Classes start around end of August or early September for Fall semester.  When would be the best time to arrive at university (how long before the orientation date)?

Ramprasad at FaceBook Fan Page

Does arriving the university earlier have any advantages in terms of meeting the professors and get any assistanships?
Also kindly let me know whether a professor will fund and make me as a part of his research only if I already have hands on experience in that topic or if even if i do not have experience but still if I show a good amount of interest with certain ground work will he will accept me.

When to Arrive at University

Consider 2 scenarios here  for arriving early

  • Part-Time Jobs
  • RA/TA positions
  • Mandatory International Student Orientation

Part Time Jobs (F1 Visa)

From my experience, only in few cases/universities you will have advantage to arrive at university/on-campus about 1 month in advance.

If there is going to be any part-time job opening, students from previous semester will be aware of the opening. When someone is about to quit their job, that person is very likely to refer his friends to that position. So, arriving one month ahead of your orientation date is not going to be of help you.

Having said that, if you happen to attend a university where lots of part time jobs are available, you will not have trouble finding one. Job will be available even if you arrive in July or in August.  Usually, universities  with large student population will have lots of part time jobs.  Also, if you arrive in advance and don’t find a roommate, you may have to pay full apartment rent for that month.


Very unlikely you are going to get RA/TA in first few days of arriving on-campus. I have seen few students get RA in first week on campus. RA jobs are not something you have to work under a professor. For instance, you can get RA job in different department as lab assistant.

If you don’t have RA/TA given to you with admission, you may have to work under a professor for 1 or 2 semesters, prove that you are capable of solving the research problem. Then professor will recommend you for TA or hire you as RA.

You don’t need previous experience to get Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant.

You have to volunteer (work for free) under a professor in your area of interest.

Impress your professor with your work ethics and produce results. He/She will be inclined to give you RA.

Student Orientation

All international students have to attend International Student Orientation. So, find the exact date of last orientation and plan to arrive oncampus before that.


See Also :  Can I Take Over $10,000 with me when flying to USA?


  1. vinay on May 16, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Hi HSB,

    As you said in your blog that you have lot more info on RA/TA ,could you elaborate on it please like how should we first approach a prof , should we ask him directly for RA or just show interest work for some months for free and then express our interest in RA , things like that would be extremely helpful.

    Thank you



  2. Niveditha on May 16, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    Okie, I understand, but why would someone want to do an RA/TA job when there is no money involved and we'll be in quite a lot of financial pressure as it is. Do they give you a fee waiver for a few subjects or something?

    Also how much will they pay us for part time jobs? How many hours are we allowed to do. Can you give more details about jobs.

    • HSB on May 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM
    • Andy on May 17, 2010 at 9:43 AM

      Well, the most commonly seen way a prof will give you RA/TA job is after seeing your performance. If you are good enough, and the prof has funds for his project, he will pay you money. But initially you will have to work for free (volunteer). Plus, working with a prof, although for free, will give you much-needed work experience and you might get a research paper out of your work or get a thesis out of it. And if you stay optimistic, you might get funding too (depending on the factors I mentioned above). Besides, isn’t that the reason you want to study in the US – to learn, do quality research and work in your area of interest?

      • HSB on May 17, 2010 at 7:18 AM

        @Andy – Well said.

  3. Karthikeyan S on May 16, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    The New Layout is great HSB! Keep up the good work!

  4. Abhinav Bondalapati on May 16, 2010 at 3:21 AM

    Although you might not get a job… it might be helpful in the sense that you could get used to the environment over there. Adjust to the timings, food and have some fun.

    @HSB: Like what you have done with the website. Its more clean and pleasing. 🙂

    • HSB on May 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM

      You have 2 to 3 years to get used to time, food, …:)

  5. ramprasad on May 15, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Hi HSB,
    Thanks a lot for writing this such a nice article in reply to my queries. It is really helpful as we have some good source of information to depend upon.

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