The United States has some of the world’s finest colleges and universities. Worldwide, they are reputed for quality programs, faculty, facility, and resources. U.S. higher education accreditation systems are in place to ensure quality standards.
The U.S. higher education system offers the world’s largest choice in types of institutions, academic and social environments, entry requirements, degrees, and fields of study. Currently, there are more than 4,000 institutions of higher education in the United States.
Considering a U.S. degree as an investment in your future, it offers great value for the money. There is a wide range of college costs, as well as some excellent scholarships available from colleges and universities.
In the 2016-17 academic year, there were 1,078,882 international students studying in the United States. With 11,607 students from Nepal, a 20.1% increase from the previous year, Nepal ranks as the 13th largest country of origin of international students in the United States (Source: Open Doors 2017 Report on International Educational Exchange. New York: Institute of International Education, New York).
Applying to U.S. Colleges and Universities
The terms “college,” “university,” and “school” are used interchangeably when we refer to degree-granting institutions offering higher education in the United States. For simplicity, we’ll use the term “college.”
To apply to colleges in the United States, you should start 12-18 months in advance of when you plan to begin your studies. If you are an undergraduate applicant (applying for a bachelor’s degree), starting you application process by the beginning of Class 12 will help ensure that you do not have a gap year between Class 12 and the beginning of your undergraduate program in the U.S. Similarly, graduate applicants, those applying for a master’s or a PhD, should also start their application process 12-18 months in advance.
Why does it take so long to apply to American colleges?
In addition to having to carefully research and choose colleges, prepare for and take the standardized exams, you will need to meet each college’s application deadline date. Some deadlines – especially for colleges that are competitive and colleges that offer good scholarships – are eight or nine months in advance of the start of class.
There are two semesters for which you can apply for admission, the fall semester (classes start in August or September) and the spring semester (classes start in January). All colleges offer admission in fall, as it is the beginning of the academic year. Not all colleges offer admissions in spring. If you are searching for a scholarship, the best semester to apply for is fall (generally, not much scholarship is available in spring). The application deadline date depends on which semester you apply for, and which college you are choosing.
To apply to U.S. colleges, here’s what you should do:
Since no bachelor’s program in the U.S. is shorter than four years, a student intending to join a graduate program in the U.S. should have at least sixteen years of education in the relevant field. Students who have 2 or 3-year bachelor’s degrees or who are currently enrolled in a bachelor’s program have three options to choose from:
Complete a master’s degree in the relevant field and then apply for graduate study in the U.S. In some cases, students will apply for the master’s program again and in some cases, depending upon the institution, students can directly apply for the PhD program. Contact institutions directly to know which program you are eligible for.
Transfer to an undergraduate program in the U.S. With this option, you can earn an undergraduate degree from the U.S. However, this option could be costly for some students as it might take between one to three years to complete the undergraduate degree. It can take up to three years because different colleges have different graduation requirements and you may not earn transfer credit for some of the coursework you have completed in Nepal.
Students are encouraged to weigh Option 1 and Option 2 and opt for the one that is best for them.
A third option is available for students applying for an MBA in the U.S. You could apply for a bridge program (sometimes referred to as a pre-MBA) in the U.S. Very few colleges provide such bridge programs and you have to contact the college directly to find out the requirements for admission. A bridge program generally runs for one to one and a half years and you generally will need to complete your MBA at the same school.
Studying in the United States is a big decision, and you must consider whether it is an appropriate one. Evaluate if you are a suitable candidate by considering the following factors which we call pre-requisites for studying in the USA.
Studying in the U.S. is expensive. Colleges and universities in the U.S. cost between $12,000 and $65,000 per year. A bachelor’s program is typically a four year course of study, a master’s program is usually two years, and a PhD program is generally four to eight years. If you do not have this amount of money available, you will need to apply for a scholarship.
If you have a strong academic record, your chances of admission and scholarship at U.S. colleges and universities increase.
In order to succeed as a student in the U.S., it is integral to have a strong command over English.
Most U.S. colleges and universities require TOEFL. Some undergraduate institutions additionally require SAT or ACT. Some graduate programs require GRE or GMAT.