This blog post is the second of a three-part series of articles on How to Select U.S. Universities.
- How to Select US Universities – Part 1
- How to Select US Universities – Part 2 (this article)
- How to Select US Universities – Part 3
You may have more than one dream universities to apply at, but you can attend only one school. You have to analyze each university methodically to shortlist your universities.
Most students don’t ask the following questions while selecting U.S. universities. They end up in some schools that don’t offer the program of their choice (or provide aid, etc.).
1) Cost of US Education
The first major factor is to select the university that you can afford. In worst case scenarios, you have to pay for 2 years’ expense. You have to ask some tough questions here with respect to affordability.
2) Tuition fees
In-State fees vary among university systems. For example, at the University of Texas System, if you get RA, TA, or scholarship, you are eligible to pay in-State fees.
And the in-States fee at the University of Texas is 1/3rd of out-of-State fees.
Example: Out of State fee = $6,000, then an in-State will be $2,000.
In some colleges, you don’t need to pay anything, sometimes less than $1,000, for health insurance and other small fees when you get in-State fees.
Example: At the University of Memphis, the out-of-State fee is $5,000, so the in-State fee will be less than $1,000.
If the in-State fee is a minimal fee, then HP = 10
If the in-State fee is 1/3rd of the out-of-State or less, then HP = 5
If you have admission with 100% RA/TA/scholarship, then HP = 10
If you have you have partial scholarship/RA/TA, then HP = 7
If you have like $1,000 to $4,000 in Aid, then HP = 5
No RA/TA/Scholarship, then HP = 0.
4) Part Time Job
Inquire among current students about the availability of part time jobs.
If almost all students can get a part-time job, then HP = 10
If 50% of students can get a job, then HP = 5
If very few part time jobs are available, then HP = 0.
As an international student, you are eligible to work for 1 year in CPT (Curriculum Practical Training). Students usually get internship during summer, but some schools allow students to work for 2 full semesters like UTA and UTD.
You must find out if the university that gave you admission allows students to do internship and how long is it allowed. Kansas State University allows students only in Summer in CPT. Whereas UTA allows students to do internship for 2 semesters (like Summer and Fall, Fall and Spring, or Spring and Fall).
Next, you have to ask if the internship is under CPT or OPT (Optional Practical Training). If the school allows internship under CPT, then you are okay.
If the school allows internship under your OPT, then it’s NOT okay to attend that school.
Take for example Clemson University. Its internship is under OPT, which is not good. I will explain in detail in a later post what is OPT and CPT.
So this is how HP has to be filled for this field:
Schools that allow internship for more than 1 semester in CPT = 10
Schools that allow internship during Summer only in CPT = 5
Schools that allow internship in OPT = 0
School doesn’t allow any internship = 0.
6) Jobs after M.S.
For majority of colleges and universities, students have to look for jobs after graduating.
Colleges and universities typically hold career fair at least one a year, where companies visit campuses to collect resumes and sometimes conduct on-site interviews.
However, the actual number of companies that participate in career fairs is typically small. Some universities like NCSU have a very high profile career fairs.
If the college has a campus recruitment program, then HP = 10
If you have to look for jobs on your own, then HP = 8
If majority of students find jobs through consultants, then HP = 3.
For example, I have heard that in NJIT, majority of students don’t search for jobs. After they graduate, most usually join some consultancy firms. That’s not a good sign.
It is the student’s responsibility to search for a job. If you are willing to put considerable efforts, you can expect the job offer to knock on your door. But without applying for jobs, then I’m sure students will have a tough time.
I know I was little harsh on the above statement, but I have seen so many people who, after graduation, didn’t apply for any job proactively and just end up joining some consultancy firms.
(How do consultancy firms work? Well, that’s another topic to talk about in detail.)
Next: How to Select Universities for USA (Part 3).