Choosing a College or University

YOUR FIRST LIST: Begin with institutions that offer the degree you seek in the broad subject area in which you wish to study. Consult reference guides recommended in the handout «List of Reference Books» to determine your major and select schools that offer programs in this area. Select schools that award the degree you wish to earn: associate, bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D.

Revise your first list considering the following selection criteria, eliminating those that are of no importance to you.

  • COST Look for tuition and fees, room, and board. You will need additional funds for books and miscellaneous living expenses.
  • SIZE Size affects an atmosphere of the school. A large institution may offer a greater variety of subfield within a given discipline, but at the same time, professors may be too busy with their own research to help you. A small university or college may offer smaller classes and more contact with professors, but the department in your field may be too small.
  • FACULTY AND THEIR RESEARCH It is important for graduate students to consider this criteria if they have done substantial research work and are interested in continuing it in the USA. Students can substantially benefit from making direct contact with researching professors. Students, applying for a graduate degree should keep in mind that they are evaluated and recommended for admission by a group of faculty members, rather than a central admissions office. The reputation of the department and its faculty is the thing to look for.
  • ENTRANCE DIFFICULTY AND RANK OF THE PROGRAM This is the point in which you should be honest with yourself concerning your own academic background and intellectual potential. They will determine how strongly you can compete for a very demanding program.
  • FINANCIAL AID Be sure the institutions you choose do offer financial aid. Scholarships usually go to the students with the best academic qualifications or special talent in sports or the arts (important at an
    undergraduate level), or significant research or work experience (at the graduate level).
  • LOCATION and HOUSING Consider which state the school is in and whether it is located inland or on the coast. What is the climate in that area of the country? Is the campus setting city, small-town, or rural?
    Is on-campus housing guaranteed? Is it available during the summer?
  • · TYPE OF INSTITUTION — two-year or four-year, public or private, religiously affiliated?

YOUR SECOND LIST: Eliminate those institutions that do not meet your criteria. For example, if you cannot afford more than $10,000 annually, then eliminate those institutions whose combined tuition and fees, room, and board come close to this amount, unless you are especially interested in that institution and you plan to seek financial aid (if available) . If you are determined to attend
an institution in a particular state or area of the country, eliminate those institutions that do not fit that category. If you are sure that you want to attend a small private school, this provides another criterion for elimination. You will now have a much shorter list of colleges from which to choose.

Select 20-35 institutions that appear to meet your needs. Write to the addresses given and request applications, general descriptive information, and a course catalog. Be sure to state your area of interest; request information
on extracurricular, cultural, and religious activities of importance to you; inquire about financial aid (if needed) and any international student services that are available; and ask if there are alumni of the college living in your area.

While you wait for the answers to your requests for further information, check with an adviser about which admission tests you are likely to need and register for them. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is generally required of all international students whose native language is not English. Most schools require the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) and three subject-oriented Achievement Tests (SAT II) of students applying to the undergraduate level. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General and GRE Subject are usually required from students applying to a graduate school, if they select majors other than Business. For those applying to graduate Business school there is a specific test — Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The combination of tests required for admission depends on the university’s admissions policy and may vary.

YOUR THIRD LIST: Review the materials that
you have received from US institutions, as well as any relevant catalogs that may be available in the advising center. Reduce your list to a few institutions by using the above mentioned criteria.