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FAQ for USA

If you are planning to study in USA then you will have many questions in mind before coming to the decision. To help you out, the following are the list of frequently asked questions and answers to them:

  • Who is eligible to apply to the US?
  • What’s the difference between a college and a university?
  • What is the difference between state and private colleges & universities?
  • Should I apply to a two year college in the United States?
  • What is the academic calendar for colleges & universities in the US?
  • Can I take a gap year before studying in the USA?

Who is eligible to apply to the US?

Anyone who has a consistently good academic record and proficiency in English is eligible to apply to the US for higher education. Please check the details of the program and the university to which you wish to apply since different programs have different sets of criteria for eligibility. You may be required to take admission tests. Planning should preferably begin 12 -18 months in advance.

What’s the difference between a college and a university?

The terms, ‘college’ and ‘university’, are used interchangeably and mean the same thing in the US. As a general rule, colleges tend to be smaller and usually offer only undergraduate degrees, while a university also offers graduate degrees. Within each college or university, you will find schools, such as school of arts and sciences or the school of business. There are several exceptions to this general rule. Dartmouth College is a large research university and Ohio Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college.

What is the difference between state and private colleges & universities?

State colleges and universities, also called public universities, are subsidized by US state governments to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. These universities tend to be very large and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities. State university tuition costs are generally lower than those of private universities. International students, as well as those from other states, are considered out-of-state residents and pay a higher tuition than residents of the state in which the institution is located.

Private colleges and universities are funded by a combination of endowments, gifts from their alumni, research grants, and tuition fees. Tuition fees tend to be higher than state universities, but there is no distinction made between state and non-state residents, and scholarships are available. Private universities are usually smaller than public universities.

Should I apply to a two year college in the United States?

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Two-year colleges in the US offer an alternative to the more traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Known as community colleges, these institutions offer study in a wide range of subjects to post-secondary students of all ages and academic levels. Students studying at a community college may either receive a stand-alone two-year degree (associate’s degree) or transfer to a four-year Bachelor’s program (2 + 2 program). In addition to educational flexibility, two-year colleges are also known for their affordability with relatively low tuition rates in comparison to four-year institutions.

International students interested in attending a two-year college and then transferring to a four-year bachelor’s degree program should consider the following factors: the articulation or guaranteed transfer agreements that the two-year college has with four-year institutions policies on transfer credit course requirements.

What is the academic calendar for colleges & universities in the US?

The academic year will be slightly different for each university but normally runs from end of August/early September to the end of May. It may be divided into two terms of 18 weeks called semesters. Alternatively, the university may have “quarters” or “trimesters”, which are about 12 weeks in length. Many universities have 6-8 week optional summer terms. Summer course allow students to earn their degree faster, decrease their course load during the regular terms, and/or make up for courses not completed successfully during the regular academic year. There are at least two main holidays during the academic year: a 2-4 week break during the Christmas holidays and a one-week spring break sometime between early March and mid April.

Can I take a gap year before studying in the USA?

Certainly, it is not as common for American students to take a gap year so you will need to ring or email the university’s admissions office to see what their policy is for students wishing to defer admission for a full year. American universities will value the experience and maturity that you will gain on a gap year, especially if you are doing something purposeful with your year such as voluntary service, learning a language, saving up for your studies or travelling to a new part of the world.
Some students taking a gap year will apply in upper sixth and then ask for permission to defer their admission (note that you may not automatically be able to defer scholarship offers). Others complete their application in the summer / early autumn after their A-levels and find they have more time to focus on their applications and can write about their gap year plans in their admissions essay.

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