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Pursuing higher studies in the United States has been a trend among Indian students for quite some time. Whether it is opting for a Masters degree or a doctoral program, colleges and universities in the U.S. have always appealed as a preferable choice to international students. According to a report on international education exchange data released by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, there was a 12% increase in the number of Indian students studying in the U.S. in 2017 as compared to the previous year. Owing to a wide array of research and internship opportunities, American universities offer unparalleled benefits and advantages to international students. The top states in the U.S. receiving an influx of international students every year include California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Indian students mostly prefer pursuing an MS degree in the U.S. Compared to MBA, postgraduate MS programs are less expensive. Further, study programs in government-funded universities are obviously cheaper than private universities. The average cost of MS program in state-funded U.S. universities varies in between US$ 20,000 to US$ 30,000 for two years. For full-time MBA programs, the tuition fees can rise up to US$ 60,000.
Most American universities ask for 16 years of formal education as a pre-requisite for filling the application form. Indian students with a bachelors degree easily fulfil this eligibility. Universities also ask for test scores in TOEFL and IELTS to check proficiency in English. Further, GRE and GMAT scores are required to qualify for MS or MBA programs. Additionally, professional experiences, extra-curricular activities, publications, letter of recommendations, and class performances are looked at among other things while selecting an applicant for a study program. Students can also look for financial assistance to lower their tuition fees by applying for scholarships and grants offered by universities.
To study in the United States, a student visa (F or M) is required. The type of student visa is determined by the course of study and type of school where the student enrols. Individuals travelling on a visitor visa or on a visa waiver program cannot apply for admissions in U.S. colleges. During the visa interview, students need to furnish documents such as passport, certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status as issued by U.S. university, and evidence of financial means to pay educational, living and travel expenses. Students are also asked about their plans after the completion of course.
Approved visas can be issued to new students up to 120 days before the commencement of course. However, a student is only allowed to enter the U.S. 30 days from the start date of the course.
Right after coming to the U.S., students usually opt for temporary accommodations. Temporary accommodations might be cramped up with a large number of new students at the start of the academic year. On-campus housing is available at certain U.S. universities. However, students also share private apartments depending on their preferences and budgets. Again, apartment rents differ considerably according to cities.
Apart from stay, students need to set up their bank accounts, know their neighbourhoods, look for grocery stores among other things. Some U.S. cities have Indian grocery stores as well. Public transport is not convenient everywhere in the U.S. Though cities such as New York have frequent subways and buses, not all U.S. cities can boast of such means of transport. In such cases, students are either left with the choice to stay near college campuses or own a car. Campus life is hectic as well as exciting for international students. Indian students might experience a difference in culture initially but that changes once interactions with fellow students start through various campus activities and study groups. Student associations within universities also help to bridge the cultural differences.
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Students on an F-1 visa may not be eligible to work off-campus during their first year but may take up on-campus employment opportunities. In their second academic year, students can apply for two types of off-campus opportunities: