Tue, 20 Aug, 2019

Planning to study in the US? Here’s a quick guide

By Rojan Maharjan

So basically, almost everyone asks themselves what they’re going to do after finishing their +2 or their +2 equivalent course. “What to do now?” Going to the US is one of the most common answers of many students nowadays. Staying in Nepal isn’t as obvious of an answer as one may think. Getting into the best colleges in Nepal, like Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk, or Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj is not within the reach of everyone. To get a seat in one of the “flagship” institutions, you will find yourself competing against around 15,000 other students. Other private institutions are still good options but the fees are just too expensive to justify the education they provide. And even after getting admitted into one of the colleges, Nepal provides its students with problems unheard of in any other country. Problems like strikes, load-shedding, strikes, disruption in public vehicles, politics within the college, etc.

So, if you are one of the people who plan to pursue their further education in the US, then this article is for you.

The most important thing you can do is start years and years ahead. Join challenging courses. Get good marks. Get as involved as you can in an area of interest. Develop a reading habit. Start writing. Things like these cannot be learned in just a few months. You’ll have to start developing these skills as early as you can. Having a strong high school percentage is very important and having good extra-curricular is crucial for getting into the top schools.

Then, take the standardized tests. Preparing and taking the tests are by far one of the most important things for your US education. Prepare well in advance and get the test dates as soon as possible. The test scores are valid for at least two years, so no matter which intake you are applying for, the scores will be useful. Most of the scholarships will also heavily depend on these scores, so take this very seriously. If you are planning to join an undergraduate program, take the SATs or the ACTs, and for graduate programs, take GRE or GMAT (depending on the subject you are pursuing). Along with one of the previous tests, take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. This is to show English proficiency mainly, not for scholarships. Payment for these tests can be done through a credit card or a bank.

After you get the Standardized tests out of the way, think about applying to colleges. Start searching for universities extensively. Websites like http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges and https://colleges.niche.com/ should help you get started. There are over 3000 educational institutes, so finding the right one will be quite a challenge. Then, start applying. Be aware of the deadlines. You can either apply through the common application or a similar service, or you can apply through mail. You’ll need documents like +2 transcript (or equivalent transcript), +2 certificate, Letter of recommendations, SLC mark sheet and certificate. These academic documents should be photocopied and given to USEF-Nepal (Gyaneshwor) for attesting. You need as many copies as the number of universities you plan on applying to. Then, you need financial documents; the bank balance certificate mainly. Send the test scores from its respective website. Apart from that, depending on the university, you’ll need to include the application fee, application form, medical documents, and your essay. Then you send all the documents to the university using a postal service. Don’t forget to check the university website for specific requirements.

After you’ve applied to the universities, you should get a confirmation from the university. And after that, you’ll have to wait weeks or even months to get an admission decision from the university. Then, after you’ve been accepted to the university, you will need to wait for the I-20 document to arrive. Don’t forget to inform the university about your location or where you want your documents to be sent.

After you’ve gotten your I-20 document, you can book a date for your student visa interview at the American embassy. Visit this website for more information. http://www.ustraveldocs.com/. Then, fill up the DS-160 form, and pay the SEVIS fee. During all this, prepare the financial documents too. You’ll need to take your academic documents, passport, I-20, DS-160 and SEVIS confirmation with you to the embassy. Documents which show proof of financial support for your education and extra-curricular activities which show strong determination towards your career should be taken to the embassy.

Finally, prepare for the interview itself. Be prepared to answer questions like Why this university, or why this particular major, or how will you pay for your education. Expect cross questions too and be prepared for it.

If you get approved for the VISA, inform the university. Book flight tickets early and research more about the university. Even if you don’t get approved for the VISA, don’t lose hope. You can book another interview appointment after 24 hours of your last one.

This entire process will be long and will feel overwhelming at times, and it is. All I can say to someone who is applying is to be focused and don’t lose your determination.