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As an international student researching colleges abroad, you may be asking yourself one of the biggest questions: Why study in the United States? There are many great reasons to study in the U.S., according to Janet Turner, Center Head and Senior Advisor at EducationUSA in Ahmedabad, India. A few of the top ones? American universities give international students flexibility, access to a wider variety of subjects, and valuable job opportunities.

Turner’s team at EducationUSA advises 250-300 students a year on how to apply to college in the United States. Her expert advice helps students just like you make informed decisions. If you’re deciding whether to study in the United States, Turner recommends that students ask themselves a few key questions before deciding to study in the United States.

1. What do I hope to accomplish by studying in the United States?

Earning a degree should be just one of the things you hope to accomplish. You should have clear reasons for wanting to earn that degree in the United States. Are you looking for exposure to many different cultures and ways of thinking? Do you want to study a subject that isn’t widely offered in your home country? Are you seeking an internship opportunity to gain international work experience?

Whatever your reason, you should be able to clearly explain it. Your visa interviewer will expect you to have a good answer to the question: “Why do you want to study in the United States?”

Turner says that students in science, technology, engineering and medical fields can get special benefits from studying in the United States. These subjects make up the STEM field, which is in high demand in the United States. The United States is home to many universities that offer unique research opportunities to students in these fields. Students may get involved in research that makes fundamental contributions to STEM.

Another benefit for STEM students is the Optional Practical Training extension. Students who apply for get an OPT extension can extend their visa for an additional 24 months. During this time, a student can work for a STEM employer in the United States without applying for a separate work visa.

2. How will I pay for my education in the United States?

A degree from a U.S. university is valuable – especially when it comes to job outcomes and future salary potential. Studying in the U.S. also gives you access to leading faculty, academic curriculum, diverse people and new experiences.

To get this kind of experience, you’ll need to be able to pay your tuition, housing, and expenses. Both your school and your visa investigator will check to make sure that you have the funds to pay for admission costs, dorm stay, meal plans, etc.

Are you sponsored by a company or government body in your home country? Are you paying for tuition yourself? Are your parents paying for your degree? Are you relying on loans and scholarships? How you will pay for your degree is an important consideration in your decision process.

3. Do my test scores and grades make me a competitive applicant?

U.S. universities are selective. Because so many students want to study in the United States, you will need to prove you can succeed at U.S. universities. Doing well means keeping up academically, having strong English language skills, and being excited to learn.

There are more than 4,000 degree-granting institutions in the United States. Some you have most likely heard of. Others you may not. Some of these lesser known schools may be a perfect fit for your interests, while better-known schools will have many more applicants. Look for a university that is the right fit for you, rather than one with the greatest name recognition. This variety of choices is one of the things that attracts many international students to study in the United States.

Have more questions? Ask an admissions counselor for help choosing your best-fit university.