How to get an education in the US and how much it costs - ForumDaily
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How to get an education in the USA and how much it costs

Russian-speaking migrants who come to America often have a question: where to go to study, what do they need and how much will they have to pay for American science granite. The US education system is different from what everyone is used to in their homeland. The “Forum” has compiled a step-by-step instruction for those who plan to get higher education in America.

Step one. University Choice

The first thing you need to decide where to go. In the United States, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are more than 1,7 thousands of two-year community colleges and about three thousand colleges and universities that have four years of study. In every third college you can get a master's degree, in every eighth - a PhD (analogue of our candidate or doctor of science).

College and university in America are essentially the same thing. The only difference between them is that not all colleges can obtain a doctoral degree (PhD). In colloquial speech, Americans even call universities colleges. Also, separate faculties at universities are often called colleges or schools.

But a community college is very different from a regular college. It is, in fact, an analogue of our technical school or vocational school. The training there lasts two years. Upon completion, the graduate receives a specific specialty and a so-called “associate” degree (analogous to an “junior specialist”). After community college, a student can also transfer directly to the third year of university, saving a significant amount of money - studying there is much cheaper than university education.

Colleges and universities are divided into public and private. The latter are usually more expensive, but are considered more prestigious. For example, the famous Ivy League universities are private. State universities are funded by the state and are targeted at local students. For students from other states, the competition and price are often much higher.

Professor Nadezhda Peterson, head of the Department of Slavic Studies at Hunter College at New York University, has taught at both private and public universities. She is confident that the quality of teaching at public universities is in no way inferior to private ones. “The professors are good both here and there. But if you study at an elite university, you gain not only knowledge, but also connections and a brand. In student clubs you make acquaintances that stay with you for the rest of your life,” the professor describes the difference.

The degrees that can be obtained in American universities are very similar to ours:

  1. Associated degree (Associate degree) - secondary vocational education, you can get it in the community college in two years;
  2. Bachelor's Degree (Bachelor's degree) - higher education, after school you need to study for four years, after college community - two;
  3. master (Master's degree and MBA) - one and a half to two years of study after receiving a bachelor's degree;
  4. PhD Degree (analogue of the candidate and doctor of science) - two to four years after the graduate or undergraduate degree.

A potential student needs to study which universities offer training in the field of interest to him, how much it costs, whether there are financial aid programs and what are the requirements for admission. All information is posted on the websites of educational institutions. You can choose suitable colleges here or here.

Veronika Vyazova from Kiev now lives in Massachusetts. She chose a master's program for herself for several months: she attended information sessions at colleges, met with professors and former graduates, went to lectures to understand the style of study. “Almost all universities can come to class to see the process from the inside. Several colleges did not impress me at all, some had very large classes (over a hundred people), ”she says.

She chose the women's Simmons College in Boston, which, according to The Princeton Review, ranks first in the ranking of the best MBA programs for women in the United States. The college scrutinized her application and advised her to get a few more years of work experience to increase her chances of admission. Veronica did just that. For two years she worked and prepared for the GMAT entrance test. In the end, I did. She chose to study part-time: she had two or three evening classes a week. I received my master's degree in three years (with full-time work, this can be done in one and a half to two years). The entire training cost her $70 thousand, and she took out almost half of this amount on credit.

Step two. Receipt and documents

Unlike the countries of the post-Soviet space, where the school year for everyone begins in September, in most universities in the United States, you can start studying both in the fall and in the spring semester. The requirements of universities for admission may also vary somewhat, so accurate information should be viewed on the website of a particular educational institution.

The easiest way to enter the community colleges. They are aimed at residents of a particular state; graduates of local schools do not need to pass any additional exams. Those who graduated from school in another country may be asked to pass GED (General Educational Development) tests upon admission. This is a group of four tests that include tasks in the natural and social sciences, mathematics, reading and writing. They make it possible to understand whether the applicant has knowledge at the level of a graduate school.

After two years in a community college, you can transfer to a regular one, study there for another two years and get a bachelor's degree, saving a lot on training.

A list of community colleges in different states can be found at Online American Association of Community Colleges.

In a regular college or university to do more difficult. And the more prestigious a university is, the more difficult it is to get into it. Requirements in different universities may also differ, so they are best recognized directly on the site. But in general, the approach is the same: when deciding on admission, educational institutions look not only at school grades, but also at achievements in other areas - in sports, art, and social work.

To enter the university you need:

  1. Pass TOEFL - English proficiency test. Register for it in advance. When registering, you can specify several universities to which you want to send your results.
  2. Pass the appropriate tests. For those wishing to obtain a bachelor's degree, these are the ACT and SAT, which include tasks in reading, writing, mathematics, and English. Ekaterina Derevenskaya from Kyiv took TOEFL and SAT upon admission to Queensboro College. “The most difficult thing is mathematics in English,” she admits. “Almost no one here knows mathematical vocabulary in English.” Potential master's students need to take the GRE (for some programs it may be replaced by the MAT) or tests in a specific specialty (LSAT - for lawyers, GMAT - for MBAs, MCAT - for doctors, DAT - for dentists, etc.) With a complete list of tests, you can find out on the website of the US Department of Education in the section Standardized Tests.
  1. Write an application for admission. The statement itself is a long questionnaire in which you need to indicate not only school grades, but also your achievements in various fields, interests, hobbies, and rewards. When you apply, you usually need to make a non-refundable payment (75-150 dollars).
  2. Prepare a transcript. This is a document about the progress with a list of all the subjects studied.
  3. Collect the recommendations of teachers. They help the university assess the personal qualities of a potential student. How much they need depends on the university.
  4. Write an essay on the purpose of learning (Statement of Purpose).
  5. Provide evidence of financial solvency. This, for example, may be a bank statement.
  6. Make a diploma evaluation (for admission to the magistracy). Evaluation is the recognition in the United States of qualifications obtained abroad. In fact - verification of the identity of a similar American diploma. In the process of evaluation, a diploma is not only translated into English, but also compares the number of hours listened to in certain subjects with the norms that exist in America. This is usually done within two weeks and costs 200-700 dollars.

In the US there is two associations of companiesthat make the evaluation of diplomas: NACES и AICE. However, you should not hurry with the adaptation of the diploma. First of all, you need to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the university - it can accept an evaluation done only in a particular company, or not require it at all, limiting yourself with a translation and notarization of a diploma.

When evaluating you may need to make a diploma apostille. It is usually made in the country from which you came. Aleksey Gorshkov, a native of Russia living in the USA, made an apostille of a diploma in Perm. “I applied to the regional office of the Ministry of Education. He brought the original diploma, filled out a questionnaire, paid the state duty about one and a half thousand rubles [$ 22] and they made it to me for a month, ”he says.

On certain specialties - especially creative ones - there may be additional requirements. Natalya Babenko, who chose a cinematic career for herself at the School of Arts “Tisch”, had to show her creative work upon admission.

“All film schools require a portfolio of written and audiovisual works. And each university had its own requirements: Columbia University wanted to see what play I wrote, New York - my synopsis for the film. They also looked at reference letters, resumes, autobiographical essays and official transcripts from all the schools where I studied, ”she recalls.

Step three. Tuition and scholarships

All higher education in the United States is paid, but the cost varies significantly between educational institutions. For example, a year of study at a community college can cost 5-10 thousand dollars for state residents and one and a half to two times more for visitors.

In four-year public colleges and universities, tuition fees can start with 6-7 thousand dollars. For example, a full-time year for state residents at Brooklyn College in New York will cost $ 6300, while at the University of San Jose, $ 7300 (without the cost of living). In the prestigious state of Berkeley - $ 16 thousand for state residents and $ 40 thousand dollars for non-residents.

At the most prestigious universities, the cost of education without all associated expenses ranges from $43-50 thousand. For example, at Harvard a year costs $44 thousand, at Stanford – $45 thousand, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – $46 thousand. However, the cost usually increases by another $15-20 thousand due to other, sometimes hidden fees (accommodation, insurance, books, etc.). How much it will actually cost to study at a particular university can be calculated using calculator CNN.

Students have several options for how to pay for such expensive training:

1. Take a loan of several tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Banks willingly give them away, and the Americans then return for many years amounts with many zeros. The high cost of education, due to which young people from university go into debt, is constantly becoming a subject of political debate in the United States.

2. Get a scholarship, financial aid or grant from a university or external sources. In particular, you can get a grant from funds that support certain national, social or professional groups.

Veronica Vyazova, who completed her MBA at Simmons College in Boston, received a scholarship in the amount of $25 thousand. “To be honest, at first they gave me a scholarship of $20 thousand, but I asked for more. Universities know that students apply to many universities, so they fight for the best candidates in order to increase their ranking and prestige in the future,” admits Veronica.

When allocating financial assistance, the university takes into account many factors: ranging from success in learning, past achievements, work experience, sports and creative achievements and ending with the financial situation of the family.

In addition, many students still have the opportunity to earn extra money while studying. Good - the schedule allows you to do it. “You do not need to go to a lecture every day, but two or three times a week, and, moreover, precisely on those days when it is convenient for you. Therefore, all American students work and get good money, ”thinks former Odessa student Nikolai Rekhtin, who is currently studying at the Manhattan Institute.

Former Odessa Nikolai Rekhtin gets education in New York. Photos from the personal archive

Former Odessa Nikolai Rekhtin gets education in New York. Photos from the personal archive

Free bonus

However, some American universities fully pay for the education of their students. There is only one requirement: you need to prove that you are worthy of their scholarship. Forum has selected five colleges where you can study absolutely free.

1.«Cooper Union"which offers study both to bachelor's and master's degrees, however only one thousand students study there.

2. «Macaulay Honors College" - part of SUNY (City University of New York). The scholarship is given only to potential bachelors who entered the university after school.

3. Yale School of Music - part of Yale University in Connecticut, offers programs for masters and doctors of science.

4. «Ozarks College« - A private college in Missouri, where you can get a bachelor's degree.

5. «Berea College« - a private college in Kentucky, which offers undergraduate education.

Every whim for your money

In addition, many universities offer programs without a degree (the so-called Extension or Continuing Studies courses), where you can either get a new specialty, or improve knowledge of existing ones. Training in such programs can last from several months to three years and cost from $ 300-400 to $ 10-20 thousands, depending on the specialty and the duration of the course.

Most often there are no special conditions for enrollment in these courses, they accept everyone, but sometimes they may require a bachelor's degree.

The advantage of such courses is that for relatively little money you can study at the best universities in America. For example, at Stanford the cost short courses starts with $ 300-400, in Berkeley small courses cost from $ 400-500, and certified programs - about $ 10 thousand, cost short course at Harvard - $ 1-2,5 thousands.

It is important to remember that you are not a student of this educational institution and do not receive any degree in the Extension and Continuing Studies programs.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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How to get a higher education in the US is almost free

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