Student Resources

Selecting a University

Important things to consider include:

Recognition of degree

In some countries, and in some professions, it is critical that your U.S. degree be "recognized" when you return home. Check with your government before coming to the U.S. to see if this is an issue for you.

HINT: While there are many universities that will be able to give you a degree, it is well worth your time and effort to find ones that truly match your ability, personality, budget, and goals.

Academic program

There are more than 500 major fields of study in the U.S., and no university offers every one of them. You will want to be sure that the university you select offers the academic program you want. This is less important for first-year undergraduate students who can change majors or institutions than it is for undergraduate students who are interested in specialized fields that require heavy course work or admission to the particular department (for example, some programs in music, architecture, or engineering) or for graduate students. The more focused you are on your academic goal, the easier it will be to select a university.

 
 

Selectivity

The U.S. has some universities that accept a very small percentage of those that apply and others that accept most applicants. Your task is to assess your academic ability (your rank in class, your school grades, and your scores on standardized tests can help you with this), learn about the selectivity of U.S. universities, and identify universities that will be appropriate for you. Here are some questions to ask to help determine an institution’s selectivity level:

  • Is the institution accredited? (It should be or you are likely to have trouble having your degree recognized.)
  • What percentage of applicants are accepted?
  • What is the range of test scores for recently enrolled students?
  • What is the faculty-student ratio?
  • What percentage of students who begin their studies at the institution graduate from that institution?
  • What percentage of faculty hold Ph.D. degrees?
 

Costs

Costs range from about US$15,000 to US$40,000 per year for tuition, fees, housing, books, health insurance, and living costs. Click here for more detailed information about Financing your U.S. Study.

Size

Universities vary in size of student body from widely; they may have 800 students or 40,000. At the smaller institutions, you will get to know many of the students and professors. At the larger institutions, you’ll have a greater range of course offerings and extra-curricular activities, but less personal attention.

International student population

More than 500,000 students from other countries are studying in the U.S., and many universities seek to maintain an international student population of 10-15%. You may want to ask about the number of international students on campus and/or the number of students from your own country who have chosen that institution.

Location

Universities can be found in quiet rural communities, orderly suburban locations, and cosmopolitan urban areas. While some students thrive on busy, crowded, hectic cities, others prefer quieter, calmer environments.

Climate

The U.S. is a large country with many different types of geography: deserts, coastal areas, mountainous regions, tropical climates, and flat plains. Some parts of the U.S. have four distinct seasons (winter, fall, spring, summer) and others have more moderate temperatures all year long.

Character

Each college or university has its own personality depending on its size, location, course and extracurricular offerings, selectivity, history, and student body. By reading about different institutions and by communicating with admissions offices, you will begin to learn about the "character" of the universities that interest you.