While starting the college search is difficult, finding the right college has even more hurdles as an international student. With foreign terms such as the SAT and Common App, as well as the fact that visiting colleges can be downright impossible, finalizing a college list can turn one’s hair grey. Yet if you still want to study abroad in the US and want to pursue the American dream, not all hope is lost. Though it can be challenging, it is possible to find the right college for you without ever having to step foot inside the US.
Though some may warn against using this tool as a crutch, looking at school rankings can help narrow down a search. Interested in nursing? Look up some top ranked schools in nursing, or that at least put precedence in that field. Rankings can be helpful in almost every aspect. After all, if there is someone who cares about it, there will be a ranking for it. From best campus food to most attractive students, there is a list for everything. However, it would be wise to not take these lists to heart. Rank is not everything, and in many cases, means very little in choosing a school (unless prestige is important to you, then by all means go ahead), so don’t get too caught up in numbers.
Yet if you don’t apply according to rank, what else can you do to compare schools? Unlike local Americans, visiting universities can have financial and time-consuming issues. Despite this, it is still possible to get that miracle moment when you can sense that a school is right for you. Many universities post pictures and videos of their school, from campus tours to dorm room tours to even videos of the move in day process. You can find almost any university on Instragram, Facebook, and many other social media sites, where you can see the latest news and pictures. This is beneficial in getting a look at what the campus life is like, and what the university considers priority, whether it be sports, charity events, or more. However, while these tools can be incredibly useful in developing an emotional attachment towards a school, it is important to consider the facts as well.
When applying to American universities, you will need to take the SAT and/or ACT, and possibly a few SAT Subject Tests. Research which tests each university requires, as well as how many essays you are needed to write. For example, if you are unsure about applying for a certain university, and then see that they require five essays, it may make finalizing your college list a lot easier (but if you are interested in a university, don’t let the amount of requirements scare you away from applying). Furthermore, it is important to know that American universities do not give financial aid to international students, though some may take your financial need into consideration during the application process. It is very rare and almost unheard of for an American university to give scholarships to an international student (though I suppose athletes are an exception), so if you have financial concerns it is crucial to understand that attending an American university will most likely cost significantly more than attending a local university. However, don’t let this crush your dreams. You can still apply to outside scholarships from organizations, whether they be within your home country or in the US.
Finally, it’s important to think about what you want out of your college experience. Is attending an American university right for you? Only you can decide. While some may find that the time and money that goes into simply applying is too much of a hassle, others may think that the trouble is more than worthwhile. At the end of the day, it is crucial that you aren’t blindly following the American dream, but your own dream.