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Adaora Ezike

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Many people, especially those living in low-resource countries, want the opportunity to study abroad. When I was in high school, the most common countries people wanted to study in were the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. These countries have world-renowned institutions and are also English-speaking. The occasional adventurous student would look into France or Germany, but for the most part, these three countries topped the charts.

However, when it comes to studying in the U.S., people aren’t asking themselves all the right questions. By the time they get here, they are left in a difficult rut to come out from. So today, I will be sharing with you some questions that you should be asking to figure out if studying in the U.S. is right for you. Please note that these questions can be applied to studying abroad in general.

What course do I want to study?

Many U.S. universities offer a wide range of courses. One thing I love about the education system is the ability to change your course after being admitted. The flexibility in course selection is amazing. However, many professional courses are not offered at an undergraduate level. What do I mean? Courses such as medicine, law, physical therapy, etc are post-graduate level courses. You already have to complete a first degree (usually within the U.S.) before pursuing them. This means that a lot of resources will be dedicated to pursuing such degrees. Other professions such as therapists require at least a graduate level degree to even be licensed. If you want to pursue any of such degrees straight up, you may need to reconsider coming to the U.S.

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Where do I want to end up after school?

This goes hand in hand with choosing your course. A degree may apply in the U.S, but may not be applicable in your home country. Take for example, physician assistants. This is a well-recognized profession in the United States, but many countries do not accredit them. If staying in the U.S is not part of your long-term goal, you need to be careful about studying a course that wouldn’t be applicable in the country you wish to live.

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Am I looking for a path to citizenship?

Some international students come to the U.S. with the intention of going back home after their studies, while others do not. If your plan is to live and work in the U.S., you need to start familiarizing yourself with the various paths to citizenship. Certain fields such as engineering and healthcare have better chances with H1B visas (a type of work permit which has at the time of writing been halted by President Trump). As well, immigration in the U.S. is constantly changing depending on the presidency. If remaining in your country of study is very important to you, I would suggest starting now to research various options. I would also suggest looking up more countries with friendly immigration policies for international students.

Do I have a family and other dependents?

If you are the breadwinner of your family, this is very important. International students are only allowed to work on campus, not more than 20 hours a week. It is very difficult to sustain a family on such an income. Depending on the type of visa that your dependents are on, they may not be able to work at all in the United States. You also need to show proof that you can care for your dependents before being issued a visa. If the limited ability to work will affect your family, you may need to consider schooling in a different country that allows off-campus work opportunities.

How much am I willing to spend?

More money talks. International students are not always aware of how they can cut costs while schooling abroad. Options exist such as attending community college, going to state schools, scholarships, and grants, etc. I suggest looking into these options and contacting your school’s financial aid office for more information. As well, various countries have programs where they send their citizens to study in the U.S. in return for service for a number of years. That may be something to look into. whatever it is, you want to be able to cover your expenses. It’s one thing to be broke, it’s another thing to be broke on foreign soil.

Well, that’s all I have today. Please let me know if I am missing out on anything else in the comment section. Check out my other posts on Adabekee.