Moving to the USA as a student

The number of international students in the USA is growing every year. No wonder! If you take a look at the list of the best universities in the world, you will see that 16 US universities rank in the top 20. Not to mention the endless opportunities in terms of degree programs, study and research and exciting life on campus. Whether you plan to stay in the US or find a great job in your hometown, studying in the USA will forever be one of your most valuable assets. The education and experience you can obtain from your college days are priceless. But if you’re moving to the USA as a student, you need to be prepared. In terms of papers, financially, mentally – you name it.

an aisle in an airplane

Moving to the USA takes preparation and organization

Prepare for your stay

First of all, explore universities and study programs thoroughly to find the ones that fit your needs. But be realistic! Don’t forget that you need to be eligible for the type of university you are applying to. Your education, qualifications and skills ought to meet certain standards for you to apply to a US college.

Once you’ve finished your search and found a perfect university, you may start with the preparations. There’s a lot of work ahead of you. To make it simpler, remind yourself of the most important aspects to consider when moving to the USA as a student.

  1. Collect your papers
  2. Prepare yourself financially
  3. Arrange health insurance
  4. Find housing
  5. Think about transportation

Technically, there are a lot of papers you need to get in order. Not to mention the organization of the moving itself. But don’t forget that you need to be mentally prepared for your stay as well. At some point, you will feel homesick and maybe even slightly depressed. You are moving away from everything familiar, your friends and family and it’s perfectly normal to feel down from time to time. You should never avoid staying in touch with them via Skype, social networks, and mobile communication apps. It’s really important for your mental health!

Getting your papers in order

The US has strict laws when it comes to immigration policy. Since you’re not an immigrant, your path to the USA will be easier, but there are papers you need to have on you when moving to the USA as a student:

passport of the USA

Get all your personal documents in order to get a visa

  • Valid passport                                     
  • Photo
  • Application fee payment receipt
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrants (F-1 or M-1 form), Student Status-For Academic and Language Students Form I-20 and Student Status for Vocational Students Form I-20 

The US Bureau of the Consular Affairs offers detailed info on the necessary papers for a student visa online. However, if you prefer to get the necessary info in person, you can always rely on educational advising centers in your hometown. These centers provide information and counseling for students who want to move abroad and their experience may be very useful when deciding about the college and collecting papers.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is a test you ought to take if you want to be admitted to any of the colleges in the USA. Within 13 days after taking the test, you receive a certificate with your scores to your email address. This certificate will be the first step on the ladder to your US student days! It proves that your English skills are sufficient for studying abroad. Precisely speaking, it certifies that you have the ability to take tests and follow lectures without obstacles.

GRE and GMAT exams

MBA programs in the USA require GRE and GMAT for admission.

Books - you will need to get informed if you are planning on moving to the USA

It usually takes three months to prepare for GRE and GMAT exams.

The main difference between these two is that GMAT is a standardized test for business schools, while GRE is required for admission to most graduate schools. Scores you obtain from these two tests measure your verbal, quantitative and analytical skills. You shouldn’t underestimate these two. Most students find them rather difficult to pass and take several attempts to get the scores they desire. However, you shouldn’t panic either. Take enough time to prepare yourself for this kind of test and practice for at least two to three months. Students who have passed these tests generally say that three months is an optimal time frame.

Find a way to fund your studies

Moving away to college truly requires good organization. But more importantly, you need to calculate the costs before setting off on such a journey. Can you afford to move to the USA as a student? It will be financially exhausting to endure four years or more if you are on a tight budget.

That’s why you should consider exchange programs, scholarships, and grants. There are businesses, private foundations and non-profit organization which provide scholarships for study and research. If you find a way to be a part of an important research program, you may obtain funding that covers part of your study costs. This would really make your life easier. Some US states offer better educational programs than others.

In addition, you may be able to get funding from your home country. There are government programs which allow students to study abroad at the state’s expense. The condition is usually that students return with the knowledge and experience to contribute to the development of their own country.

Think about the housing before moving to the USA

The best option would probably be to stay on campus. Campus apartments and college dorms do not provide much privacy but they are the most affordable home you can find when moving to the USA as a student. Another convenient solution in terms of costs is to stay with an American family. Exchange students usually opt for this kind of housing because they don’t stay during the entire course of studies. However, if you wish to have a place of your own and have privacy and freedom to move around, renting is the best choice. You can cut the costs in half or maybe in three parts if you find roommates.