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25 Things You Did Not Know About Studying In the US

The United States of America is the world’s top destination for international students. Last year over 1 million students enrolled to study in the United States accounting for a fifth of the global total population of foreign students.

If you are among many who plan on applying to study in the US, in this post, you will learn 25 things you probably did know about studying in the US.

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Let’s begin…

  • In America “school”, “College” and “University” mean different things

Yes. In most countries the word college is probably associated with secondary schools (which by the way is called High School in the US) or an institution you attend to acquire more work based certifications. In the US, no one talks about going to university. After high school, you go to college, even if the institution you are attending calls itself a university.

  • Most of the best universities in the world are in the US

American universities have always dominated the list of the world’s best universities. Only until recently Harvard University held the title of the best university in the world, for 7 consecutive years. Seven of the best ten universities in the world are in the US while 60 of the best 200 are also in the US.

  • You don’t have to choose your major degree right away

In the American college system, students are expected to take about five subjects per semester then declare a major. A major is the main course you will graduate in. This affords students the flexibility to major in a course but take a “minor” in another course. For instance a student could major in robotics, and then take a minor in literature.

  • Books will drain your account

Textbooks will leave a gaping hole in your pocket. They cost a lot and they are necessary. Luckily, social media groups dedicated to sharing or passing on second-hand textbooks are becoming more common, so you might be able to find some bargains.

  • The first week will be either heaven or hell

The first week of college at the vast majority of US colleges is usually one of disorientation; trying to remember people’s names, keeping up your energy levels and getting lost on campus. Love it or hate it, it’s a rite of passage that seemingly everyone has to go through.

  • There are two admission intake periods in a year

Fall and spring. The Fall Intake starts in August, and it has the most number of courses available. It is also the most favorite among international students. The Spring intake starts in January and the students who might have missed the fall intake in USA can choose to study then but not all courses will be available.

  • Tuition fees are wildly expensive

For international students, getting a degree from a US university gets more expensive by the year. International students in the US who study in a public university pay an average of US$24,930 as tuition fees while those in a private university pay $33,480 for undergraduate tuition fees. There’s been a 42% spike in tuition fees since 2009.

  • There are lots of scholarships to apply for.

With tuition fees way above the means of many students, it’s only fair that there be a way around. US universities have some of the highest scholarship offers for international students. Most fund all of your tuition while some fund part of it. Fulbright Foreign Students Program is one of the full funded scholarships.

WATCH: Top 10 Fully Funded Scholarships in USA for International Students!

  • College sport matters

In US colleges, sports have a huge following and you will do well to join the wagon. Support and cheer your school team whenever they play.

  • There are restrictions on study-work options.

International students who have an F-1 and M-1 visa are allowed to work on-campus and in specified training programs. Students are not allowed to work off-campus during their first academic year. Students can gain employment off-campus after completing their first academic year through programs such as Optical Practical Training (OPT)

  • Not all Universities require TOEFL or IELTS

Not all US universities require TOEFL or IELTS scores for graduate students. But in such cases, the student would be expected to have undertaken their previous education in English.

Read: List of Countries (Universities) to Study Abroad Without TOEFL/IELTS for International Students

  • The US and Canada are not the same

 The US and Canada differ in a lot of ways. The US is a presidential democracy with the president as the head of state and government. In Canada, the prime minister is the head of government while the British monarch is the head of state. In Canada, English and French are the official languages, while in the US, as a country, has no official language, although English and Spanish are widespread.

  • Ivy League colleges are… in a league of their own.

The Ivy League is a group of Colleges in the US, eight actually, and they are some of the most prestigious universities in the world.  Firstly, they use a lot of resources to attract smart, hard-working, and career-minded students—like you–from all over the world.  Tuition fees for an Ivy League school cost a lot though, on average $55,000-$60,000.

  • The weather in the US can be pretty extreme

The US is a very large country with varying climates all around. Depending on what part of the US you will be studying, you will have to brace yourself for frostbiting blizzards or Searing heat. Flashfloods and hurricane maybe on the forecast too, if you will be studying in coastal states like Florida or Louisiana.

  • Health insurance is compulsory.

Health insurance is mandatory for international students in the US. As a matter of fact you will not be able to register for classes if you are unable to provide proof that you have health insurance. You can purchase from your school, or buy one yourself.

  • Public Universities are cheaper than Private Universities

Government owned Universities are much cheaper. Tuition fees range from $9,716 for students who are residents of the state to $21,629 for non residents. Tuition fees for private colleges go for as high as $35,676.

  • Cost of living in the US is very high

Perhaps one of the biggest mental adjustments to be made when opting for the USA as a study destination is to understand the cost of living. Getting grips with the cost of living will depend on where you study; Urban, Sub-urban or rural areas will all generate different types of costs. On average you could be spending between $10,000 -12,000 per year, with accommodation and utilities alone costing the most.

  • International students are diverse, but mostly from China

 In 2018, there were 363,431 international students from China, about 30% of the total international student population. India came a distant second with 17%.

  • There are plenty part-time campus jobs.

Library monitor, Teaching assistant, Tour guide, University book store assistant are just few in many available part-time campus jobs to pick from.

  • Americans love coffee

So prepare your mind to spend time around Starbucks getting some coffee before heading off to class in the mornings.

  • Classes are relaxed, your grades aren’t.

In the U.S. you’ll notice, that students seem to work their classes into their own schedules, showing up when they choose, as they choose. This should not be mistaken for laziness and slacking. American professors don’t mind a casual attitude, as long as you have something to show for it. If, however, you’re too relaxed to study, you will soon find yourself, going to their office for a re-examination.

  • Acceptance rates vary

Acceptance rates into US universities vary depending on the school applied for. Prestigious Colleges like Harvard and Columbia University have a meager acceptance rate of 5% and 6% respectively. University of Colorado has an acceptance rate of 85%. Overall acceptance into US colleges for international students is around 52%.

  • Financial aid is restricted for international students

International students are not eligible for U.S. federal student aid like FAFSA. However, there are other avenues for an international student to get financial aid in the US through organizations like the Fulbright commission, Soros Foundation, United Nations etc.

  • Americans are passionate about football

No not soccer! American football! They go crazy for the sport, you may catch the bug too.

  • After graduation you have 60 days to leave or enroll in another program.

As an international student, you will have 60 days after graduation to either enroll in another college program for further studies or enroll in an Optional Practical Training program to gain employment after you graduate from college on an F-1 visa. If this does not take place within 60 days you will have to leave the US.

There you have it. You just learned 25 things you probably did not know about studying in the USA. Which of them struck you the most? Let us know in the comment section. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa, now is a good time to subscribe. Until next time, your SUCCESS MATTERS!

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