Friday, June 6, 2014

New Research Reveals Informed Decisions to Study in the USA are Important in Setting Realistic Expectations

We have often emphasized that doing your own research on U.S. universities is crucial. You should never have to pay someone to do it for you and it’s a great way to understand what aspects of the university are most important to you. However, many students may overlook a few crucial areas that we want to cover here today.

A recent study by WES and NAFSA looked into what reasons caused international undergraduate students to leave the university that they first enrolled in before completing their degree. Interestingly, the top three reasons for dissatisfaction reported by students relate only to financial dimensions:
  1. access to jobs or internships (37 percent), 
  2. affordability (36 percent), 
  3. and availability of scholarships (34 percent).

Dissatisfaction among students happens due to a mismatch in their expectations. If your expectations are better set with informed choices there would be less dissatisfaction with your college choice. So, are some of the reasons listed above important to you also? Let’s discuss how you can find more information about each of the three areas above.

Access to jobs or internships

Students on F-1 or J-1 visas have restrictions and limitations on being employed in the U.S. This is because as a student, your most important reason for being in the U.S. is for study and not for employment. U.S. colleges and universities are also not responsible in finding you a job during school or after graduation. Many of those decisions lie with the student by being informed. We know that gaining work experience in the U.S. can be beneficial for many students. So, here are some tips to gaining employment in the U.S.
  1. Contact your university’s career service office for guidelines to being employed as an international student.
  2. Be familiar with immigration and visa regulations.
  3. Network with alumni, who are in your field of interest and were an international student also.
  4. Get help with resume writing, cover letter writing, and interview tips.
  5. Attend job fairs and ask employers if they are looking to hire international students. 


Studying abroad in the U.S. can seem like an expensive investment. However, there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., which means that there will most likely be a school that fits your financial needs. Don’t let affordability be a dissatisfying factor. For instance, in recent years, there is a growing trend of students coming to the U.S. and studying at a two-year community college and then transferring to a four-year institution. Most U.S. universities follow a liberal arts curriculum where students are required to take general education courses that are outside of their major interest to help broaden their overall academic perspective. Most of these general education courses can also be taken at a community college at a much more affordable tuition rate and then transferred to a four-year institution. This is a great way to make your ultimate U.S. degree more affordable.

Availability of Scholarships

Similar to above, obtaining scholarships is a way to make your studying abroad experience more affordable. Searching and applying for scholarships will take time and effort. Funds for scholarships can come from many different sources such as:
  • Governments
  • Foundations
  • Corporations
  • Institutions
  • International organizations

The first place to search for scholarships is through your local government. Make sure to check if there are any scholarships being offered through your home country and if there are none start looking elsewhere. Another option is to look for scholarships once you are already admitted into a university in the U.S. by contacting the university’s financial aid office.

Doing the research will help you make informed decisions. If any of the listed reasons were also your concerns, make sure to ask the admissions office specific questions that you have. As a final point, having the right information will help you find the best fit school. Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to leave us a comment below!

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