Tackle These 3 Challenges Before Applying to Study in the U.S.

April 09, 2014
Tackle These 3 Challenges Before Applying to Study in the U.S.

Studying in the U.S. is a remarkable experience that has enriched my life and gone beyond what I could ever have hoped to achieve.

But making it to a U.S. college is a journey that has challenges. As with every journey, prospective international students must be prepared for what lies ahead.

Most people believe studying in the U.S. is a privilege because they are able to experience and learn from other cultures. However, many international students experience a lot of pressure being in this country. The life of an international student isn't always easy compared with the life of an American student.

My journey to the U.S. began when I was applying to colleges. The experience has taught me much, and there are a few obstacles international students must face in making the decision to study in the U.S.

1. Understanding the application process: The U.S. college application process can be unfamiliar to prospective students, as it may be very different from the process in their home country.

When applying to U.S. colleges, students first have to apply to multiple colleges to increase their chances of getting accepted. If you don’t, your chances for admission are slim. If you aren't admitted to any of the few colleges you applied to, you likely have to wait several months before the next semester begins.

I was so confident on my SAT scores that I applied to only two universities, but to my surprise I wasn’t accepted to either one. I had to wait to apply during the spring semester in the next year, whereas I could have probably been admitted on the first application during the fall of that year if I had applied to multiple universities. This is because universities each have different ways to view and assess applications.

Housing is also part of the application process, and as an international student, you may face the problem of not having a place to live after you leave the airport. I failed to complete a housing application on time and had to stay in a hotel until I found an appropriate place to live. It was a costly mistake.

2. Knowing what to research: Most prospective students know how to look into a college’s admissions statistics, location and cost, but may not know how to look deeper. I didn't think about the weather at first. When I chose Indiana University, it ended up being much too cold for me, so I transferred and moved to Texas. 

But I didn't think to look into what local transportation was available. Transportation ended up not being too flexible, especially in my first semester before I nurtured friendships and learned my way around the city.

3. Estimating costs: International students should check the cost of attending college. Some private universities are expensive compared with many public universities, especially for international students. 

While scholarships can help cut down on expenses like tuition, the cost of living can also be a shock for international students – especially for those who come from a country with a weak economy. Differences in the currency exchange rate mean that international students should be aware some essential needs might cost a lot in the U.S., and plan accordingly.

Once you get to the U.S., you'll face even more challenges. Different countries have different approaches to learning, so international students may be unfamiliar with new learning styles, or international students may face language or culture barriers. But all in all, the U.S. is a great country with a lot of opportunities – and fun to be in.

Tagged: International Students

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