The idea of attending a university or college in the United States to further your education can be rewarding. It can also be somewhat frustrating. Keep in mind that you are going to be in a foreign country that may speak a language different from yours and the country may have cultural differences that may be minor or striking when compared to your home country. For example, you may come from a country with an education program that is much less teacher focused than in the United States. In the U.S. students listen to lectures given by teachers and take notes. They are also expected to remember information from these lectures and from textbooks and to take exams that require answers that are a part of the lectures and textbook material. Moreover, as a university student in the U.S., you will be required to write essays. Students who come from a non-western country may be more used to an educational system that doesnot require so much writing. In addition, foreign students may experience difficulty in communicating in the classroom because English is not their natural language.
There are other issues when considering going to a university in the United States. You will need to select a university that suits your needs; you will be required to get a student visa; and many schools may require you to take an exam to prove your knowledge of English. There is also the issue of whether you can obtain a scholarship or student loan. There is also a question of what you can do when school is not in session due to semester or trimester breaks and vacations.
What follows are some tips to prepare you to confront and overcome these issues as you prepare for your trip and attend a school.
Preparing for the Trip
— Give yourself time to prepare for the trip. People in the know say that a foreign student should begin preparing at least a full year prior to leaving. You will need time to find and then apply to universities, take tests like the English skilled exam mentioned above, gather and send necessary documents and get a visa.
— Start the process of getting your visa early. Remember you are dealing with a bureaucracy when it comes to obtaining a visa. Contact the U.S. Consulate and the U.S. Overseas Education Advising Office to begin the process.