Where should I study in America?
by Joe Vatanasombut
Choosing where to study |
San Francisco |
Los Angeles |
Texas : Austin |
Washington D.C. |
New York City
One of the most important decisions in your educational life is
to decide where you are going to study. This article is the first
of the "Study in USA" series. In this series, we will help
you make that decision by taking you to visit major Cities
and Universities around the U.S.
As an introduction, this article takes a look at a few important
factors that can affect your life depending on where you choose
to study. You should weigh different factors depending on your
goals and interests. Here is a list of factors that many students consider:
A school's rank, overall or specifically in your field, is a good
indication of the quality of education you would receive if you
went to school there. However, there are a few things that
you should know about ranking methods:
- The overall ranking does not mean that the institution is
reputable in every specific field. If you are attending
a graduate school, we strongly recommend that you look at
program-specific rankings instead of overall rankings.
- Ranking does not guarantee success in your education and
professional life. Your success can be affected by many
other things such as your motivation, your professor, and your
- School's rankings are not always objective. Quite a few
complaints have been made about the ranking systems. Some people feel that
the weighting of the criteria is somewhat arbitrary. How
can we objectively say that faculty to student ratio is
more or less important than average SAT score of students whom are admitted?
- Not all criteria are considered in schools' rankings.
For instance, campus safety is never included in the rankings.
You can attend the one of the top schools in the country, but if
you don't feel safe on campus, you may want to transfer to another college.
Tip: Some students get into a highly ranked colleges by applying to the
less well-known departments as freshmen. Later on, they
transfer into a different, more prestigious department.
Location encompasses a few factors that can affect your life
in the U.S., so you should think seriously about location
while you consider a particular school in that location.
Tip: Click here
to take a free, 10-minute quiz from
findyourspot.com to find out what cities in America best match your
preferences in terms of climate, culture, recreation, and education.
Every recommended place comes with a colorful online report with great information.
Job: The job market is closely related to location. Studying in
a university located near an industry related to your major will
improve your chances of finding a job. If you want to get a
computer-related job, you should consider going to school near
Silicon Valley in California.
If you want a job in the entertainment industry (movies, music, or TV),
there is no question that Los Angeles is a
good place to study. New York city is highly concentrated
with companies in the finance, security, and publishing industries.
The oil industry which employs a lot of chemical engineers,
and geologists is mainly in Texas and Alaska.
Tip: Get a head start on U.S. job information for
foreign students by visiting our
Friends and food: a lot of students want to be close to friends
or relatives in America. Certain regions have
high concentrations of international population (e.g.,
Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Seattle). For example, there are
large China Towns in New York and San Francisco. In Los Angeles,
there are Korean Town, Thai Town, and little Saigon. A large
hispanic population also reside in Houston and Southern California.
If you live near those areas, it will be easier for you to find food
and products from overseas.
Weather and disaster: America is such a large country that different
regions can have very different climates.
Nevada and Arizona are mainly dessert.
Hawaii and Florida have warm, humid weather most of the
year. Winter in Minnesota could get as cold as
-30 degree Fahrenheit (-35 C).
Natural disasters are also region-specific. California is prone
to earthquakes while the Northeastern States (e.g., New York, Maine) have
experienced several deadly blizzards in the last few decades.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina (and a few other southern states)
also encounter hurricanes quite often.
Tip: Visit the
Weather Channel for average and record temperature of cities around the U.S.
Discrimination: unfortunately, racial discrimination exists in many parts
of the world and America is not an exception. Most of the time, if you study
in large metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles,
the chances of facing discrimination are relatively small. However, in certain
parts of the country such as the Southern States, there are more
reports of discrimination.
The quality of faculty is one of the key factors in determining the
academic quality of the school. Another variable is the ratio
of faculty per student. If this number is too low, you may not
be able to seek personal advice or interact with professors as
often as you wish. The ratio is also a good indicator of the
average class size.
If you are a Ph.D. student, you need to be particularly picky
about the faculty. Since the dissertation process requires close
supervision from a faculty advisor, you should choose a school with
faculty that has similar research interests to yours.
Tip: The best way to find out about the quality of faculty in a particular
school is to talk to experts or alumni and students from your field.
Though it is not always the case, private schools are generally more expensive
than public schools. However, don't remove a school from your list
simply because it's expensive. You may be able to find financial
assistance or scholarships later.
- Check out our Finance Center
for scholarships for foreign students.
- Click here to get an idea how
much does it cost to study in the U.S.
Tip: There are actually advantages to attending expensive schools. First, when applying to
expensive schools, there tend to be fewer candidates to compete with since
fewer students can afford them. Second, you may have a better chance to
network with affluent students at those schools.
I hope we help you to have a better idea about choosing your location.
if you have any questions or feedback. Next week, the next article
in this series will introduce Boston, the student capital of the U.S.