were enrolled in U.S. schools and colleges in the 2005-2006 academic years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Another 6.8 million were employed as teachers, teaching kindergarten through college. In addition, more than a million preschool children from low-income families, usually ages three and four, attend Head Start programs designed to provide learning, social development, and nutrition programs to ensure that these preschoolers will be ready for school at age five or six. Public school enrollments grew exponentially during the post-World War II “baby boom” generation (usually defined as those born from 1946 to 1964). After a drop-off in the 1980s, enrollments have rebounded strongly, largely as a result of growing Hispanic populations, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau reports. The U.S. educational system today comprises almost 96,000 public elementary and secondary schools, plus more than 4,200 institutions of higher learning, ranging from small, two-year community colleges to massive state universities with undergraduate and graduate programs in excess of 30,000 students. The nation’s total expenditures for education stand at approximately $878 billion a year.
A greater proportion of young people receive higher education in the United States than in any other country. These students also can choose from more than 4,000 very different institutions. They can attend two-year community colleges or more specialized technical training institutes. Traditional four-year institutions range from small liberal arts colleges to massive state universities in places like California, Arizona, Ohio, and New York, each with multiple campuses and student populations exceeding 30,000. Approximately one third of U.S. colleges and universities are private and generally charge tuition costs substantially higher than state-run public institutions
International students must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before applying to US colleges and universities. This four-hour test allows admissions committees to evaluate the student’s ability to use and understand Standard America English at a college level. The TOEFL ® is administered worldwide and is available in both an internet-based and paper-based format with four sections: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking. Most colleges and universities only consider the most recent score, and the TOEFL ® score is valid for two years. As an international student you need a good TOEFL ® score for entry into universities and colleges in the USA.
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), is a computer-adaptive standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into graduate business administration programs (e.g. MBA, Master of Accountancy, etc.) throughout the world. It is delivered via computer at various locations around the world. In those international locations where an extensive network of computers has not yet been established, the GMAT is offered either at temporary computer-based testing centers on a limited schedule or as a paper-based test (given once or twice a year) at local testing centers.
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States, in other English-speaking countries and for English-taught graduate and business programs world-wide. Created and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) in 1949, the exam aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based, computer adaptive exam administered by selected qualified testing centers; however, paper-based exams are offered in areas of the world where computer-based testing is not available.
In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and between departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being a mere admission formality to an important selection factor.
Work after study
An F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. F-1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. They can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program. In addition, an F1 student can remain for 12 months after securing a degree to work under the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program. F1 students are expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on their I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) which is provided by the US College or university that the student has been accepted to and will attend.
In order to qualify, applicants need to satisfy several strict criteria:
1. Must have a foreign residence and must intend to return there upon completion of studies;
2. Can only study at the academic institution through which the visa was granted;
3. Must have sufficient financial support;
4. Must have strong ties to home country (e.g. job offer letter upon completion of studies, assets, bank accounts, and family).
5. It may be possible to convert this visa to a temporary work visa upon completion of applicant’s studies. Spouses and minor children obtain F-2 visa status and are not authorized to work in the U.S.
An F-1 student is generally entitled up to one year of post-completion practical training. Authorization for this type of practical training may be granted for a maximum of 12 months and only starts once you have graduated or completed your course of study.
Speak to the international students department of your university to get the necessary forms to apply. They will inform you of the different practical training options available to you. Find out about your practical training options when you start to study so you can adequately prepare for the future.
Applying for an F1 Visa
Different universities have different admission policies. Your university will inform you what they need from you in order to determine that you are academically eligible. Amongst other requirements, you will need to show the school that you have enough money to support yourself while studying without having to work and you may have to show health insurance in order to cover any medical expenses should you need any medical assistance. Always protect yourself by keeping a copy of everything that you fill out and send off.
Once the university has determined that your application is complete and you are academically eligible, they will issue an I-20 form to enable you to apply for your student visa.
Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. This will normally be your home country, the country in which you live. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.
You will need the following when applying at the consulate for your student visa:
1. You will have to pay a non-refundable application fee. This means that if your visa does not get approved, you will not get your money back.
2. An application Form DS-156, completed and signed. These forms are free at all U.S. consular offices.
3. A DS-157 form for all males aged 16-45.
4. A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.
5. One photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square (37x37mm) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background
6. For the “F” applicant, a Form I-20A-B. For the “M” applicant, a Form I-20M-N. This form shows that you have been admitted into a US college, university or other institution.
7. You will need to show that you have enough money to support yourself.