The United States of America has for long been one of the foremost superpowers in the world. It has, over the years, amalgamated a wide diversity of cultures and races into its mainstream. It has a variety of geographical terrains and climates across its length and breadth and the flora and fauna to complement it. It ranks among the top five countries in terms of its size and by far the biggest economies in the world.

California, one of the 50 states of the USA, itself has a GDP that is higher than Brazil or even France for that matter. English, Spanish, German, French are just a few of the languages spoken across the land. A country brought to life by immigrants, the USA is a dream destination of people around the world. Boston, Seattle, Bellevue in Washington, San Jose, Newton in Massachusetts, Pleasanton in California are just a few of the most sought after cities to live in the country.

Over and above an abundance of natural resources, the USA also has some of the best and most advanced infrastructure in the world. Its research facilities have hardly any parallel around the globe and it boasts of some of the most significant and crucial breakthroughs in science, technology and art. With a population of over 325 million, USA is also home to some of the biggest companies in the world including a vast majority of Fortune 500 companies. All in all, the United States of America, represents the land of dreams for millions around the world.

America has some of the most amazing education institutions in the world and its research facilities are second to none. The universities and colleges here regularly rank among the top 10, 50 and 100 of the world. Be it for science, technology or any other courses, they have some of the most experienced and credible faculties and teachers in the world. Graduate students here get the opportunity to work with celebrated experts in their field and be a part of exclusive research.

Students doing their post-graduate degree also have the option of earning while they learn. The universities provide a friendly and congenial environment perfectly tailored for learning. There are over 3800 colleges and universities here and they adhere to high standards of learning facilities and provide top-of-the-line materials and training. A number of companies make it a priority to recruit from the colleges in the USA. An education in this country not only ensures that you know exactly what you need to know about your chosen field, but also assures you of a comfortable job. This is exactly why a majority of students around the world choose to come to the USA to create a stellar future for themselves.

The United States of America provides highly distinct and innovative education systems. It provides them a high quality of learning and research opportunities over and above recruitment support and network building opportunities.

International students can apply for a four year undergraduate course and later continue with a two year masters program. International students, depending upon their credentials also can directly apply for their masters by research and/or their doctorate program. Be it studying engineering, science courses, humanities courses or even a doctoral thesis, USA provides some of the best education opportunities in the world.

There are some basic common denominators in the application procedure for every university in the USA. Language proficiency tests like IELTS and TOEFL are some of the most important aspects of this application process. Those hoping to study in post graduate courses apart from MBA need to appear for GRE while those desirous of studying for an MBA need to appear for GMAT.

Undergraduates need an IELTS score of 6.0 or a TOEFL IBT score of 79, while those applying for post graduate degrees need an IELTS score of 6.0 to 6.5 or a TOEFL IBT score of 90. Undergraduates need to appear for SAT in order to apply to graduate courses and they need a SAT score of over 1200. Post graduate aspirants need to appear for a GRE and need a mandatory score of 290-300. Those hoping to study for their MBA degree need to appear for GMAT and require a score of 450 to 500.

The application package needs to be sent to the universities strictly in accordance to their mandated guidelines. Academic performance records need to be provided in clear detail along with valid scores for all the necessary foreign going competitive examinations. There are two main intake sessions for universities in the USA – fall and spring. The fall intake starts in late August and ends in late December while the spring session starts in Jannuary and ends in early May. The deadlines for each intake are highly strict and need to be carefully monitored. Following the guidelines is crucial to obtain the requisite I-20 form from the respective universities.

Higher education costs in the USA, unlike India, can cost a pretty penny. Private universities in the USA usually charge a higher tuition fees than public colleges. Public colleges have a huge support in terms of their reliance on state funds. The higher costs charged by universities there is one of the reasons why they focus so much on the quality of education, infrastructure and career defining opportunities they provide the students.

The yearly expenditure for a student in a college in the USA, including living expenses and tuition, can range from $15,000 to $35,000. Top colleges can charge up to $60,000 per year in tuition and other ancillary costs. There are a number of scholarships which are also offered to foreign students based on merit and need. The application process for these scholarships may vary depending upon the university or state where the student is applying. These scholarships are usually government funded or even supported by private entities.

A student visa is mandatory for a student aspiring to study in the USA. It is important to note that the student must be accepted and approved by the school or program they have applied for. The educational institution will provide the necessary documentation for the visa process. The application needs to be made within 120 days from the start date of the I-20 and can travel within 30 days from the start date of the I-20.

A F-1 visa is the most common format of a student visa. If you are going to study at an approved school like a university, college, secondary school or even a language program, you need an F-1 visa. This format of visa is also required if you are enrolled in a course of study that takes up more than 18 hours per week. For those planning on joining a non-academic or vocational course in the USA then you may need an M-1 visa and not an F-1. US law does not permit an F-1 visa for students who are admitted in a publically funded adult education program.

Rules for students to work are strict in the USA. International students are not allowed to work during the first year in the country. The candidates can, however, get part-time jobs with special conditions after the first year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has laid out strict guidelines for F-1 visa holders to get work in the US. On-campus employment continues to remain the best bet for international students and are easily available. These jobs may or may not be related to what you are studying.

Students can be allowed to work full-time during their breaks and holidays, provided they are on good terms with their faculty. A student can only work 20 hours a week. Another thing to take care is that the job must not take away a job from a US citizen. Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may also be applicable to you and will be closely governed by the USCIS.

Most good universities also have a strong placement block which help students to get placed once they are done with their course. A student is also expected to build their network during their time at the college or university and find ideal employment opportunities for themselves. Finding a job in the US is all about being proactive. The country is a veritable hub of opportunities and nailing the right one is all a matter of focused effort and grabbing the chance when it appears.

What is the meaning of ‘transfer students’?

Transfer students are those who have completed at least 2 years of their degree or diploma in any country and apply for a transfer to a US based university. The number of years that are waived off under this scheme depend on a number of factors. For starters it will depend on the courses covered in India and the grades for the same. It is rare for a student to get an exact transfer for the credits.

Is it okay for me to apply to only the top ten universities?

A student should keep in mind that the top ten universities have an acceptance ration of only 1% to 4%. A student should always try and improve their chances of admission. To be on the safer side it is important that the students should also apply to other universities offering good programs. The top ten universities always have incredibly stringent entry requirements. Students should keep in mind that rankings could be world-wide, region based or even subject/course based. It is important that, if a student is searching for a ranked university, they search for a university ranked by the course.

Having completed 15 years of education in India, can a student get admission for MBA directly in the US?

American Universities usually require 16 years of education to gain an admission into an MBA or other graduation programme. Students are advised to complete a master’s degree of at least one year before taking admission in an American university. Some of the top ranked universities may give a student with 15 years of education admission provided they have 2 to 3 years of relevant work experience. Rao Consultants has a comprehensive list of universities and colleges that will enrol a student after 15 years of education directly or with work experience.

Is financial assistance available?

Financial assistance is available more often than not, however, getting the same in the first semester can prove difficult. There is a lot of competition for financial assistance and one needs to have a very good academic and test score to qualify for the same. There are a number of instances where students have been able to secure full financial assistance. At Rao Consultants we will try our level best to help you secure financial assistance based on your academics and test scores.

Is there a possibility of shifting schools once I get there?

As soon as you are in the US you are governed by the USCIS rule. This rule mandates that you cannot change the school before completing one semester at the school. Make your choice carefully to begin with in order to avoid problems at a later stage.

Does the US only accept TOEFL scores or are IELTS scores valid as well?

A student can take the IELTS exam as well since over 2500 of the top universities have started accepting it as well.

When is the ideal time to start applying to Universities? What are the different start dates?

If a student is desirous of applying to universities in the US they need to start preparing for the same from a year in advance. This is very advantageous to students who want to apply for scholarships. The common intake dates are the Fall session in August/September and the Spring session in January/February.

Can I earn while I learn?

Students are only allowed to work 20 hours per week on-campus when the classes are on. They can work full-time during the vacation period.