Being an international student, starting a new journey to pursue higher education from United States of America can be exciting, diversifying and transformative at the same time. USA tops the list in providing the best universities in the world.US is renowned for its top-notch universities, diverse culture and a vast variety of research opportunities. It attracts students from all the corners of the world. But which university to choose and on what criteria is the question that troubles lot of aspiring minds!
This comprehensive guide aims to navigate young and aspiring students towards the process of studying in US, covering all the necessary aspects from choosing the right university to helping one understand the exquisite American culture.

Top universities in the U.S:
The US is recognized as a global hub of the best universities in the world. Factors like academic reputation, Top notch faculties and diverse range of programs attributes towards the excellence of American Universities.
Read on as we unveil which US University ranked the highest in the most popular subjects amongst the students:

1.Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT),Cambridge, US ranks 1st in the QS world university rankings(2024) offering a wide range of master's programmes that includes Business administration, Art Design & Architecture, Computer Science & IT and many more.... 
2. Harvard University, Cambridge, US ranked 1st in both QS world university rankings as well as Academic Ranking of World Universities in the year 2023 and a rank 4 in World University Ranking by Times Higher Education. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world and an enrolment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
3. Stanford University, Stanford, US ranks 2nd & 5th in world university Rankings and QS world University Rankings respectively in the year 2024.Offers a varied variety of programmes including Social Science, Engineering & Technology, and Business Management. Stanford has been dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world. 
4. University of California, Berkeley, United States, was founded in 1868, born out of a vision in the State Constitution of a university that would "contribute even more than California's gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations."  Ranks 5th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
From 10 faculty members, 40 students and three fields of study at the time of its founding, UC Berkeley has grown to more than 1,600 faculty, 35,000 students and over 350 degree programs in 130 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units.

How much does it cost to study in US?
While United States comes out to be the most popular destination for international students, at the same time is also among the most expensive choices! But understanding the suitable course and planning your finances in advance can really help one to minimise their expense to a surprising pedestal. Universities in America are divided majorly into two parts-State/Public and Private. The cost of studying in public university is comparatively lesser than that of private universities. The expenditure on tuition fees can be controlled by the type of course and university one chooses.
On an average, Undergraduate tuition fee ranges $20,000 to $60,000 annually. Additional expenses such as accommodation, food, textbooks and transportation can cost between $15,000 to $20,000 per year. There is another addition of$1000 to $3000 annually, since international students are required to have health insurance.
In recent years, it has become easy for students to have a rough idea of the cost they can expect on studying in US. All US universities are now legally bound to include a Fee calculator on their websites that will allow students to get an estimate of the course they are willing to do and any kind of financial aid they may be eligible for!
Scholarship programs for Indian students-

Studying in US costs higher in general but there are many ways to cut down the cost. Applying a scholarship program can be one of the ways. Some of the most popular programs for Indian students are the Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship, the Inlaks Scholarship and the Tata Scholarship. In addition, many universities in the US offer financial help and scholarships for international students.

The cost of living in the US is also affected by the choice of region one choose to live. In general, living expenses are comparatively higher in urban areas than in rural areas. However, there are many ways to save money like taking up an accommodation on sharing bases, cooking your meals at home, using public transportation and shopping at discount stores.

Another way is to take up a part time job to support your finances as well as gain valuable work experience in a global market like US. International students make a significant contribution to the US economy, society, and culture. According to a survey by NAFSA, international students contributed 41 billion USD to the US economy and supported 458,290 jobs in the 2018-2019 academic year.

In US, Employment can be divided into two parts-On campus employment and Off-Campus employment.

On-campus employment includes work performed on the school’s premises directly for the school or for on-location commercial firms that provide services for students, such as the bookstore or cafeteria. On-campus employment does not require USCIS approval, but some schools may have their own restrictions or requirements.
Off-campus employment: International students can also apply for off-campus employment after completing their first year of study, through programs such as Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or Economic Hardship. These programs allow international students to gain work experience related to their field of study or financial need, for a maximum of 12 months (or 24 months for STEM majors). 

Visa application for Student Visa for USA-
Visa procedures for aspiring students can be complicated and time taking. International students need to obtain a student visa, for which you need a valid passport, proof of financial assisitance and a letter of acceptance from the applied university. Sometimes the visa application process can take months, so it’s better to start early!
There are two non-immigrant visa categories for students who wish to study in US.They are commonly known as the F and M visas.
To apply for either of the two visas you must fulfil the given criteria:
•    You must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program
•    Your school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement
•    You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution
•    You must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency
•    You must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study
•    You must maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of giving up.
F-1 student visa
The F-1 visa helps you to enter the US as a full time student at a recognized college, university, academic high school, elementary school or in a language training programme.

M-1 student visa 
         The M-1 visa includes students in vocational or other non-academic programs, other than              language training.

Culture in the US:
Culture in the US is diverse as well as rich in history. People from all over the world gather here to explore different aspects of the culture of US. Students, therefore have a lot of opportunities to socialize and take part in extra-curricular activities. Most of the universities have student’s organizations, cultural clubs, sports teams and lots of other activities and events. The US being the home of some of the renowned universities like Harvard, MIT and Stanford allows students to meet their fellows from all over the world. People here are friendly, helping and very adaptable.

Weather and Food:
Weather in the US varies widely depending upon the region. The north east areas experiences cold winters and hot summers while the south has a sub-tropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The Western coastal region has a Mediterranean climate with wet winters and dry summers. Texas has similar weather pattern like that of India. Whereas Florida, Louisiana and southern states have mean temperatures and subtropical weather that is similar to parts of north India. Arizona and California mostly have scorching hot and arid weather like Rajasthan. Hawaii and Puerto Rico, like the Andaman and Nicobar’s have a typical maritime tropical climate. Hawaii also has a mountainous interior. Alaska and all northern states of America are bone chilling cold like Jammu & Kashmir and the Himalayas.

Students Intake cycles and entrance exams in the US:
In contrast to India, there are three cycles in one academic year in US-Spring, Summer and Fall. Fall intake starts in late August or starting of September and is actually considered as the beginning of the Academic year! Spring intake in US starts in January and ends in May whereas summer intake starts in June. However, some universities also offer spring intake, with classes starting in January or February. 
New admissions are permitted in each of the three Intakes i.e. fall, spring and summer for international students while the registration process is available once a year. The fall intake is the best suited cycle for Indian students as it is well aligned with the Indian Academic Cycle.

Popular courses, Job prospects and starting Salary Package
Popular courses in the US includes Business administration, engineering, computer science, data science, business Analytics and medicine. These fields offer great job prospects and high starting salaries. 

1. Healthcare jobs top the list of the highest paid jobs. According to the US Bureau of labour statistics (BLS), employment in healthcare is expected to grow by 13% from 2021 to 2031 which will add for about 2 million new jobs.

2. Computer science graduates stay on the top among the best paying Jobs. A bachelor’s degree in computer science help students in attaining a detailed knowledge and skills of computer systems and networks. Most universities also offer courses in machine learning and data science. Estimated early career salary can be around $74,000 with a projected job growth for about 13%.

3. Accounting graduates learn the deep knowledge in accounting and financial management like auditing, cost accounting and transaction management. Students pursuing these degrees can also choose specializations like financial analysis, public accounting and forensic accounting.
Early career salary can start from $51,002 with a growth rate of about 7%.

4. Business Administration include the main concepts of marketing, human resources, finance and logistics.  Students pursuing these degrees may also take courses in leadership and organizational behaviour. Students can also choose to specialize in areas such as entrepreneurship, international business, and non-profit management. Starting salary can be expected from $51,489 with 8% of career growth.
5. A bachelor’s degree in finance can prove to be the real ice breaker in a students life. The degree includes courses in statistics, business law, taxation, and accounting. Degrees in economics and finance can offer focuses such as financial planning, corporate finance and asset management. Students can apply as financial managers, analysts and finance controllers with an early salary of about $76,000 and 6% of job growth.

6. Since society always needs healthcare workers to care for an aging population, nursing is one of the highest paying majors today. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) prepares students for careers as registered nurses (RNs) with higher compensation and managerial duties, compared to RNs with an associate’s degree in nursing (, n.d.).Having a BSN is also the first step to pursuing advanced studies in nursing, such as a Nurse Practitioner degree or a Clinical Nurse Specialist degree. Expected early salary can be for about $65,792 with a growth of about 9%.
7. Software engineering and software development can also be one of the few high paying job prospects as digital transformation is constantly asking for qualified software engineers and software developers. A bachelor’s degree in software engineering trains students in competencies like application development, programming, and database management. In most universities, this bachelor’s degree also builds on core mathematical concepts. Early expected salary can be $88,150 with an incredible job growth of about 22%.
In order to choose the right course, you should align your interests also keeping in mind the trends in the industry.

Overall, the US offers a friendly environment for international students to pursue top courses in the most promising universities. Studying in US can be a life changing experience both personally and professionally. US remains to be the top destination for Indian students who are looking for a high quality education.

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