For pursuing higher studies in the U.S., you need to follow a systematic step-by-step process right from the application to scholarship. Renuka Raja Rao, country coordinator, EducationUSA Advising Services, United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), provides suggestions for students aspiring to study in the U.S.
What is the best way to apply for higher studies in the U.S.?
We recommend that students connect with an EducationUSA advising centre. EducationUSA (www.educationusa.state.gov ) is a U.S. Department of State-funded programme hosted by the United States-India Educational Foundation in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad and by two other independent centres in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.
Our advice to students is to start preparation at least 12 - 18 months prior to the start date of the programme and to follow the timeline suggested in ‘Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study’ (https://educationusa.state.gov/your-5-steps-us-study).
How can high school students, who wish to pursue higher studies in the U.S., work towards building a strong application to ensure they get admission into the college and course of their choice as well as a scholarship?Preparing a strong application is a complex process. Students and their parents need to understand the nuances of admission and financial aid at American institutions of higher education.
While a large number of private U.S. colleges and universities are able to provide some scholarships for international undergraduate students, public institutions (government-funded) provide little funding to undergraduate applicants. For detailed information on financial aid, students are advised to visit their nearest EducationUSA centre (http://www.usief.org.in/Study-in-the-US/USIEF-Centers.aspx ) or tune in to the webinars conducted by EducationUSA advising staff and U.S. university admissions officers. Upcoming events and webinars can be found at http://www.usief.org.in/index.aspx.
Students are also encouraged to call the EducationUSA toll-free helpdesk at 1-800-103-1231 (Monday to Friday, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.).
Could you highlight the assistance provided by the USIEF to Indian students with their application process?Students wishing to explore U.S. higher education receive accurate, current and comprehensive information on higher education opportunities in the U.S. at all EducationUSA centres throughout India. The libraries are well-stocked with descriptions of programmes and universities, as well as helpful material on standardised testing and how to write compelling statements of purpose. All EducationUSA centers also conduct comprehensive pre-departure orientation sessions. There are also useful posts on the EducationUSA channel on YouTube that students can use to understand the admission process better. (https://www.youtube.com/user/EducationUSAtv)
Can a good extracurricular activities record make up for mediocre academic scores? How is the application assessed?
American universities and colleges take a holistic approach when reviewing student applications. All components of the student’s profile are taken into consideration, including academic merit (grades), statements of purpose, standardised test scores, leadership potential, letters of recommendation, volunteer work/community service and extra-curricular activities. Indian students should understand that U.S. universities and colleges do not establish cut-offs or minimum scores for admission.
Are there avenues for students who have not received a full scholarship to fund their studies once they begin with the course in the U.S.?
All students are allowed to work part-time on campus while the school is in session (up to 20 hours a week) and full-time during vacation periods (40 hours per week). Additional information can be found at: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment.
Can students who have finished their graduation (10+2+3) also apply to U.S. universities?
Most graduate programmes in the U.S. require the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree (12+4). However, there are some exceptions. U.S. universities enjoy a great deal of administrative freedom, so the best course of action is to enquire with individual universities and departments about their treatment of three year degrees from India.
Is there something you would like to highlight that students applying to U.S. universities should keep in mind?Currently, there are over 1,00,000 students from India studying throughout the U.S. across a wide range of academic disciplines. There are thousands of universities and colleges to choose from and identifying the best fit can be a challenging, yet rewarding, process. Proper planning and following ‘Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study’ is a great way to begin your journey.