How to Choose Universities

How to Choose Universities

Do Your Research

The academic culture in the United States is driven by a self-directed learning environment. In U.S. college classrooms, students are responsible for their own success and their motivation to succeed is demonstrated when the student is fully engaged in the learning experience and able to act independently. This ability to act independently and responsibly starts with the process of selecting and applying to the right U.S. colleges and universities.

Every day, EducationUSA advising centers respond to hundreds of questions about studying in the United States.

Advisers provide prospective students with introductory information about the U.S. higher education system and the process of applying to a U.S. institution, while encouraging them to research their options to determine the college or university that best fits their needs. In this article, we will outline some simple steps to get you started on doing your research.

Before you get started with researching, you need to consider all the options that are available in the United States, such as the different types and sizes of institutions, as well as campus locations in an urban, suburban or rural setting.

Also think about your academic preferences, such as your field of study, the degree you’re seeking, student-faculty ratios, and co-operative learning opportunities.

Once you have your preferences determined, you’ll able to start narrowing down your choices. You can find more information and read about the five basic steps to apply for U.S. study by going to:

        Researching the Options

There are many online search engines and databases available to help you explore the variety of U.S. colleges and universities. The most comprehensive and useful sites will provide you with the ability to set filters, such as your level of study and campus location. We recommend that you start first with the search engines that are designed to help you find specific academic programs.

        Getting to the Short List

Once you obtain a shorter list of colleges and universities, allow yourself enough time to compare programs and read about the institutions you are interested in.

        Virtual Tours

Many colleges and universities offer a variety of platforms to introduce prospective students to the campus. Some schools post “video tours” of their campus on their website and through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs you can connect with current and other prospective students. You may also refer to Wikipedia or other encyclopedias online to read about the location of the college or university, its campus environment, local climate, population, and the social life. EducationUSA has collected many of these videos and hosts them in one central location to make easier for you. You can find them on the EducationUSA TV Channel on YouTube at:

Knowing exactly why you are applying for a specific program and university in the United States will not only help you make an educated decision, but will also shape your statement of purpose to strengthen your application for admission and better prepare you for your student visa interview with the consular officer at the U.S. Embassy.

For more information about researching your choices visit:


English-Language Requirements for U.S. Study

Competition for admission and financial aid are high and the greater your skill in English, the more opportunities you will have available. In addition, the stronger your English language skills, the better your experience will be as a student in the United States, especially at the graduate level. In the U.S. classroom you will be expected to read and research, converse with students and professors, and write articles about what you have learned, all in English. To best prepare for your academic experience in the United States work on your listening, writing, and pronunciation skills.

Most U.S. colleges and universities require that international students submit proof of English language proficiency with their application for admission. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the most well-known and widely-accepted test to demonstrate English language skills for the academic setting. As you have been informed in our previous newsletter (Volume 3, Issue 6), IELTS is the other option for your English test requirements and the test scores from IELTS are accepted by over 2,500 U.S. colleges and universities:

Financial Aid Form

Most U.S. colleges and universities require that international students submit a supplementary form for financial aid in addition to the application form for admission. This financial aid form is usually available on the international student resources and services section of universities’ websites and can often be completed online. (Note: always save a copy on your computer before submitting any form.) To determine your financial need, the admissions office might request that you answer questions such as information about your parents’ and your own income (if you work), and your current living expenses.

U.S. institutions prefer to see that students are not solely relying on the financial aid offered by the university. Showing that you can cover your expenses and have another source of funding will improve your opportunities for admission with financial aid. Be sure to indicate this on the financial aid form.

If a university decides to accept your application, you will be notified of the funds granted for your studies with the admission letter. The amount of tuition, fees and living costs, less the amount of financial aid provided by the university, will be indicated on the form that you will receive from the institution to apply for a student visa. Therefore, be prepared for your student visa interview at the U.S. consulate with the financial documentation to demonstrate how you will pay for your U.S. studies.

To find a list of financial aid resources and read about how you can reduce educational costs please visit our link at:

Spotlight on Mechatronics Engineering

Mechatronics is a term that is not as commonly used in the United States as it is in some other countries.  It is related to robotics and one of the specialized fields within mechanical, industrial, and electronics engineering. Depending on your specific research interests, you can identify the program most appropriate for you by researching specializations available at each university. If you are pursuing a more advanced degree and the university of your interest does not appear to offer a specialization in mechatronics, do not hesitate to write to the department and ask if it is possible to focus your studies on that area.  At the Ph.D. level, depending on the university, many programs are individualized and it is more important to locate faculty members with interests and projects that fit with your own research interests.

The engineering accreditation body, may be helpful (they accredit only at the first professional degree level, but most ABET-accredited universities offer doctoral and other advanced degrees as well) or you can use general graduate school sites such as or

You may want to also read more about the field at:


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