Higher Education

Coming to the U.S. as an International Student: A Comprehensive Guide

Financial Aid

Preparing to move to the U.S. for college is a daunting task. You have to obtain the right documentation, figure out how to pay for school and move away from your family and friends to a foreign country. But don’t feel intimidated – many international students before you have gone through the same thing and had life-changing experiences while living in America.

Preparing yourself for the journey to come will help relieve some stress and anxiety. Here are some ways to prepare for college in the U.S.

Paying for school

Though studying in America is a valuable experience, it can also be an expensive one. Luckily, the U.S. offers many options for making college more affordable for international students. Many colleges offer financial aid and scholarships to international students to alleviate the cost of tuition. Scholarships are awarded based on various factors – intended field of study, income, academic performance and whether you’re attending graduate or undergraduate school.

Further your ability to pay for school by getting a job while in America. There are typically plenty of campus jobs available at the beginning of the school year, so be on the lookout for employment opportunities nearby. For more information on paying for college in the U.S., download the helpful e-book, “Guide to International Student Financial Aid,” by HCC Medical Insurance Services.

Obtaining necessary documentation

All international students are required to have an F-1 visa before entering the U.S. In order to obtain such a visa, you must schedule a visa interview with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. Prepare to bring the required documents to the interview, including your passport, visa application and certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status. Once your application has been accepted, you’ll receive the visa up to 120 days before classes start, but you won’t be able to enter the country until 30 days prior to the start of classes.

Dealing with culture shock

America is more than likely quite different from your home country. Being in unfamiliar territory for that long without knowing many people can cause you to become extremely homesick. But there are ways to overcome culture shock. Start by making use of the international student office and attending events they host. You’ll meet other international students and start building relationships.

While you should try to get used to American culture, maintaining aspects of your culture from home—like your religious practices, hobbies and food choices—can help you strike a healthy balance between new experiences and the comforts of home.

Bon voyage

Once you’ve prepared yourself for the adventure of studying in the U.S., you’ll be ready to make unforgettable memories. Take advantage of studying in a different country and expand your comfort zone. Making new friends and immersing yourself in another culture will make you thankful you went to school in America.

Written by contributor Lindsey Harper Mac.  Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

You can get a hold of her on Twitter at @Harpermac11


About Lindsey Paholski

Here you will find various articles by Digital PR specialist, Lindsey Paholski. She is a new media guru living in the Indianapolis area. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her Master's degree at IUPUI.


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