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How to choose a University in the United States

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The choice of University is one of the key strategic decisions for your future career, and it must be approached thoroughly. Universities differ from one another according to many factors, the main of which are presented in this section. Naturally the choice of the University will be held in parallel with the program selection, and you need in General to understand, what specialty you intend to study at the University.

Consistently use the criteria below to determine the US University that best suits you.

If you have any questions – they can ask the representatives of universities assigned to work with Russian students. This can be done on the pages of American universities.

Working on the selection of the perfect option you can instruct us, if you order a personal selection of University and program.

Criteria for choosing a University in the United States

CRITERION 1: Ranking of American universities

University rankings can serve as a good guide when choosing a place of study. We advise you to pay attention to the position of American universities in the following world rankings: Quacquarelli Symonds (QS ranking), Times Higher Education (THE) and Shanghai ranking (Academic Ranking of World Universities). In addition, you should examine and position specific faculties: the University may not stand out in the overall ranking, but to lead in your subject area.

In order to assess the importance of the place in ranking, you need to understand what factors are considered in the calculations: the quality of the material base, high research activity, the number of known scientists, cultural figures, awards and discoveries. Not all students these are the key factors in the choice of University, so it is not necessary to remove from the accounts of the universities, which were not included in these competitive lists. In addition, the higher ranking position of the University, the harder it is for him to do, and the higher the cost of studying in it. There are questions to the universities? Please check all that are important to you, the representatives you are interested in American universities. They will be happy to help!

CRITERION 2: Location and type of organization University

Private vs. State

American universities are private, state, and local (state-owned). The shape depends strongly on the cost of education for both local and foreign students. As a rule, state universities tuition is cheaper, but the larger private universities offer more scholarships. It is believed that to study at a private US University is more prestigious than state, but among the leading universities in the country are those, and others.

University vs. College

Another organizational structure of American universities – the universities and colleges of higher education. Regardless of formal name, the University is called a University, offering all levels of higher education and leading research activities. Colleges also teach only bachelors and often have a narrower set of disciplines. The colleges can be independent educational institutions, and enter into the structure of major universities.

If you aim for an academic career, the University will provide you with more options than College. In addition, research areas of University education is considered more prestigious.

Subject specialization

Large research universities usually offer a wide range of disciplines at a good level. However, even the leading universities have the reputation of the leaders in a particular area, for example, Harvard is particularly known for law and medical school in Berkeley in the environmental field. Of course, this does not mean weakness of other faculties in these universities, but you should pay attention to those universities that are strong in your area of interest.

Some colleges spetsializiruyutsya on one or two directions. They are technical, agricultural, creative, and humanitarian.


Not decisive, but important factor is the location of the University, the presence of the campus, its accessibility, climate, nearness of large cities or natural sites. If you are attracted to large cities, keep in mind that the cost of living in them is quite high. If your University is in a neighboring small town, then you will save on expenses, but to the center of the city can be reached quite easily.

CRITERION 3: Value study

The cost of education depends on all these factors: position of the University in world rankings, the specialty you have chosen, the organizational form of the University (private universities and universities usually are more expensive than state universities and colleges), location.

One of the ways to reduce the cost of training – training in the biennial community College. This is a professional school, after which you can immediately enter the third year of a bachelor degree (subject to sufficient academic progress). Training in community colleges are significantly cheaper than universities, so if rational planning, you can unlearn the first two years of their program at a reduced cost.

A list of universities offering low-cost training in the US where foreign students also can receive scholarships and grants, see here. Specify the details of the representatives you are interested in American universities on the pages of these universities. They will be happy to help you!

CRITERION 4: Scholarships

According to statistics, the edition of the USNews only 8% of foreigners receiving a bachelor's degree in the U.S., is fully enrolled through scholarships. But do not despair: in addition to the support universities can seek funding from various governmental and private organizations in the United States and in your home country. For example, in Russia the state scholarship program “Global education”, Kazakhstan - “Bolashak”scholarship.

If you are applying for a scholarship, your application for admission must be made very carefully, even for a University with a small competition for a place. To assist in the compilation of the most compelling applications for admission and scholarship, you can order our services for admission to a foreign University.

CRITERION 5: the Level of entrance requirements

Among the entrance requirements are typically specified minimum scores in the certificate, on standardized exams SAT and ACT and test of English proficiency TOEFL or IELTS.

The higher admission requirements for programs of American universities, the not only harder to do, but:

  • harder to learn,
  • above the level of ambition and the progress of students (most often),
  • higher salaries of graduates (most often).

Examine entry requirements on pages programs of US universities and send clarification questions to the universities directly from the pages you are interested programs.

CRITERION 6 : ethnic composition of students

American universities willing to accept foreign students in the country are constantly trained about one million people came from abroad. Some programs or universities are particularly popular among students of the same or of a different nationality. If you have it – an important factor, ask for statistics on the ethnic composition of students program you are interested in the representatives of the University.

Need help? Order a personal selection of universities and programs in the United States.

Watch the video of our founder Jana Drapkina-Uehara on the choice of the University abroad.

Useful information about choosing a University in the United States

In US universities focuses not only the intellectual life of the country, within their walls every year millions of begin successful careers. The choice of University will determine your future life and professional activities. Perhaps this is one of the most important decisions in life, and, of course, it is very well thought out.

To ensure that you get the most from training in the US, we will tell you what is important to pay attention to when choosing an American University.

Where to start the selection of universities in America?

The choice of the University in any case carried out in parallel with the program selection. And this is logical: in order to proceed to the choice of the University, you need in General to understand which program you would like to go. At the stage of initial consideration of the content and cost of the programs you have already probably will have some preferences for the universities. And now is the time to explore that can offer the universities as a whole, to prioritize, to decide where to prepare the application to keep multiple backup and to weed out unsuitable.

Criteria for choosing a University in the United States

The key to determine the choice of University will help answer the following questions:

1. The position of the University in the overall rankings and the rankings by subject area.

Ranking position of the University can only serve as the common reference point for people who just started to the choice of programs and universities. When you work with ratings it is important to remember that getting the University in world rankings in any position, even on the 500-th place, speaks to the high quality of his work - this also applies to research and teaching. In the world there are tens of thousands of universities, so in the top 500 get better.

That can bring the career of the student studying at the University, does not occupy the top lines in the rankings, can be read here.

2. University public or private?

As a rule, state universities tuition is cheaper, but the larger private universities offer more scholarships. In addition, the Americans believe that to study at a private US University is more prestigious than in the state. If the University is not very famous, it is best to check its accreditation. One of the examples of the best private universities in the United States- northeastern University, included in the list of the 40 best universities in the country "Top 40 National Universities in the USA".

3. What levels of learning offers a US University and what is its subject specialization

In the USA there are several types of higher education institutions, higher education colleges and universities. Typically, colleges only teach at the undergraduate, master's degree or PhD have to go to University.

The colleges where you can obtain first higher education can be as separate schools, and to enter into the structure of major universities. Prefer University College is in several cases:

  • are you planning to continue training in a magistracy in the United States just after the U.S. bachelor's degree;
  • you expect a scientific or academic career in the universities of the USA you will be able to find the necessary material and technical base of laboratories, clinics etc.;
  • you want to get the most prestigious education;
  • the colleges typically cheaper than studying in US universities.

Read more about the difference between University and College in USA can be found here.

With regard to subject specialization, in large research universities, as a rule, it is possible to study almost all subjects. It is important to remember that the University may not be equally strong throughout. Even at Harvard, the University №1 in the world, education experts and employers particularly value programs in law and medicine - that is definitely not a lack of quality of his other programs. Pay attention to the universities that are strong in your area of interest. For example, the State University of Oregon takes the 4th place in the USA on the teaching of robotics (according to "Grad School Hub 2016").

Specialized universities can be divided into several large groups:

  • technical
  • agricultural,
  • creative
  • liberal arts and Humanities,
  • universities with multiple specialties, who sometimes surprise you with their door but it just so happened at this University due to historical reasons

4. The size of the school, States: big or small

Universities with a total enrolment of about 30,000 is considered high. In small high schools is learning about 5,000 students. As a rule, smaller and more homely, cosy and U.S. liberal arts colleges.

5. The campus location

Of course, not decisive, but important point is the campus location, its accessibility, proximity to or remoteness from major cities. For example, to live and study in new York is much more expensive than in the neighboring state of new Jersey, to get from which in new York is not difficult. In new Jersey has top-rated universities.

6. The infrastructure of the campus

Almost every campus USA has its own flavor: this is a great environment and beautiful nature creates unique conditions for practicing certain types of sports and recreation, ocean, mountains, lakes and forests; somewhere is an incredible laboratory, manufacturing and industrial facilities, including nuclear power plants and submarines; somewhere unique architecture, libraries, museums, hospitals, theatres, stadiums and sports centers, publishing houses and television.

We should also pay attention to the everyday facilities and services campus: types of premises, how long they were doing repairs or updates, as arranged spaces for collaborative and individual study and recreation, what are meal plans and services offered. Also don't forget to specify what time frame you need to reserve housing.

7. The General atmosphere in the American University and on campus

Comfortable living environment is an important factor for the student. But equally important culture of behavior and communication, adopted in the University, the General atmosphere, the presence of international environment. Find out how at the first acquaintance with the campus and full integration into the University community provides high school freshmen, who came from other countries. Universities always help new students in the initial adaptation!

With regard to issues of personal safety, and General American campuses - the place is well protected and calm, with round the clock student support services, health centres and excellent transport links, which often goes even at night. It is also important to note that alcohol and Smoking are prohibited in the majority of campuses in the United States.

7. Extracurricular activities students

US universities applaud extracurricular activities and offer the greatest opportunity for the development of skills, talents and personal potential of students. In the section on student life on the University websites have lists of student organizations. In fact, they have much more influence on University life than you would think. For example, student organizations are quite able to protest the increase in tuition fees or rent, to organize large-scale festivals and other events and publish campus Newspapers, etc.

Separately, we must mention the so-called Greek societies, an elite collegiate male and female groups whose names consist of letters of the Greek alphabet. They take into their ranks the most prominent, active and motivated students, and often perform ceremonial duties for their University. By the way, membership in the student and especially in the Greek communities paid from a few hundred to $ 3000.

8. A visit to the campus of American University

Before you finally decide on the choice of University, many of them can be visited in person, arriving for a few days to see it with my own eyes. It was expensive, but very useful and will simplify not only commitment, but also a period of adaptation.


To think carefully about their career plans, professional and personal interests and on this basis to choose a University and program is the best that can make a prospective student for their future life and career. It is no coincidence that one of the main admission requirements of the universities cover letterthat convinces the admissions office that you made a conscious choice.

And, of course, in addition to excellent education, practical skills and opportunities for self-realization students gain invaluable experience in an international environment and life in another country.