A Complete Travel Guide for Students Going to the U.S.A

The United States, known for its groundbreaking innovation and research, is a popular choice among international students, ranking third behind those seeking to study in Canada and the United Kingdom. More than 1.1 million applicants travel to the United States every year to study for their higher education degree at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions. 

While it is tough to pinpoint the exact cause of a student’s enthusiasm for a country, several factors make the United States a popular choice for international students. First, the United States provides it all, from the top 13 institutes out of the top 20 institutions in the world (Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings) to an unending choice of courses, diversified atmosphere, and work prospects.

According to the SEVP’s “SEVIS by the Numbers ” report, India is one of the major donors to the student population in the United States (251,290), second only to China (478,732). Furthermore, according to a survey done by India Today in April 2020, 70 percent of Indian students favour an international healthcare system, with the United States ranking third with 18% of votes. 

This demonstrates that, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the allure and intrigue with studying in the United States remain strong among overseas applicants.

Why study in the USA?

Choosing a country to study in while living thousands of miles away from home is a dream for some and a long-term investment. Against this backdrop, the United States has long been a preferred destination for applicants from all over the world seeking higher education. As stated by the U.S. News & World Report, the United States has 48 top universities in the world.

Let’s put more focus on the benefits of studying in the United States to see why it’s so popular with students.

Top Universities

When it comes to some of the world’s best universities for higher education, the United States of America has the lion’s share. 15 American colleges are among the top 20 institutions in the world, according to Times Higher Education. According to QS World Ranking, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Caltech are the top four universities in the world.


The United States offers various degrees that are ‘STEM eligible,’ allowing international students to continue staying in the country for two years after completing their degrees.

Flexible Education System

The credit transfer system in the United States of America allows for more flexibility in the educational system. As a result, students at the undergraduate level are uplifted to investigate numerous fields and choose a major by the end of the second year. 

They offer various traditional and non-traditional majors and minors and the freedom to choose which, when, and how many classes to take each semester to create a highly strengthening structure that lets each individual grow and modify according to their strengths and weaknesses.

A Wide Range of Courses

Over 2 million programmes are available through 4- and 2-year colleges, including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and Doctoral, Vocational, Associate, and Certificate programmes.

Research and Development

The United States leads the world in research and development. According to the National Science Foundation, universities spent over 22 billion dollars on research and innovation in 2015.

Employment Prospects

After completing their degree, 62 percent of international students find work in the United States. The median pay range following a four-year degree in the United States is roughly 61,000 to 1 20,700 USD at the mid-career level.

The education system in the USA

Many students who plan to pursue higher education in the United States may be startled to learn that the country lacks an educational system. The federal government can only affect education through the funds it provides, which is restricted. There are no national exams for high school graduation. There are, however, state-mandated graduation exams that students must pass. 

When it comes to higher education, students have many alternatives to selecting a college or university. Even though organizations aim to rank American schools and universities, the concept of “fit” is also significant.

Although admitted students’ GPA is essential, other variables influencing a prospective student’s decision include majors offered, geography, students enrolled, and campus culture. Some colleges and universities are subsidised by the government, while private donors support others.

Popular student destinations

Some of the best universities in the United States are Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, and Stanford University (in no particular order). On the east coast of the United States, New England is the epicentre of the country’s finest academic institutions. In addition, Boston, New York, Cambridge, Old Saybrook, and New Haven are home to most of the country’s premier colleges. 

During the academic year 2019-20, around 193,124 International students were studying in the United States. The most common students in the United States are business management, computer science, finance and accounting, economics, communications/media, physical and life sciences.

Types of higher education institutions in the USA

State colleges and universities

The United States has 50 states, each of which operates at least one university or college to provide high-quality higher education to low-income students. These universities are supported by their respective state governments and have cutting-edge facilities. The University of California or Texas A&M University are two examples. Different schools have different selection standards, and for admission to colleges in the United States, students must have a particular minimum percentage.

Private colleges and universities

These institutions are privately administered and are regarded as more expensive than public schools.

Community colleges

Community institutions provide two-year transferable certificates or associate degrees. In most cases, community college graduates transfer to universities or four-year colleges to finish their education.

However, they are allowed to transfer credits obtained at a community college. In addition, ESL classes or other programmes that prepare students for university-level courses are available in community institutions.

Technology and liberal arts college

Students pursuing a liberal arts degree concentrate on a major of their choosing, but they must also take General Education classes in practically all of the other areas available. Universities often provide the same major in two or more degree fields, whereas liberal arts colleges often provide one broad study area. Even if a student majors in mathematics, he or she can pursue a career in engineering.

Which exam is required to study in the USA?

Language tests

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardised language examinations that must be taken to be considered for college entrance. These have a variety of forms, structures, and outcome bands. These examinations differ in a variety of ways, but many institutions will accept any of the scores. As a result, the student should choose which exam to take.

General exams

GMAT: The Graduate Management Admission Test is designed to assess a potential MBA candidate’s ability to pursue higher education in business or management. It assesses a student’s arithmetic, English, and thinking skills.

GRE: Students seeking graduate institutions to pursue MA or MS degrees must also take the Graduate Record Examination. Many business schools are now using GRE scores as part of the admissions process for MBA programmes.

LSAT: The Law School Admission Examination is a standardised test used in the admissions process for law schools. It is a test of reading and verbal thinking abilities that law schools might use to evaluate applicants.

SAT: The Scholastic Assessment Test assesses literacy and writing abilities necessary for college achievement. This examination evaluates how well test takers analyse and solve issues, which are abilities they learnt in school and will need in college. High school students generally take the SAT to get admission to UG courses.

Study in the USA vs Covid-19

Even though the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic around the globe to a standstill and had a significant impact on the global economy, the energy and desire of overseas students seeking to study in the United States were unaffected. According to a survey published by PIE News in April 2020, around 70% of Indian students still wish to pursue their education overseas. 

Only 1% of the total students preferred to stay in India and begin their studies, while 9% of hopefuls preferred to defer their enrollment. According to a similar analysis released in June 2020 by Vigo Stacey, just 2% of all South Asian students were contemplating abandoning their plans to study abroad. The remaining 90% wished to continue higher education abroad.

Because students’ enthusiasm throughout the world has not waned, US colleges have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the proper operation of the academic world. As a result, they have upheld their half of the bargain. 

Moving all classes online; since local IELTS/TOEFL/PTE centres were temporarily closed, universities endured to offer pre-sessional to students in need; strict safety, health, and hygiene measures by almost all institutes of higher education in the United States of America to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Popular courses to study in the USA

While the United States has programmes in practically every subject imaginable, there are a few favourites among international applicants at the top of nearly everyone’s list. While STEM courses dominate the list, other programmes are equally outstanding and highly liked by many.

If you are an international applicant, some of the best courses you may apply for include:

MS in Data Science Masters in Business Analytics Masters in Finance
MS in Computer Science MS in Data Analytics Masters in Management 
MS in Civil Engineering  MS in Artificial Intelligence BBA
MS in Engineering Management  M.Arch Masters in Cyber Security 
B.Tech Masters in Economics Masters in Supply chain management 
MS in Mechanical Engineering Masters in Project Management Masters in Information System 
B.Sc Computer Science Masters in International Business Masters in Digital Marketing

How to study in the USA: A 6-step guide

A 6-step application process along with before and after measures are as compiled below.

Research the options

Because the United States is home to some of the world’s best and most prominent colleges, you must conduct a comprehensive study on the elements that are most important to you before making this critical decision. Rankings, expenditures, prestige, and the availability of the programme of your choice, as well as the average acceptance rate and entrance standards of that organisation, are all aspects to consider.

Plan your finances

The cost of education in the United States varies by programme, institute (private or public), and degree of study (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral). 

While a bachelor’s degree in the United States might cost anywhere from $15,000 to $55,000 a year, a master’s degree may cost anywhere from $15,000 to 30,000 a year.

Prepare your application

Plan ahead of time for your application and keep track of what criteria have the most significant impact on the institute’s admissions process. 

Work on your whole student profile, with letters of reference, personal essays, statements of purpose, and the interview process receiving special attention.

Look for standardised exams in the USA

International applicants must provide proof of English proficiency in the IELTS/TOEFL or a comparable exam. Other tests, such as the GRE/GMAT or the SAT/ACT, may be required depending on the course and programme level you pick.

Apply for a visa

International students must have a valid visa to study in the United States. Once an applicant has received an offer of admission from the university and an I-20, the next step is to apply for a student visa at the nearest US Embassy or consulate.

Ready for departure

Once your visa has been accepted, pack your belongings, notify your university, and prepare to go to your ideal location.

When to study in the USA: Application Cycle

US universities observe a semester-wise application cycle for applicants seeking to study in the USA. Therefore, admissions take place in 3 semesters.

  • Fall semester
    • The semester starts late in August and ends in December or early January.
    • Many universities offer selected courses only during the fall semester.
    • Most of the Scholarships and job opportunities are available during this time only.
  • Spring Semester
    • Spring Semester starts in January and ends in early May.
    • Applications are considered comparatively more minor than those during the fall semester.
    • Spring applicants do not meet the eligibility for most of the applications.
  • Summer Semester
    • The summer semester is the shortest of all semesters.
    • It’s two months long. Starting in June and ending in July.
    • Special summer programs are taught this semester.

Cost of living in the USA

The estimated cost of living in the United States is between $10000 and $12000 a year, or $700 to $1000 per month. This covers lodging, room and board, meals, transport, textbooks, weather-appropriate apparel, and entertainment.

How can Amberstudent help you?

We at AmberStudent are devoted to giving you the best experience and option for student accommodation worldwide because we understand its value. We have updated ourselves with the latest COVID-19 policies and would be more than eager to assist you in those.

By: Chinmayee Rout

Author’s Bio: 

Chinmayee Rout completed her graduation from Delhi, pursuing her goals of being a passionate reader and writer. She has worked with ET and PTI and many big agencies. Being a Delhiite, she’s fond of hopping food stalls and traveling to new places. She connects with the world through her writings.

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