United States

The Ultimate Guide

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General

The United States arguably have the best system of higher education in the world. It is a common misconception for international students to think that the U.S. are all about the Ivy League, Stanford, Duke, MIT and a few other universities. Across most of the leading global university rankings, almost half of the top 100 and half of the top 10 universities are located in the United States, and they are there for a reason. Universities such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, UNC Chapel Hill, Boston University, New York University, Brandeis, Vanderbilt,  University of Michigan belong among the world's best and they are known for their academic excellence, exceptional teaching, cutting edge research and technology. The U.S. is the main destination for international students and it has been able to maintain this position for decades. It also gave it the opportunity to develop the best system to support and integrate students from all over the globe. The United States offer an enormous range of disciplines at all academic levels, ranging from science and technology, law, business, finance, economics to literature, arts, design and many others. Many world leaders and people who are at the forefront of progress and innovation are linked to America's universities, either as graduates or faculty. It is not uncommon at the best universities that many professors are Nobel prize laureates, former CEO's or world-renowned experts.

 

All this, however, comes at a cost. A year of studying at an American university costs about $60,000 including tuition, accommodation, transportation and study materials. That is significantly more expensive than most other countries and the number of American students who think university education is worth this price is dropping every year. The average American student has a student debt of roughly $40,000 and many struggle to repay it. It is no surprise that at many American universities there are more students from the top 1%  than the bottom 60% of the American population. The amount of total student debt in the US stands at a staggering $1.5 trillion (that is $1,500,000,000,000).

Universities are very well aware of this and about 45% of their budget is spent on scholarships. This means that you might end up paying much less than the original cost of tuition. In our opinion, studying in America is worth it in two cases - if you or your parents can afford it, or if you receive a sizable scholarship. Otherwise, countries like Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Singapore, Austria and China - where education is often free - provide a much better value option through which you will be able to save 80-99% of the cost. 

However, two aspects in which American universities truly excel are the amount of opportunities off campus and the attention they give to their students. There is strong competition between American universities and they truly go lengths to make sure their students have everything they need to be successful at their school and also once they leave and start their career. Many universities abroad overlook these two aspects, but we found them to be crucial in determining someone's success. This support system often results in American students feeling empowered and much more confident compared to their peers from other countries and this also results in them being much more likely to take on challenges and demanding endeavors after graduation.

Admissions Process

 

The application process for U.S. universities is probably the most complex in the world and you should start preparing for it at least a year before the application deadline. Universities can accept applications through three main systems: Common Application, Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application. Some universities accept neither of those, in which case they will have their own system (e.g. MIT, University of California, University of Texas).

No matter through which system you apply, these will be the main elements to your application:

Grades

Grades show your willingness to challenge yourself with tough courses and perform well academically.

Test Results

Universities require them in order to get quantitative data on each candidate and a benchmark to compare them objectively.

Extracurriculars

They showcase your ability to manage extra workload, your dedication, leadership, creativity, organization or teamwork.

Essays

Essays are meant to show universities who you really are, that there is a real person behind all those numbers.

Recommendations

They will help universities determine how well you'll fit on their campus and contribute to their community.

 

Scholarships

 

Boston

Boston is the educational capital of America. The city hosts two of the best universities in the world - Harvard and MIT, alongside which are Boston University, Boston College, Brandeis, Tufts, Wellesley, Northeastern and Berklee College of Music. The city hosts some of America's main historical landmarks and cultural venues. It is also one of the major economic centers with companies such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Dell EMC, New Balance, iRobot, Trip Advisor, Wayfair, Hubspot, Raytheon, MathWorks, Bose, State Street, Liberty Mutual, Fidelity, John Hancock, Staples - all having their headquarters in Boston. The Boston area emerged as the world's center for biotech, with companies like Sanofi, ​PfizerBiogen, and Novartis having large research facilities in the area. Because there are so many top universities in Boston, the city is the America's main startup center after San Francisco. Most of those new companies are often founded by the alumni of local universities.

Boston is one of the most liveable cities in the United States. Getting around Boston is easy as the core of the city is relatively small and the transportation system functions well. However, if you live more than 15 miles away from the center, you might want to consider buying a car. This way, you will have a much greater opportunity to enjoy the city and also network. The rents in Boston and Cambridge are very expensive and cost about $3000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Rooms in a multi-bedroom place usually go for about $1000. Somerville and Brookline are cheaper alternatives, but it is still very hard to find a room for less than $700 a month. In case you decide to study here, be prepared for the famous New England winter - especially if you come from a tropical region.

When it comes to the student life, it might sound surprising, but don't expect too much. Compared to other students cities, such as those in Europe, the nightlife in Boston is very underwhelming. All the clubs and bars close at 2am and everything is designed in such a way for you to focus on your studies, rather than to have fun. If you want to have real fun, your best bet is New York.

Cities

 

Jobs

America is the home of XXX of the world's largest 1000 companies. Almost all other global companies have their offices in the United States. The unemployment rate currently stands at XX percent, the lowest in XX years. Finding the right job in US should be easier than in any other country. Be aware, although things seem easy on paper, finding the right job in America is not as easy as it would seem.

The first step would be to know what you want and universities often have devoted career strategies team whose role is to help you find the right career for you. They also help you with finding internships that would allow you to get first-hand experience so that you can understand if that's the right path for you. Crafting resumes and cover letter is also something that these departments help you to do, something that is not common at all at other universities around the world. They have an additional role as well and that is to connect you to the alumni. The alumni culture is also something that is specific to the US. In most countries around the world, people don't care if you went to their university and they don't see that as a big deal. In America, it is almost like becoming a family friend. Universities here cherish a sense of community and it is this sense of community that allows its students to help each other out in their careers and eventually lead to the university becoming more successful too. Use this phenomenon to your advantage and, once you figure out your career path, reach out to as many alumni that can help you to get there. Read our tips on how to do this in the best possible way.