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The United States of America popularly refer as the United States, the U.S., the USA, or America with borders Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, the North Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the North Pacific Ocean to the west. The U.S. consists of 50 states (48 continental plus Alaska and Hawaii), a federal district, Washington D.C., and small territories in the Pacific and Caribbean. At roughly 9.8 million square kilometers, the U.S. is the world’s third largest country in size and population and one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations. The capital city is Washington D.C.

Weather

As USA is a big country, its climate varies from place to place. Usually the southern and western half of the country is warmer than the other regions and extreme hot in summer. The eastern and northern half regions are extremely cold and heavy snowfall in winters and are pleasant in summer. Hawaii and Florida have tropical climate, Alaska have freezing weather, Great Plains west regions of Mississippi River have semi-dry weather and Great Basin of the southwest region have dry weather. This is due to large size, varieties range of geographic features, and noncontiguous arrangement of the country.

Transport

Cars in the US are far cheaper than anywhere in the world. Gas prices in the US, even with the current rising prices are only half of most of the European countries. As per the nation size and growing population different transportation facilities are available. The basic transport includes:

  • Car Transport
  • Bus Lines Services
  • Train Services
  • Air Transport
  • Sea Transport

Major Regions/ Cities

The United States is divided into five regions.

  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Midwest
  • Southwest
  • West

Some of the biggest cities of USA include:

  • New York City, New York
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Houston, Texas
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Diego, California
  • Dallas, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • San Jose, California
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • San Francisco, California
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Austin, Texas
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

Major Economy

The economy of the United States is the world’s largest. Its nominal GDP was estimated to be $14.3 trillion in 2009, almost three times the size of the economy of Japan, the world’s second largest economy. In purchasing power parity terms, it is more than twice as large as the economy of the People’s Republic of China. Notwithstanding, the U.S. economy also maintains a very high level of output per capita. In fact, the US manufacturing output is greater than that of the countries of China, India, and Russia combined. The US is by far the world’s economic center and hub of global wealth, with Americans owning 40% of the world’s entire wealth. About 50% of the entire world’s millionaire populations reside in the United States. The US Dollar holds about 60% of world reserves, as compared to its top competitor, the Euro, which controls only about 24%.

Major Industries

The major Industries of US are:

  • Energy
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • International Trade
  • Petroleum
  • Steel
  • Motor vehicles
  • Aerospace
  • Telecommunications
  • Chemicals
  • Creative industries
  • Electronics
  • Food processing
  • Consumer goods
  • Lumber
  • Mining and defense

Some Facts

CAPITAL: Washington, DC

CURRENCY: US Dollar ($) (USD)

LANGUAGE Spoken: English is the de facto national language of the United States, with 82% of the population claiming it as a mother tongue, and some 96% claiming to speak it “well” or “very well”. However, no official language exists at the Federal level. People speak many languages all over the country including English, Spanish, French, and German etc.

Emergency Services: 911 (Police, Fire, Ambulance)

USA international dialing code: +1

Education System

There is no central ministry of education in the U.S. and each institution can determine its own programs and admission standards. There are private as well as state funded colleges. Almost there are 4276 Institutions in US out of which 1700 Universities & Institutions offer Master Degree & Ph D, 1700 Universities offer Bachelors admitting students from all over the world. Education system in the USA is different from the British system of education and from other countries.

After the Nursery school and Kindergarten, primary or elementary education starts, which will be from first to sixth grade. Grades from 7th to 12th is known as secondary education in which seventh to ninth are known as Junior High School grades and 10th to 12th are known as Senior High School Grades.

Courses in US College & universities range from short-term certificate programs to Post-Doctoral level degrees, one could join the first year of college, either in a Community College which offers a two-year Associate degree or a Technical Institute of similar duration programs. Completion of this level will make one eligible to take up two more years of the undergraduate program at a four-year college or a university, on completion of which leads to a Bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree after that could be between one to two years. Finally, once a student earns his doctoral degree, he could pursue further research/study as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, which is the highest level of education anywhere in the world done simultaneous along with the Master’s or additional, which can be another 3-4 years.

Types of American Institutions/Education

Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Child education is compulsory.

Primary school:

American children start school at the age of five years. The first year at school is called kindergarten. It is required of all American children enrolled in the American education system.

Secondary school:

Upon completion of fifth grade (the last year of primary school), American children enrolled in the American education system advance to secondary school. Secondary school most commonly consists of a total of seven years, referred to as sixth through twelfth grades.

Undergraduate school:

Students who have completed high school and would like to attend college or university must attend what is referred to as an undergraduate school. These are schools that offer either a two-year degree (called an associate degree) or a four-year degree (called a bachelors degree) in a specific course of study. That course of study is called the major.

Graduate school:

Students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree can continue their education by pursuing one of two types of degrees. The first is a master’s degree. This is usually a two-year degree that is highly specialized in a specific field. Students are sometimes admitted to a master’s degree program only if they have a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field. However, there are many exceptions to this, such as with students who want to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Students who want to advance their education even further in a specific field can pursue a doctorate degree, also called a PhD. A PhD degree can take between three and six years to complete, depending on the course of study chosen, the ability of the student, and the thesis that the student has selected. The thesis is a very intensive research paper that must be completed prior to earning the degree. It is always required of students pursuing a PhD, and may sometimes be required of students pursuing a master’s degree (depending on the school).

Accreditation

Accreditation is a process by which universities and their programs are recognized for maintaining a certain level of performance and quality. Accreditation is usually done by non-governmental agencies called accreditation bodies. There are two types of accreditation: regional & professional.

Regional bodies ascertain whether colleges and universities as a whole meet certain standards of educational quality. In addition, certain professional accrediting bodies evaluate the quality of education in specific fields like Business, Law etc.

Importance of Accreditation:

  • Ensures that universities meet minimum standards.
  • Only national and international form of evaluation for US universities.
  • Increases the recognition of degree by employers and schools.
  • Helps in case the student wishes a transfer to another university.
  • To check out the list of accredited US universities, go to www.chea.org

NOTE:  Most of the Government s recognizes only accredited U.S. universities. It is advisable to apply to only accredited universities.

Reasons for Studying in USA

There are number of reason for studying in USA. Some of them are explained below.

Study what you like:

USA has to offer any course that you can even think of. From studying the MBAs to a top engineering course or if you wish to study retail management, human resource, banking, finance, investment, securities, that is possible. Or electronics, telecommunication, nanotech, communication, information systems, information technology, computer science, computer engineering, embedded systems, VLSI, digital marketing or more, that is possible. Or it could be art and design (pure and industrial) like fashion Design, Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Web Design, Multimedia Design, Textile Design, Automobile / Automotive Design, Aerospace Design and more, that is possible. For engineering students, US can offer just about anything: General, Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Aerospace, Aeronautical, Electronics and Electrical, Communication, Automotive, Sustainable, Environmental, Genetic, Nanoengineering, Software, IT, Computer, Chemical, Oil and Gas, Ocean, Water and even Engineering Management. Health, health promotion, physiotherapy (incl. MPT), nutrition, medicine, dentistry, imaging, psychology and more are available in Health and allied fields.

Scholarships / Financial Assistance:

US Schools have always been generous to students who have the ability to contribute. A large number of scholarships, fellowships and assistantships are available to international students. US easily enjoy the advantage of providing more scholarships, financial assistance, financial aid, bursaries to students as compared to the rest of the world. Thus, we recommend that whatever be your scores in your studies in your home Country, always apply for scholarships and you may be in for some luck as overall value of your education rises when you make use of the opportunity cost.

Acceptability and Popularity:

US universities and colleges are known for their academic excellence and quality assurance. A degree from an accredited US university is not only recognized but also sought after, by employers worldwide. US remain the ultimate land of opportunities given its size, market, value in everything largely and most importantly, the quality and value of its education. The long-term career prospects of a student are enhanced as the method of teaching is designed to apply theoretical knowledge and develop self-confidence, independent thinking and cross-cultural communication skills.

Flexibility:

The education system in USA is the most versatile and flexible higher education system for international students in the world. During your course, you can transfer from one course or stream to another or from one School to another. The system is distinguished and credit transfers are possible.

Admission Requisition

The colleges in USA are ranked according to their competitiveness and reputation. The fact remains that the private colleges of the country are more popular than their public counterparts. Admissions criteria in the USA colleges demand for rigor and grades which the students have earned in their high school courses. Some of the things that are taken into account include the students’ GPA, ranking in the class, and standardized test scores.

Entry Requirements + Eligibility

  • Undergraduate: 10+2
  • Graduate:16 years of education required (10+2+4)
  • Some institutions accept 15 years education into their Bridge /Masters Programs.
  • Good & strong academic background.
  • Good scores in entrance exams like SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, IELTS etc.
  • Strong recommendation letters.
  • To the point Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement, essays & resumes.
  • Certificates of achievement & extra -curricular activity participation.
  • Strong financial background or good grades to get a scholarship.

Required Tests

Here are different types of Standardized Tests require for admission.

For undergraduate admissions, required standardized tests usually include:

  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • American College Testing Assessment (ACT)

For graduate and professional admissions, required tests usually include:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) – for liberal arts, science, math
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) – for business schools/study for MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) programs
  • Law School Admission Testing Program (LSAT) – for law schools
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – for medical schools
  • Dental Admission Testing Program (DAT) – for dental schools
  • Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
  • Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT)

International students applying for an undergraduate program (bachelors degree) will be required to take the TOEFL and the SAT I tests. Some schools will also require the SAT II. There are also many schools that will accept the ACT in place of the SAT I.

Graduate students applying to an arts or science program will be required to take the TOEFL and, usually, the GRE. Graduate students applying to a business program will be required to take the TOEFL and, usually, the GMAT.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is accepted by over 2,000 US universities and professional bodies and is becoming popular even in the US. A good GMAT score is required, in addition to IELTS or TOEFL scores and work experience of 2-3 years, in addition to decent academic performance at the Bachelor’s level. For more information, please see:

http://www.ielts.org/pdf/USA_Recognition_List.pdf

All students must have the required English language proficiency with regards to the course. TOEFL score of 90 for Postgraduate and 80 above for Undergraduate studies is a decent score. IELTS score of 6.5 and above Undergraduates and Postgraduates studies is required.

Cost of Education

US Universities are either public or private institutions. Thus, public school tuition expenses are based on nonresident costs which are less expensive than private universities. It differs from university to university ranging from public cost $ 5000 a year to $ 30000 per annum for private institutes.

Accommodation and Living Expenses

The two main categories of accommodation are: on campus & off-campus. The types of accommodation in the campus include residence halls (dormitories), hostels, university-owned flats and apartments, sorority houses and fraternity houses. The types of accommodation outside the campus include apartments, private dorms, share accommodation, home stay and rent accommodation. The cost of living in different parts of the United States also varies. However living expenses come to around $10,000 a year including accommodation as well as other daily expenses. However, the expenses are different for different people depending on the lifestyles.

  • Rent:  $ 400 per month (You can live alone with that amount in a place like Auburn or share an apartment with 6 people in NY)
  • Groceries: $ 100 per month
  • Utilities: $ 100 per month
  • Phone: $ 100 per month
  • Sundry: $ 200 per month

So, about $1000 per month is a good estimation. Most people can survive with $700-$1000 a month. The key here is to share apartments/houses so that you save on the utilities, fixed charge portion of phone and to some extent on groceries.

Health Insurance

Insurance Policy for international students is a mandatory, as students have to stay abroad for a long period of time. Insurance costs generally between $500-$1000/year. It covers medical expenses, personal accident, dental, treatment, study interruption, passport loss etc. Insurance is basically cashless so a student does not need to pay money at the time of hospitalization.

Work Prospects

USA is one of the strongest economies of the world. The vast majority of Americans derive most part of their income from occupational earnings. In the United States, the highest earning occupational groups are the white collar professionals including management, physicians, mathematicians, financial managers, software publishers, computer engineers, hospitality, etc. USA has also been on the forefront in the telecom, medicine, health care, and genetics

International students can take up on campus jobs they are allowed to work 20 hrs per week during semester (on campus). On campus jobs may include teaching assistantship or research assistantship where a student is paid $8 to $10 per hour thus student earns $ 500-$ 600 per month or can get a waiver in tuition fees. With this, a student can also do internship in the related field which may be paid.  During vacation the student is allowed to work for 40 hrs per week. On completion of the course, student is allowed to work for 1yr popularly known as OPT (optional practical training). Students with certain degrees are allowed to work for 29 months. On completion of their OPT; the student can later apply for work on a H1 B visa (work permit visa)

Major Intakes

US universities offer two main semester intakes:

  • Fall Semester (September/October)

This is the main intake and almost all programs are offered at this time. More financial aid is also available for this semester and as funds are allocated for the entire year during this time.

  • Spring Semester (January/February)

This is the mid-year intake. There is limited financial assistance available for this semester as most universities allocate funds to projects in the Fall semester.

Some universities also have a summer intake around June/July.

Useful Website Links

Below are the useful link details.

Study

Embassies

Government websites

Jobs and work

More

www.vfs-usa.co.in
www.usief.org.in
www.collegeboard.org
www.ice.gov

www.educationusa.state.gov

www.internationalstudent.com/scholarships/

www.usastudyguide.com/Financial_aid.htm

Disclaimer:
These web pages contain only guidelines. All these information is taken from various relevant websites aiming to answer some common questions. Visitors are recommended to contact the office for most updated information.

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