Frequently Asked Questions
ISSUES, DOUBTS AND QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE BEFORE MOVING TO THE U.S.
How much time goes by from the moment you decide to leave until you actually leave?
Usually, if the process doesn’t take too long, the departure of a student can be organized up to 4 months before the beginning of the academic year. But it can vary a lot, so the sooner you initiate the process the better. Many people, especially athletes, start organizing their departure 2-3 years ahead, since the top universities start their recruitment process years prior to the beginning of the season.
What type of visa do I need to be able to study in the U.S.?
To pursue a career or do a master’s degree you need an F1 Visa, whereas to participate in an exchange program you will need a J1 Visa.
What is the difference between the F1 Visa and the J1 Visa?
The F1 Visa is a visa for individuals who want to study full-time in the U.S. at a university or a higher education institution. The J1 Visa is a visa for non-immigrants issued for individuals who want to visit the U.S. under a work program, or as short-term students or scholars.
What is the difference between “college” and “university”?
A “college” only offers graduate programs, whereas a “university” offers graduate programs and post-graduate programs, but generally both terms are used indistinctly.
What is a “Community college” or “Junior college”?
In the U.S., a “Junior college” is a university that offers a 2-year graduate program that’s usually equivalent to the first two years of a regular university graduate program. In other words, the first two years of a university study program.
Is there an age limit to get into a university in the U.S.?
Generally speaking, you must have completed High school and be at least 17 years old.
What does the academic calendar of a U.S. university look like?
The academic year usually starts in August and ends in May with relevant holidays and days off. Most of the universities use the semester system (two terms of approximately 4 months each), a quarter system of four terms, which includes an optional summer term, and a quarter system of three terms.
What is the difference between “undergraduate” and “graduate”?
The “undergraduate” program is the one you enroll in right after finishing High school. In the U.S., you can enroll in an “associate degree” (2 years) or in a “bachelor’s degree” (4 years). The “graduate” program, on the other hand, is the one you can enroll in after finishing your associate or bachelor’s degree. With this program you can pursue a master’s degree or Ph.D.
When does the academic year start?
You can start your academic year in mid-August or at the beginning of January.
What requirements do I need to obtain a scholarship?
Scholarships are easier to obtain than one may think. The higher your academic standard, the better chances you will have to get a scholarship. The same goes for artistic, sport or e-sport scholarships; the higher your standard, the better scholarship you may get.
What if I get sick while overseas?
You always have the possibility to go to a hospital or health clinic in the U.S. International students are required to purchase the student insurance offered by the universities. However, students are also encouraged to travel with a travel insurance.
Which measures have been taken by the universities in the U.S. regarding the COVID pandemic?
Each state has implemented their own security measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. The universities have taken the necessary measures offering many online classes and other alternative means in order to reduce contact between students and avoid the spread of the virus.
How is the eligibility of an athlete in the U.S.?
The athletes who want to compete in U.S. universities need to meet a variety of requirements in order to be certified to compete. The evaluation process is called “Initial Eligibility” and is carried out before the athlete starts a university degree. The various university leagues are governed by different standards of eligibility that ensure that you are ready to be successful at their universities. The eligibility process also ensures justice and integrity of the intercollegiate sports making sure that the student-athletes are amateurs.
DEFINITION OF SEVERAL CONCEPTS YOU WILL USE OFTEN FROM NOW ON
What is I-20?
I-20 is a government form issued by the host university that informs the government of the United States that you are qualified to have an F-1 student status. You will need it to apply for the F-1 Visa.
What is TOEFL?
TOEFL means Test Of English as a Foreign Language. It’s an exam to evaluate your ability to speak and understand the English language in an academic environment. It’s commonly used to certify if a student has the required level to study at an English-speaking university.
What is IELTS?
The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) certificate consists of an exam intended to assess the knowledge and abilities of an individual in four different key aspects of the English language: reading, writing, speaking and comprehension.
Which of the two exams shall I take? TOEFL or IELTS?
It depends on the specific requirements of each university. Generally speaking, TOEFL is the exam of choice to get into the universities.
What are ESL classes?
The ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are English classes intended to teach a variety of language skills to non-native speakers. The Community colleges and High schools offer these classes to international students who don’t have the required level to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams.
What is SAT?
SAT is the entrance exam that most of the universities of the U.S. use to accept students. SAT is a multiple choice exam designed to evaluate how prepared a High school student is before entering university.
What is ACT?
ACT is a U.S. university entrance exam which is made up of four sections with a time limit, reaching a total of 2 hours and 55 minutes. There are a total of 215 multiple choice questions regarding science, math, reading and language. The writing section is optional, and adds 40 minutes to the duration of the exam. On each section you receive a score from 1 to 36. The scores are averaged out in all four sections to obtain the end result.
Which of the two exams shall I take? SAT or ACT?
It depends on the specific requirements of each university. Generally speaking, SAT is the exam of choice to get into the universities.
What is GPA?
GPA (Grade Point Average) is a number used by the U.S. universities that indicates the academic performance of the students. The highest obtainable score is 4.0.
DO YOU WANT TO WORK IN THE U.S. DURING OR AFTER FINISHING YOUR STUDIES? FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE FOLLOWING TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
What is Work-Study?
The Work-Study program grants financial assistance based on the financial needs of the students and enables them to do part-time jobs in order to pay for their advanced studies. It’s a way of paying less academic fees in exchange of working on campus.
What are RAs?
RAs (Resident Assistants) are graduate and post-graduate students who live in student dorms and become part of the university staff teams. RAs are provided with free housing and meal plans in exchange of their work on campus. They help support the academic success, social development and personal growth of the students by establishing programs and creating experiences within the university.
What are GAs?
GAs (Graduate Assistants) are post-graduate students who perform a support role at the university, usually while pursuing their own post-graduate education. GAs usually help out the professors with their educational activities as teaching assistants, or with their investigational activities as research assistants or sports team assistants. They can also work as employees in other university departments (such as housing or academic counselling). Generally speaking, the GAs get their post-graduate classes paid in exchange for their work.
What is CPT?
CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a temporary program which allows international students with an F-1 Visa to gain work experience directly related to their studies through work contracts or paid and unpaid internships.
What is OPT?
OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a time period during which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) enable graduate and post-graduate students with an F-1 Visa, who have completed their studies or have been studying for more than nine months at the university, to work for a maximum of one year with a student visa to carry out a practical training to support their field of study.
What is STEM-OPT?
Certain F-1 students who have received an academic degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can apply for an extension of their Optional Practical Training (OPT) for up to 24 months.