Updated: Aug 27, 2019
You've heard of the big names. Harvard. Yale. NYU. UCLA. Brown. You've seen what the campus looks like online. You've checked out the course catalog. You've even connected with friends studying abroad at some of the top universities in America. But as an international student, who will spend nearly four times as much money as the average domestic, in-state resident, do you really know what to look for when choosing a college?
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Let's do the homework. According to the 2018 Open Doors Report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), you will be joining the ranks of 1.09 million international students choosing from more than 1800 different majors, at a price tag of $42.4 billion dollars in tuition, room and board, and other expenses. In order to make your college experience a success, and reap the maximum benefits from your study abroad, Kids Go West recommends asking these 3 key questions before choosing your university.
#1. Is Financial Aid Available for International Students?
If you don't ask, you don't get. That's the rule of life and the same philosophy applies here. Contrary to popular belief, many colleges and universities in America actually do offer financial aid to international students. In fact, universities like Columbia University in New York, which ranks in a tie at No. 3 among National Universities in the 2019 Best Colleges rankings, offers 100% fully paid tuition coverage for international students. Columbia's website states "We guarantee to meet 100 percent of all admitted first-year students' demonstrated financial need for all four years, regardless of citizenship."
Other Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all offer need blind scholarships, which means they do not consider your ability to pay as part of their acceptance policy - if you've got the brains and talent to get in, they are willing to offer international students up to 100% fully paid tuition coverage. Colleges like Rice University in Houston, Texas, Amherst College in Massachusetts, and the University of Miami in Florida offer generous partial or fully paid tuition scholarships for international students.
With the increasing costs of tuition, any assistance you can get in terms of scholarships, grants, and financial aid will help. The International Student's Guide to American Colleges profiles 176 American colleges and does an amazing job of helping you find the perfect college based on your preferences and personality, while providing valuable advice on securing admission and financial aid. Another excellent resource is The Ultimate Scholarship Guide 2020, which is quite literally your ultimate guide to accessing on over 1.5 million dollars available in scholarships and college awards, based on everything from career goals and academics to talent, religion, and ethnicity.
#2. Which University Will Help Me Get Hired After I Graduate?
The ultimate goal of going to college abroad is to improve your prospects of finding a job after you graduate. But where you choose to go to college can have a significant impact on your ability to get hired post-college. The right university, and its job placement and career guidance programs, can connect you with key companies for job opportunities.
Stand out universities like New York's Syracuse University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania boast some of the highest job placement statistics in the country, with nearly 90 - 100% of graduates employed in full time jobs just 6 months after graduation at multinational, multi-million dollar companies like Google, Ernest & Young, JP Morgan. Even the smaller, lesser known colleges and community colleges offer free job placement services for its students.
Online Schools Center offers an excellent guide to American colleges with the best career placement services available to students.
Konkeros 2019: An International Student's Guide to Finding Employment in the US is another great find that offers key insights and advice for international students on securing a job in the U.S. after college, including issues like handling interview questions about immigration status and marketing yourself to prospective employers.
#3. What is my Post College Earning Potential?
It is all about the money, after all. What kind of salary can you expect to earn with your shiny, new college degree? Taking the time to research how much graduates of University X actually earn can make or break your decision on where to attend college. How do the salaries of alumni from University X compare to University Y?
Utilizing amazing, (and free to use) comprehensive resources like the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard provides up to date information like college costs, graduation rates, debt, and post-college earnings. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education's blog Homeroom published a post on the top "23 Schools with Low Costs that lead to High Incomes" which features exactly this type of data.
A university education abroad is one of the most rewarding investments you can make for your future. But do your homework first before choosing where to invest. The information is out there, you just need to know where to look.
What other critical questions do you think international students need to ask before choosing a college abroad? Let us know what you think in the comments below!