The United States of America commonly known as the United States (U.S.) or America is a constitutional federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. Forty-eight of the fifty states and the federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west.
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are tropical, as are the populated territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world’s tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South.
EDUCATION SYSTEM IN USA
American public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17.
About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled. The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, spending more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public universities.
The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. The majority of the world’s top universities listed by different ranking organizations are in the U.S. There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Americans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor’s degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees. The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%. The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.
System of Education in USA
STUDY IN USA
The US university system remains the world’s most popular destination for international students, welcoming a record of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year. So, what do all these students see in US universities that motivates them enough to travel so far in order to enroll at a US college? So the benefits of studying in USA are discussed below:
1. Study at high-quality institutions
It’s not a secret that many of the best universities in the world are located in the US. In fact, according to the QS World University Rankings, half of the top 10 best universities in the world are located in the US.
These are MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Caltech and the University of Chicago, but besides these well-known names, the US is home to hundreds of other prestigious universities and colleges. No matter in which state of the US you wish to study, you will have plenty of amazing choices to upgrade your education. The strong reputation of US universities will immediately transform you into an attractive candidate for future employers.
2. Choose from a broad range of programs
With over 4,500 US universities offering undergraduate degrees, and opportunities to combine various subjects as ‘majors’ and ‘minors’, the US is the place you go if you want to experiment with different classes and subjects. There is no other country in the world where you can find such a diverse range of programs and flexibility. You will be able to study some of the most innovative subjects and interact with well-known scholars who will guide you during your study years.
The huge number of US universities and colleges also means you have many options when it comes to choosing the kind of experience you want. Consider the university’s location, courses, accommodation, size, faculty, student body, tuition fees, sports programs, facilities and more.
3. Enjoy the US student lifestyle
If you’re saying that US campus life is not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about studying in the US, you’re probably lying. By attending a US university, you will get the chance to experience one of the most interesting cultures, but also interact with other students from all corners of the world and become truly international.
Every young student has dreamed at least once about living in the US, and the easiest way of making your dream come true is by traveling to the US for your studies. You can live on the university campus, join sports teams, clubs and fraternities or sororities, and have all the amazing experiences you’ve been dreaming about.
4. Improve your English skills
Does this even need more explanation? The current job market requires good levels of English for most international jobs. And what better way to acquire this skill than by immersing yourself in a culture where English is the primary language?
Even if you are already good at English, you will get a better understanding of the language and vocabulary by actually interacting with native speakers on a daily basis and by having to perform all of your daily activities and academic tasks in English.
5. Make friends from all corners of the world
Don’t come to study in the US if you are not a fan of diversity, novelty and interesting lifestyles. Here, you can experience the most vibrant campus life in the whole world. Given the fact that the US is the top choice for most international students, you should expect to meet people from all corners of the world on a daily basis.
Besides getting to know more cultures and interacting with interesting people, you will probably make lifelong connections and return home knowing that you’ve got new friendships that will last forever.
6. Get international experience for your CV
Being aware of the fact that US universities have a great reputation and are well-known for the quality of their education, it’s not surprising that companies are excited to welcome young people with US degrees.
By studying in the US, you will make the first step towards a successful international career. During your student years, you will also have the opportunity to gain experience in your field of study through the Optional Practical Training program. Studying abroad at a US university is perfect preparation for an international workplace, giving you the international experience which is sought by many employers.
7. Travel and gain a new perspective on the world
Studying abroad is clearly an interesting life experience altogether, but studying in a place so complex and varied as the United States is even more fascinating. Many international students say that studying in the US has helped them get out of their comfort zone, become more open-minded, and broaden their horizons.
Studying in the US will be a meaningful experience that will expand your view of the world and of your own life. You will not only grow professionally, but also personally. If that isn’t convincing enough for you, just think about the fact that you will be able to travel to numerous states in the US a lot more easily when you actually live in one.
After going through all these benefits, it is little wonder that so many students are choosing to study in the US. It will continue to be the top educational destination for international students and should be seriously considered by every applicant who is considering studying abroad. If you are one of them, I strongly recommend that you sign up for the QS #StudyinUSA Virtual Fair, to find out more about studying in the United States.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION
The basic eligibility criteria for seeking admission to a university/college/institution in the USA are:-
• Successful completion of international education equivalent to US secondary education (12 years)
• School mark sheets demonstrating completion of senior secondary education in the native nation
• Proven academic achievements demonstrating the ability to succeed in university level studies
• English Proficiency Test Scores.
• International Bachelor’s degree equivalent to an American four-year Bachelor’s degree, from an accredited university
• In case you have a three-year Bachelor’s degree or diploma, you can complete a qualifying Pre-Master’s program first
• English Proficiency Test Scores (may vary from university to university).
• Official documents for all colleges/universities attended
• Two letters of recommendation
• Relevant Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from a recognized university
• English Proficiency Test Scores.
• Work experience (as mentioned on the site of the university)
COST OF EDUCATION IN USA
Cost of Education in USA varies along with the species of course, institution and location. Majority of the cost to be borne by a student while studying in the country comprises of tuition fees of the course pursued by other expenses.
Following is the approximate estimate of Tuition fees for various levels of courses in USA:
Cost of Living in USA
International students should have genuine access to sufficient funds based on the assessment level of their Visa. This ensures students ability to make the most of their education and living experience in USA. Funds projected by the student should cover Tuition, Accommodation, Books, Travel and others.
ADMISSION TESTS REQUIRED TO STUDY IN USA
Most universities in the US require foreign applicants to take an English as a second language test, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) exams for undergraduates or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for postgraduates.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
TOEFL scores are accepted for both admission and visa procurement. It is one of the most accepted and most respected tests among universities, agencies and other institutions all around the world. TOEFL test content is 100% academic. The TOEFL iBTTM is given 30-40 times a year, at thousands of secure, Internet-based test sites around the globe. Whereas, the TOEFL Paper-based Test (or TOEFL PBT) is offered in areas where the internet based test is not available. It is given 6 times a year.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
IELTS Australia test is conducted in more than 35 countries. IELTS is jointly managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). It is conducted through more than 800 test centers and locations in over 130 countries.
The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)
SAT measures literacy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in college. This test assesses how well the test takers analyze and solve problems — skills they learnt in school that they will need in college. SAT is typically taken by high school students to get into undergraduate courses.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
GRE is another test required to be taken by students applying to graduate schools to pursue MA or MS. Increasingly, many business schools are also accepting GRE scores for the purpose to granting admission for MBA.
Applying to USA Institutions
The initial stage for higher education in USA is sending an application. A complete and precise application packet can help you attain admission in the best possible institution.
The following pre-requisites are to be detected before you apply:
1. Recommendation letters (from 3 lectures) – one letter from each lecturer.
2. GRE/TOEFL/GMAT/IELTS Score Xerox. (Also you have to report the test scores officially)
3. Transcripts (Bachelors Degree).
4. Bachelors Degree certificate (If available)
5. SSC/10th or Equivalent Certificate
6. 12th/ intermediate or Equivalent certificates
7. SOP (Statement of Purpose)
9. Study certificate or Job experience certificate
10. Photo Copies of first and last pages of your passport
11. Copies and proofs of all your other activities (Ex. Paper presentations, Your organizing skills in your symposiums etc.)
12. Other documents you have.
13. WES Evaluation (If the university requires)
Culture of USA
The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Aside from the Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors settled or immigrated within the past five centuries. Mainstream American culture is a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from Africa. More recent immigration from Asia and especially Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.
Student Visa for USA
1. Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
2. Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
3. Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
4. Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
5. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20 – Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish that you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
Your academic preparation, such as:
-Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
-Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
Post Study Work Rights
If you are an international student studying in the US, you have the opportunity to work part-time but remember that you are restricted by the terms of your visa. It is a MUST that you know all the requirements and restrictions concerning your visa!
US Employment Rules for F1 Students
Most international students in the United States hold an F-1 visa, which is the U.S. non-immigrant student visa. F-1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
1. On-Campus Employment
On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools do require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office prior to accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student’s first semester or year.
2. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
International students in the U.S. in valid F-1 immigration status are permitted to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status both during and after completion of their degree. Rules established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) govern the implementation of OPT, and all OPT employment requires prior authorization from USCIS and from your school’s International Student Office.
You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and you have been enrolled for at least a year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for your OPT EAD, and your OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US. Start early—USCIS takes up to 90 days to process your application—and make sure you work closely with your school’s International Student Office. As with everything you will do while in the U.S., permission is based on maintaining lawful F-1 status and your International Student Office is there to help you maintain that status throughout your stay.
3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an off-campus employment option for F-1 students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, the work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must awarded. And yes, you can get paid for CPT employment. Prior authorization by your school’s International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.
4. Severe Economic Hardship
Any F-1 student suffering “severe economic hardship” as defined by USCIS is eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time during breaks.
To be eligible under “severe economic hardship”, a student must:
1. Be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
2. Be in good academic standing
3. Provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control
4. Show that on-campus employment is neither available nor sufficient
5. Make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying
5. Employment with an International Organization
The final category of employment for international students in the U.S. on F-1 visas is employment with a “recognized international organization.” To qualify, an organization must be on the official State Department list, and listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations. Because it does not have the universal application of OPT or CPT, this category of employment is often overlooked. Only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations are eligible. However, for those lucky students who do have such sponsorship, there are clear benefits of this employment category.