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How to Choose a US College from Halfway Around the World

Are you an international student with plans to study in the U.S.? Then check out these tips from University Language Services and learn how to apply to U.S. colleges!

So, you’ve decided you want to study in the US for your college education – Congratulations!

But choosing a school in the US is a huge decision. You need to figure out where you’ll be living and studying for the next four years which is not a decision that can be made lightly. And with more than 2,800 4-year colleges in the US, it’s difficult to determine the handful that you’ll be applying to.

If you have a specific program or major in mind already, the process is a little easier – you’ll want to start by looking at colleges with strong programs in your preferred area. However, if you’re unsure what you want to study, the process can be more than a little daunting.

But fear not! We have some great tips for researching your perfect American school. (And if all else fails, you can always transfer.)


Academic Programs

If you’re looking for rigorous academic programs, you’ll want to consider more selective US schools – that is, those which have a lower acceptance rate.

You can also base your decision on the kinds of academic programs a college has – are small classes important to you, or would you rather sit in on large lectures? Does the college have a strong program in your desired major? Or, if you’re undecided, does it have a broad range of possible majors for you to choose from?


Location, Location, Location

Location matters. Do you want to tan in between classes or do you want to be able to build igloos? Do you need mountains for weekend ski trips or will you wither away if you don’t get to visit the beach? You can find just about any climate in the US, and there are great colleges to be found all over the place– so do your research and consider colleges in your preferred area.

Location also means deciding whether you’d rather live in the city or the suburbs, or even in a more rural area.


Tuition Costs

If you’re looking to have the US college experience on a budget, you’ll need to plan carefully.

Only six of the US’ most highly selective colleges offer full need-based aid to international students: Amherst College, Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University, Williams College and Yale University.

Of course, there are also plenty of scholarships available to international students – make sure to research these and apply to as many as you can.


Deciding Where to Apply

You can use a site like or to start looking at schools based on selectivity, location, class size, cost and more. But what do you do once you have a list of schools to consider applying to?


Start Digging

The US college application process is no joke, and each application is going to require a lot of time, patience and even money – you’ll want to be sure you’re only applying to schools you would be happy to go to.

The best way to be sure about a school is to go on a campus visit, but this is often unrealistic for international students. In lieu of this, the best tool at your disposal is the internet.

Scour your potential college’s website – it may even offer a virtual campus tour. It’s also a good idea to check out a prospective school’s social media accounts. You can join a Facebook group and ask current students what they think of the school, or search for alumni in your area who can perhaps answer some questions for you.

On top of this, there are whole sites such as and that can give you student feedback on schools.

After you’ve finished researching your potential schools, you get to sit back and…fill out lengthy applications, write the perfect admissions essay, and wait a few months for a decision from the school. It’ll all be worth it, we promise!

This post was written by University Language.



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