Choosing a School in the U.S.

Choosing a school in the U.S. will depend on several personal and practical criteria. This list is not comprehensive but provides some of the more important factors that international student should consider when applying to college in the U.S.


Competition among international students for admission into U.S. colleges is strong enough that students must apply to many schools in order to be admitted to a few schools. A common strategy is to request applications from at least 10 schools. You should plan on applying to as many as 15 institutions if you are interested in entering a highly competitive field such as engineering or business.

It is important not to limit your applications to only the most prestigious colleges and universities. Students typically divide their potential schools into several categories:

1.) prestigious, and therefore very competitive, schools

2.) schools that are less selective

3.) “safety schools” that will almost certainly admit the student. You can usually determine a school’s selectivity by the minimum admission scores on standardized tests.

By taking this strategy, an international student has a good chance of getting into at least one school in the U.S.


The location of the school will determine your living conditions for approximately four years while you complete your degree. The time you spend working on your degree will be more enjoyable if you choose the right setting. Students should first consider if they want to study in a big city or in a smaller town.

Attending school in a city is a desirable prospect for many international students because it helps them experience American culture easily. Larger cities also allow international students to be close to communities of their fellow countrymen. However, dealing with a new school and a new city can be overwhelming for students. The cost of living is usually higher in big cities.

The majority of universities are not located in large world-famous cities. Many prestigious research institutions are in small cities or even towns. It can be difficult for students to adjust to life in a small town; however, attending school in a town or rural setting has several distinct advantages. Small towns usually have a lowest cost of living, a higher quality of life and allow students to focus more on their studies than big cities.

Research University or Liberal Arts College

Students should also decide if they want to attend to a large research university or a smaller liberal-arts college. Each kind of campus has advantages and disadvantages.

Many international students attend large research universities because these schools are usually internationally-known. These institutions are typically public and receive funding from the state in which they are located. Therefore, these schools tend to have lower tuition costs.

Research universities also tend to have a sizeable student body, which means larger class sizes and less personal attention. These schools also tend to have research opportunities for motivated students.

There are hundreds of smaller colleges providing excellent educational opportunities in the U.S
. as well. These schools offer smaller class sizes and a more personalized approach to learning. However, these schools usually have higher tuition fees than larger institutions.

Number of International Students

One potentially important factor in choosing a college is the number of international students that attend the school. Some schools have a large international student body, which is an advantage for new international students.

Other international students can be a valuable resource to help new students adjust to life in the U.S. In addition, these schools tend to have more resources, activities, and services available to international students. If you attend a school without a large number of international students, you will simply be forced to adjust to life in the U.S. quickly and without the support of fellow students.

Cost of the College

Most colleges require international applicants to prove sufficient financial resources before admitting them. However, in order to save money, international students should ddetermine in they can afford the total cost of college before applying to a college or university.

The total cost of an education includes tuition, books, room and board, and living expenses. These costs, especially tuition, often increase each year. Estimates of the total cost of a four-year education are often available from the university’s website. If you can not afford the college of you choice, be aware that there may be other colleges that cost less with similar programs of study.

To help pa
y for college, international student may consider a “work-study” program offered by some schools. Work-study programs allow students to help pay for some expenses or earn college credit by working part-time on campus or in a research lab.