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Ten things all international students need to know about the United States

Studying in the US is a dream for many international students and for good reason. Its home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world and allows students to take classes across a range of disciplines before picking their “major”. 

But moving to another country can be daunting, so hopefully these 10 tips will help you to feel a little more prepared.  

1. Applying to university 

One difference to remember is that university in the US is often called “college” or “school”. When students move on to postgraduate studies, they often then refer to their institution as “grad (graduate) school”. The terms later become more specific depending on what is being studied – law school or med (medical) school, for example.

In the US there is no universal application site; each university requires potential students to apply directly. This means that application requirements can vary. Most – but not all – universities require an SAT/ACT score. It is important to research every university to which you are interested in applying and confirm what their application requirements are.

There are some websites and apps that can make the process easier, such as the Common App, which enables you to apply to several universities in one place. Many universities accept applications through the app, including Harvard and Yale.

2. University structure 

The US higher education sector can be broken down into four categories: associate degrees (AA, AS, AAS), bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and PhD or doctoral degrees. Each level has different credit requirements to pass, and they vary in course length, with associate level starting at one year and doctoral level taking up to 10 years in some cases. 

In the United States, a credit system which allows students to choose a number of subjects throughout their time at college. At the end of each semester, students will receive credits based on how they have performed.