Studying overseas requires careful preparation. In this article, you will learn what to expect, what to prepare for, and what you need to anticipate when going to study in the United States.
1. 9-12 months before your studies begin
Plan your finances
Education in the United States is more expensive for foreigners than for citizens. For example, the tuition and fees for one semester at the University of Michigan for international students is US $41,327, while state residents only have to pay US $14,522, not including living expenses, required textbook purchases, and other fees.
Think about the possible sources of financing for your education: personal funds, scholarships and grants, part-time work on campus, and freelancing. You can also contact the admissions office of your university or college regarding different sources of financial assistance available to you.
Gifted students can apply for both federal and university scholarships as well as grants from private companies and foundations. Of course, not all scholarship programs will be able to fully cover your expenses. However, even a small amount of financial aid will reduce the pressure on your budget.
Prepare the documents
Almost all American colleges and universities require applicants to provide academic transcripts, letters of recommendation from teachers, language test results, etc. Make sure you have all these documents.
Check out your employment options
As we mentioned above, one of your sources of income can be part-time employment. You can work both on and off campus, but you should know that F-1 visa students are not allowed to work off-campus during their first year of studies. Starting from the second year, you will be able to take paid internships off campus:
– Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – Optional Practical Training (OPT) – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
Before you start any internship, you should contact your academic advisor at your university. According to visa regulations, all training must be directly related to the curriculum.
2. 4-9 months before your studies begin
Pass the medical examination
Before you leave, you will have to get medical insurance and provide proof of immunization. Make sure that you have all the necessary vaccinations and have filled all prescribed. If you’ve missed any required vaccinations, be sure to get them. Remember that the interval between vaccinations should be at least one month.
In addition, American universities will only be able to provide minimal medical care. If you have to take any medication, you should see a doctor to get a prescription.
It is likely to be cheaper to buy prescriptions in your home country than in America. Make sure that the expiry dates of your medications are as far away as possible and that your name is clearly indicated on them.
Apply for a visa
After getting your enrolment letter, ask your university about the process of issuing your I-20 form. This document reflects information about your enrolment and terms of study in your US university or college. This form should contain the following data:
Your name as written on your passport
Your date and country of birth, program of study, graduation date, date of departure, and financial information
A signature, in ink, from the university or college’s official representative
Carefully check your I-20 for any mistakes. Note that this form can be replaced in case you need to leave the country, your date of study completion has changed, or the form has been lost or destroyed.
After receiving your I-20, you can apply for a visa at the American embassy in your country. If you plan to study in a vocational training program, you will need to apply for an M-1 visa. Academic and language program students will need to apply for an F-1 visa.
You cannot apply for a student visa more than 120 days before the start of your training.
Buy plane tickets
You can often save a lot by buying tickets in advance.
Send letters to the universities and colleges that you didn’t choose
You may receive several letters of admission from US institutions. Do not forget or be too lazy to send letters of regret to these institutions, notifying them that you do not plan to study there.
3. 3 months before your studies begin
To study abroad, you will need to have health insurance. You can contact an insurance company directly or ask your agent for help. Many colleges and universities have specific rules regarding insurance coverage, so make sure you check with the international student office for all relevant information.
Plan your stay
Some colleges and universities in the United States require first-year students to live on campus. You should research in advance how to reserve your spot in a dormitory. Depending on the size and style of room, the estimated cost of living on campus is US $10,000 – $15,000 per 9 months.
4. 1-2 months before your studies begin
Pay your tuition and fees
Ask your university’s admission officer or international student office for bank transfer details.
Sign up for an orientation session
The sooner you sign up for an orientation session, the more choice you’ll have of the classes and subjects that you would like to include in your curriculum.
Buy prescribed medications
Please note that all medicines you carry should have your name on them.
Pack your luggage and make copies of all necessary documents
Organize your airport pick-up and receive confirmation of your booking
Exchange some local currency
Obtain an international driver’s license or an English translation of your driver’s license
Other useful links about studying in the United States: