Student Cover’s guide to studying in the US: Part 1 – Getting Acquainted

Welcome to Part 1 of Student Cover’s guide to studying in the U.S. In this 5-part series of blogs, Student Cover will try to provide all the relevant information that one would need to fulfill his or her dream of studying in the U.S.. So let’s get started.

Taking the first step

Almost all of us have, at some point of time or the other in our live, had a desire to study abroad. The driving force behind this desire is a dream of a prosperous future.

However, as the saying goes, “every great journey starts with the great first step”. If one wants to achieve his or her goal of studying abroad, one must begin early. If one wants to go to US pursue a bachelor’s degree, one should start after matriculation itself. If one aims to pursue a post-graduate degree, then the student should begin preparing for it at least one year before. Starting early will give the student ample time to prepare for it.

Getting yourself Acquainted

If one wants to reach a destination, one must know which path to take. One knows which road leads to the destination only when he or she has information. So the first part of the journey is acquainting oneself with available programs and educational institutions and what are their admission requirements.

Degree Programs in the U.S.

In the U.S., 4 types of degree courses are offered by educational institutions. They are Associate Degree, Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees and Doctoral Degrees.

Associate Degree: These are 2-year programs which a 12th pass Indian student can undertake in
the U.S. These degrees are also called high school diplomas and are offered in the field of
Arts (Associate of Arts or A.S), Science (A.S) or Applied Science (A.AS). These are intended to provide necessary training including vocational training to prepare students for entry level jobs in the U.S.. Community Colleges and technical Schools offer such degrees. Enrollments in most community colleges are open and do not require standardized test scores.

Note: Such degrees are diploma equivalent and should not be mistaken for bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree: These are regular undergraduate degrees that are given in the field of Arts (B.A), Science (BSc), Fine Art (BFA) and Applied Science (BASc). However, unlike in India, their course duration is 4 years instead of 3 years. Engineering courses like B. Tech fall under the category of Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) Most common standardized tests for Bachelor’s Degree programs are SAT and ACT.

Master’s Degree: These are regular Master’s degree course and usually take 2 years to complete although, some programs can be of 1 year. The degrees are offered in the field of Arts (MA) & Fine Arts (MFA), Science (MSc) & Business Administration (MBA). At the end of this program, a student is required to write and submit a Thesis. The most common standardized tests for Master’s Degree programs are GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT.

Doctoral Degree Programs: These are research degree programs. Students, after completing these programs get a PhD degree. One needs to have a post-graduate degree to get admission in PhD. Some PhD programs may also require an applicant to provide scores of standardized tests. Some of the doctoral degrees offered are Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Juris Doctor (J.D) and Doctor of Medicine (M.D).

Universities and Colleges

There are various ways of choosing a university. Before moving ahead, one should make a list of at least 10 universities or colleges in the U.S. that one plans to apply in future.

List based on RANK: One can prepare a list solely on the basis of a college or university’s domestic or global rankings. For that, one can go to any reputed University ranking website and get the list of top ranked universities or colleges in the U.S. Getting admission in any of these would surely kickstart one’s professional career.

List based on CORE COMPETENCY: A list can be prepared for Universities/Colleges which excel in certain program as compared to others. For example, Harvard Business School is one of the top ranked institutions for MBA but it may not be highly ranked for other course streams like Arts and Sciences

List based on Likelihood of Selection: One may make a list, although a subjective but very practical list, for Universities/Colleges where getting admission is more likely than Universities/Colleges featuring in lists mentioned above. These institutions may not score well in terms of quality as it may also have mediocre students or faculty members.

There is also a tendency for students from developing nations like India to check universities based on “Cost of Education”. One should definitely avoid making such list as the cost of education is anyway very high in the U.S.. A student may have to spend $75,000 for MBA in a reputed university as compared to a less reputed one but at the end, that student will get better job and career opportunities in future.

 

Let’s Wrap Up!

To study in the U.S., it is essential to start early. Starting early gives ample time to the student to prepare for admission. In the U.S., Universities/Colleges offer 4 types of degrees – Associate, Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral. A student must make a list of at least 10 universities where he or she is going to apply.

Disclaimer: The content of the following article is based on the personal research of the writer. Readers are advised to exercise discretion. Student Cover will not be liable for any wrongful interpretation of the content of this article.

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