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Tips on How to Choose Your US College

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Jan 22, 2019

Choosing any school for higher education will always challenge any student. The same goes for anyone wants to study in the United States (US). After all, it’s never easy committing to the school you’d spend four years of your educational life in, especially if you have more than one option to choose from.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! As long as you consider these five major factors before sending in your application forms and essays, your chances of picking the right school will be higher.

Check your location.

Would you really want to spend most of your time traveling from one state to another? Unlike smaller countries such as the Philippines, the US is a large continent composed of fifty different states, each with their own cultures, geographical location and weather conditions.

The latter, in particular, is important if you’re sensitive to weather changes. You have states like Maine and New York, which house cold temperatures, and others like Texas and California, which have warmer temperatures.

Costs of living should also be considered. Are you more of a city person who prefers the busy, crowded streets? Do you prefer a simpler life in a town with fewer people? Are you into living closer to the mountains? Or would you rather study near the seaside?

The US contains states that you know by name such as Florida or Washington. But there are other plenty of other ones worth exploring. Each of these locations offers a lower cost of living that you can consider when you’re budgeting your daily and travel expenses.

Know your degree and the schools that offer it.

Choosing your degree depends on what you specifically need. For high school graduates or holders of similar educational attainment, focus on finding a college that offers bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. But if you’ve already finished your college degree and want to pursue a higher level of education, then take a master’s or a doctoral degree.

You can also decide what school you want to take before you ultimately decide on the course.

In the US, there are three major types of colleges that you need to consider before enrolling:

  • Community College – if you’re aiming for associate degrees, community colleges can help you earn one in two years. Usually, they cost lower than regular tuition fees, which can also rack up to tuition fees that public universities offer. A lot of higher institutions in recent years also offer four-year bachelor’s degrees with assorted programs, so if you’re looking for a more affordable option, taking a community college degree is a better deal.

Once you’ve earned your associate degree, you can also pursue the last two years of your education in a four-year university for your bachelor’s degree.

If you see yourself in the US for a short amount of time or are still unsure if a four-year course would be feasible for you, pick this cheaper alternative instead.

  • Public University – you’ve probably stumbled upon “state universities” with various public schools under their belt, right? Schools under the “state university system” usually house at least 10,000 students, which can go as far as 60,000 students. With a large population, these schools are usually equipped with a lot of opportunities such as clubs, organizations, sports games and more. If you don’t mind earning a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a school setting with a huge crowd of people, choose a public university.
  • Private College – aside from state-run universities, the US also has a lot of private-run institutions under their belt. Usually, these schools contain less than 10,000 students that can sometimes reach up to 30,000 students. This is advantageous for students who prefer smaller class populations and easier access to their professors. Private universities are more expensive, but if you would choose to pursue your bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a more controlled environment, pick a private college.

If expenses are your main problem, check if your dream school offers scholarships so expenses wouldn’t be a burden.  

International students who really need to improve their English language are highly encouraged to take an English language skills program or any bridge program. These year-long programs allow you to pursue English as a second language (ESL) course along with your other classes, which you can add as an extra credit to your degree. Complete these courses so your affiliated college or university can grant you with “conditional acceptance” as part of your grade.

Pick your major.

You’ll also need to choose your college major before you can decide what you can career path to pursue in the future. Do you have a certain personal interest or passion that you want to pursue in the future? Check how much you can earn from that particular career path. Is the salary feasible enough to help you survive? Are there certain jobs that you want in that same industry?

There’s no rush in resting or taking a  gap year while figuring out what major you want to take for college. Research on what career paths you’re bound to encounter in your major – if you feel like you want to take any of the options that you see, then that major might be right for you.

Reputation doesn’t matter.

You might hear of colleges that are known for one thing or another in America. Of course, you have some of the more sports-centric ones while others might drill students more with academics. Stereotypes will always be around, but it doesn’t have to mean you have to take whatever you hear into consideration.

Whether they’re positive or negative, you’re still bound to learn a thing or two about these schools. Usually, you get to hear them from their respective social media channels, official websites, and even graduates from those schools. Reach out to your friends from these schools and ask them about their experience in these schools.

But no matter what you read or hear about a certain school, it’s always best to trust your own opinion about these matters. It’s your dream school after all, right?

Visit your dream school!

Once you’ve found a clear idea of what you want from your future school and started sending in those applications, set up a campus visit for each of the schools on your list. That way, you can get a real feel of the school you want, along with the environment and the way their students interact with each other.

If a particular college is offering a college tour, try joining one so you can get to learn more about your dream school in a more intimate level with the campus and its students.

But if you don’t have the means or the access to an actual campus tour, best to check the school if they’re offering a one-on-one “virtual tour” online. Or try scheduling a Skype conversation with a school representative so you can have more information about your school.

Are you convinced that studying abroad is the right path for you to take? Check out the schools you can find abroad in Edukasyon.ph, and check out the Studying Abroad blog to check out more tips on being able to make it!

 

Written By:

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Lis Fortun

Aside from music, storytelling has always been one of Lis's biggest passions. She also writes in the hopes of empowering the youth to make a difference in the world.

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