You can make your choice easier by considering a number of factors when deciding where to apply.
There are two broad groups of universities in the USA: public universities, which are supported by state governments, and are usually less expensive; and private universities, which receive no government funding, and are usually more expensive. However, many private universities offer significant financial aid, so investigate carefully before rejecting anything based on price. Within these two broad groups, there is a wide variety of size, status and focus.
The USA is a huge country, with a diverse climate and landscape, so location is another important factor to consider when making college choices. Do you want to be in the East or West, North or South? Year-round sun or knee-deep snow? Small town where everyone knows your name, or big city where you can get lost in the crowd? Remember to consider travel from home – colleges in rural locations are often far from international airports, and may be virtually inaccessible without a car.
At most American universities, you do not need to choose your major until after your first year, but you must consider academic offerings before you apply. If you have a particular major in mind, then check that the colleges on your list offer that subject. If you are still not sure what you want to study (and you don’t have to be sure yet!), then ensure that the colleges on your shortlist offer majors in all your possible fields of interest. Most universities also require you to complete some sort of core curriculum – be sure to check these requirements carefully. A warning about law and medicine: in the USA, these are post-graduate degrees with tough entry requirements, to which few international students are accepted.
Quality of Life
You won’t be in class all the time, so take time to investigate other aspects of college life. What are your housing options? Where will you eat? Will you be able to play the sports and be involved in the activities that you enjoy? If you are hoping to work on campus while studying, check that these opportunities are available; and if you hope to stay in the USA after graduation, check that the career service will be able to help you with your job hunt.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you must consider the selectivity of the school. Many colleges have many more applicants than they have places, and at famous universities fewer than 10% of applicants are accepted (even though colleges such as Yale estimate that at least 75% of their applicants are more-than-qualified to attend). Be realistic about your college list – remember that your secondary school grades and standardized test scores are the most important elements of your application, and these should match (or exceed) the profile of the average incoming student.
U.S. College Planning Center
Welcome to our U.S. College Planning Center. This is where you can find almost everything you need for your college success in the United States.
Start Your Journey
Test Information: Getting your child into the college of their choice starts with knowing your options, understanding the process and customizing a test preparation plan tailored to suit their strengths and weaknesses. Further Test Information: SAT Test Information and ACT Test Information.
Admissions Factors: Begin laying the foundation and consider the admissions factors as early on as possible to ensure your child does not get too stressed out and overworked closer to the SAT. Further Admissions Factors: Choosing a School and Further Planning.
Application Tips: A strong college application, which showcases your child’s strongest grades, extracurricular activities and personal essay is very important! Every college has different criteria for determining which students to admit. The best tip during this process is to stay organized and pay close attention to the many details. Further Application Tips: Interviews and Social Media.
Prep with Clever Academy & Kaplan
SAT Test Prep Courses: Classroom, Online & On-Demand Options
ACT Test Prep Courses: Classroom, Online & On-Demand Options
Test Scores for Key Colleges: To find out more about what score your child should be aiming for, download our list of the average test scores accepted by many top colleges.