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The International Student Blog

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a US College

Posted on June 29th, 2018 by Yessica Prato

Many students like you decide to come to the United States to complete a degree as this will open doors for them around the world. Now that you have graduated from high school and are ready to take the next step, it’s time to choose where you will spend the next 4 or more years of your life while you complete a degree. When choosing a college or university in the US, there are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid:


Not doing your research beforehand

Choosing a college or university can be a long process. However, the more research you do, the better and more informed your decision will be. Don’t just choose a college based on their a campus and sports teams. Remember that you will spend the next 4 years in this place. Some ways to do your research might include:

  • Read about the campus life
  • Talk to your admissions counselor or other students about the school
  • Make sure they offer the major of your choice
  • Ask about room and board
  • Inquire about other facilities and services within the campus like
    • Student Health Center
    • International Student Center/Office
    • Student Union
    • Campus security
    • Nearby shopping malls or grocery stores
    • Campus shuttles


Following your friends

Going to college abroad can be overwhelming for anyone. However, the point of studying abroad is to make new friends and meet people from different backgrounds from your own. While it’s tempting to follow your friends and choose to attend the same school as them, this can backfire since many friends grow apart once they go to college. You will get comfortable around the people you already know and miss out on the great opportunity to mingle with other international students. This is the time to widen your horizons and immerse yourself in a different culture.


Family traditions

Similarly to choosing a college based on where your friends are going, make sure you don’t choose a school simply because your family went there too. It may be impressive that your father and your grandfather and your great grandfather all graduated from the same university, however, this school may not be the best option for you. Don’t be afraid to start a new family tradition and be your own person! Choose a college that offers the career you want to pursue. Be sure to talk to your admissions counselor to check if they have the classes you want to take and that the size of the classes are adequate for you. Remember, the one sitting in the classroom taking exams and doing the work will be you!


Forgetting location and distance

Any good realtor will tell you: location is everything. This doesn’t just apply to a house but also where you plan to spend the next 4 years. For someone used to the busy city and public transportation, New York City is ideal! However, many international students realize that the pace of life in NYC can be hard to adapt to and quite hectic. You want to consider whether you go to school in a big city or if you are more comfortable living in a small town. Moreover, don’t forget how vast the United States really is. It takes roughly 2 days to drive from Los Angeles to New York City assuming you were to do it without any sleep or stops. Flying across the country can be expensive depending where you’re flying from and to. If you live in a small town during your time as an international student, consider how far you will have to drive to get to the nearest international airport. It’s very important to visit the school you plan to attend beforehand!


It’s not all about the money

Every college student has had this predicament: finding a perfect college only to realize that the cost might be too much. Don’t be discouraged by this number! There are many ways to pay for college. Make sure you’re realistic about the price tag but also keep in mind that basing your decision of not going to your dream college solely because on how much money it’ll cost will make you regret it in the long run. There are several scholarships and much financial aid available. You will also be able to work while in the US as an international student to make some extra cash. Like singer Jessie J says, “forget about the price tag!” Take her advice but also put in the work to find the funds you need.

When choosing a college or university in the US, there are several things to consider. Don’t forget to do plenty of research and don’t be afraid. College is a fun experience and studying abroad will expose you to different cultures and new adventures!

Written by Yessica Prato

Yessica joined the team in 2016. Originally from Colombia, she migrated to the United States in 2005 with her family. While living in Kansas, she attended Kansas State University. Her interest in education and international studies along with her experience in bilingual customer service led her to EIC. She has also had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. When not in the office, you'll find her immersed in a good book or with her dogs at the beach.

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6 Responses to “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a US College”

  1. Rachel DeHaven Says:

    I read your blog and found it very insightful and entertaining. I was wondering if I could use one of your posts as a guest blog for our website? ( We are looking for bloggers that appeal to high school parents. I would of course link to your blog in the post.

    Thanks for your time,

    Rachel DeHaven

  2. Zainab Says:

    Thanks. I have applied for California University,but got rejected,i don’t know why and iam also American citizen but living in another country.

  3. Bryanna Davis Says:

    We’re sorry to hear that Zainab. I would suggest asking for feedback on the rejection- if none is able to be provided then going back through the admissions requirements might be a good place to cross reference with your stats. Perhaps you can improve on the area that you were denied based on and reapply, or find an alternative school where you’ll meet the requirements. You can also contact a company like IvyWise for help getting accepted.

  4. Ozuem Binichukwu Says:

    I’ve been trying to apply for a computer course in New York universities, but their prices are quite high. I called one of their representatives once and I was told the fees are to be paid before I will be accepted in the school. please I want to know if there is any school in New York or New Jersey that accept payment per semester or yearly from international students. I am from Nigeria

  5. Dicap Says:

    I have already been denied for us visa twice and they told me to give more about my ties home. Also i have alread got an associate degree in my country (Africa) and i was applied in the community college but i changed now to go to university. Is it useful for me? I need some responses very soon
    Best regards

  6. Bryanna Davis Says:

    Hi Dicap,

    We’re sorry to hear you’ve been denied twice. Any information that you can provide to them that proves you plan to return home after your studies will help. You can find some helpful information on this in our F1 visa interview video. Good luck!

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