How to Study in the U.S.
Your journey to studying in the USA won’t be a completely straight line. Most likely, it will branch out in many directions, spanning time, countries, and schools. No two journeys are ever the same — each student has a completely unique experience and adventure on their way.
Over the past year, Study in the USA has had the opportunity to interview several international students studying in the U.S. Get a glimpse into their journeys and perhaps an idea of what you can expect from your own as you look to study abroad.
No journey is the same
Finding your perfect school or program will involve research and multiple applications. Among students interviewed by Study in the USA, the number of colleges in the USA they applied to are as follows:
1 university: 27%
2-3 universities: 27%
4+ universities: 46%
Here are some of the experiences our students went through before finding their dream school:
Jocelyn Paz, Los Angeles City College (LACC)
Jocelyn Paz applied to multiple universities before finding her right fit at Los Angeles City College (LACC).
“My mom came here in 2019 so she told me about it. Here’s Netflix, Warner, Disney, Pixar — all these big companies, you can join them. I was looking for a college and found a lot of programs about arts, animation, and modeling. I applied to a lot of colleges, but none of them were giving me answers. We had to get papers mailed to my country from here. Finally in May of this year (2021) I got approved, I got my visa, and I came here to the U.S.” —Jocelyn Paz, Guatemala, Los Angeles City College
In Jocelyn’s case, it was difficult completing the application process with the need to transfer transcripts, school records, and other documents to many universities. Her journey began in 2019 and came to fruition two years later.
Was it worth it? Finding a university like LACC that was willing to go the extra mile for her showed her that LACC was where she belonged, and it made the effort of applying to multiple schools worth it.
Want to hear Jocelyn talk about her experience? Watch our informative Facebook Live session where she talks with Darren Grosch, M.Ed, LACC’s associate dean of academic affairs and International Student Program.
Sergi Ibarz Garcia, Stevens Institute of Technology
Sergi Ibarz Garcia started his master’s studies at 26 years old, years after earning his undergraduate degree.
Sergi Ibarz Garcia was 26 years old and had already gone through school to obtain his undergraduate degree in business and finance. Sergi had a comfortable career working in private equity in Spain but felt like his career was going nowhere fast. With the clock ticking, he said “I feel like this is the very last chance of moving my career to another path. For me, it was now or never.”
Sergi actively started looking for master’s programs in computational finance; he had a few requirements for the university he’d like to attend — it needed to be affordable and have strong post-graduation employment statistics. After sorting through colleges in the USA, he found the Stevens Institute of Technology, a school he believed was the best value for his money and where he’s currently pursuing his master’s in Financial Engineering.
When asked what advice he would offer to future students, he said, “My biggest advice is, make sure you truly want to come here and study. It’s not easy to leave your family and come here and study, not only money but also time. Make sure you really want it. Take into account that this is a country where people are way more competitive than Europe. You need to be prepared to work really hard.”
Bhavani Nainala, Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU)
Bhavani Nainala applied to 5 universities and was accepted by each one.
Bhavani reflects the opposite side of the coin and was faced with a different challenge in finding her right-fit university. In an interview, she said, “choosing MNSU was always a tough choice since I applied to four other universities, and I got admission to four other universities.”
Where many students struggle to find acceptance into a single university, Bhavani had several options to choose from. Although her situation might be more ideal, there’s a unique challenge that comes from having too many options. For Bhavani, choosing Minnesota State University, Mankato came down to one thing — opportunities. Here are a few of the opportunities she was able to experience from choosing MNSU:
Went to Iowa State University as a student-representative of MNSU for a research seminar
Created her own Super Mario–type game that can be used on her resume
Planned international student events through the International Students Organization for students from 96 countries
Where one student may value financial support or housing accommodation when choosing a university, others like Bhavani prioritize opportunities to build their resumes. When faced with many options, it’s best to know what it is that you want out of your study abroad experience.
Carlos A. Pinto-Corredor, Manhattan College
Carlos A. Pinto-Corredor applied to one university and was accepted into it.
Carlos had a laser-focus on where he wanted to study, and everything worked out to land him exactly where he wanted to be. Manhattan College is part of a huge network of universities, one that has ties to Carlos’ first university back in his home country of Colombia. With his transfer plans already in place, Carlos buckled down to work on learning English.
From the outside looking in, it would seem as simple as applying to one university and moving to New York upon acceptance. What you don’t see is the 3+ years Carlos spent preparing for his move to Manhattan College.
Even for those who apply to a single university, there’s more to their student journey than meets the eye.
You can do it too!
Your student journey adventure will be unique and call on new skills, determination, and the willingness to figure it out as you go. But know that there are students just like you striving to reach the same destination, who have gone through similar struggles and are now thriving as they’ve seen their dreams come true.
Want more information? Download our guide with tips to help you on your student journey!
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