If you want the very best education available, or if you want to further your career by working with top professionals in your field, the U.S is the place for you. An education in the States is the best preparation for achieving your professional goals. America has a lot to offer to international students: the highest-ranked education in the world, renowned universities, natural parks, vibrant cities, a multicultural population, artistic and athletic events… the U.S has it all!

On the whole, the U.S is a dynamic and exciting place. Academic freedom is a hallmark of U.S. universities. Flexible course schedules and the freedom to select their own course loads allow students to structure their studies to best fit their needs. There are many opportunities for participating in activities with other students, for example excursions to new cities, museum visits, ski trips, hiking, and others. U.S. educators want to help students become open, knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals who full their potential and make positive contributions in their communities and professions.

We believe America offers international students the most rewarding and comprehensive array of study options - anything from astronomy to zoology, engineering to African dance - institutions in America offer something for everyone. An education in the U.S will provide the skills to deliver quality services and bean asset in any part of the world. Students return home confident, well-informed, and articulate global citizens with invaluable skills that are marketable in the real world.

College search: How to select the right match

When you are looking for the right university, you should start by first looking within to determine your goals, interests, and abilities. Then start compiling a list of colleges based on their curricula, eligibility criteria, costs and the availability of financial aid, college type and its location, size and environment.

You will want to consider applying to a variety of different schools, including “safety schools,� -which are colleges that are very likely to accept you and that you'll be happy to attend; “match schools,� where your profile matches the profile of the college's average student; and “dream schools,� where the process of selection is extremely competitive. But we do not advise students to apply to too many schools, because that can get too time-consuming and expensive.

Years ago, collecting all this information was a big challenge, but now you can find all of this information online. Resources like College search engines, College Web sites, virtual campus tours, and online college catalogs and guide books are great sources of information. There also are college profiles on online social networks.

How much does it cost to study in the U.S.?

The cost of tuition can range from as little as $7000 a year to $40,000 or more a year. State (public) universities are generally, but not always, less expensive than private institutions. Community colleges are usually less expensive than colleges and universities.

How do financial aid and scholarships factor in?

The terms "scholarships" and "financial aid" are sometimes used interchangeably, but are different. A scholarship is a financial award based on merit, including outstanding academic performance, special talent in sports or performing arts, or perhaps community service or leadership. Financial aid is a "needs-based" grant based on the student's financial need. There is financial aid available to international students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Graduate students can get financial aid in the form of research and teaching assistantships. Fellowships are offered to students with proven academic records, regardless of their citizenship.

How can the cost of education be reduced?

Look for colleges that offer the highest quality education at the lowest cost.

Becoming a resident assistant in a dormitory means substantial savings in living costs. Working in the dining hall offers a modest salary plus "all you can eat" meals!

Living off campus with a relative or friend saves money if suitable accommodation is available and public transport is efficient.

Students can save thousands of dollars in tuition by attending community colleges for the first two years and transferring to four-year institutions to complete their degrees.

Based on the first-year grades, some colleges award partial tuition waivers. A superior academic record can be the ticket to savings.

Which standardized tests are required for admission?

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required by most colleges and universities for admission of international students whose native language is not English. Many academic institutions have started accepting IELTS in lieu of TOEFL. The admissions offices of individual universities will know if they will accept IELTS. Good scores on standardized tests may help students get financial aid such as teaching or research assistantships.

The SAT Reasoning Test (Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test for in the United States at the undergraduate level. The test is intended to assess a student's readiness for college. Possible scores range from 600 to 2400, combining test results from three 800-point sections (Mathematics, Critical Reading and Writing).

GRE(Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test which measures the thinking and reasoning skills of students in Math and English. Most of the universities in the U.S. require GRE scores for admission to Master's or Doctoral study programs. Higher GRE score also may give an edge to students seeking financial assistance.

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools commonly use the test as selection criteria for admission into graduate business administration programs. In Pakistan, GRE/GMAT is administered as aCBT (Computer-based test), so basic computer skills are needed.

What is campus life in the U.S. like?

The friends and experiences that students gain during their stay in the U.S. are worth as much as the education itself. Most U.S. universities have centralized campuses where students live, work, study and socialize. A good social life is important for student success. Recreation and friends contribute to a balanced life. Crossing borders to study is a unique and powerful experience, and many international students are encouraged to create clubs or groups that will enhance the college environment.

Participating in campus life is a good way to find friends. Most colleges and universities offer a wide array of clubs and organizations, from cultural associations, sports teams and sports clubs, volunteer service organizations, fraternities and sororities, student government, academic societies, music and theater groups, and student newspapers.

What is an F-1 student visa?

The F-1 student visa is one of the most flexible Non-Immigrant Visas (NIV). It is a multiple entry visa. The F-1 student visa is for those who want to study or conduct research at an accredited U.S. college or university. An F-1 visa gives students the freedom to work in order to finance their studies. F-1 students are allowed to work on campus for as many as 20 hours a week during fall and spring semesters and as many as 40 hours a week during summer semesters. F-1 visa students have to attend university full time during fall and spring semesters, but are not required to take any classes during summer.

Students who have been accepted at a U.S. school and are able to pay the full costs of their study are eligible to apply for a student visa. To qualify for a student visa, a student needs to demonstrate his/her qualifications as a student and should be prepared to discuss the reasons for studying in the United States and the details of the intended studies. Just as applicants for Visitor Visas, students also must establish that they are not intending immigrants to the United States.

Students can find all the information they need to apply for a U.S. visa on the U.S. Embassy Web site at: http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/niv_student_visas.html. We encourage students to begin the student visa process as soon as they are accepted in order to ensure sufficient time for visa application and processing.

With the new electronic visa application form, the process to obtain an F-1 student visa has been simplified. You will need a valid passport, proof of financial support, standardized test scores, mark-sheets and an I-20 or DS-2019. An I-20 or DS-2019 is a supporting document for the issuance of an F-1 visa. Once a student accepts an admission offer from a U.S. university, he/she receives an I-20 or DS-2019. The F-1 visa also permits students to transfer to different universities once they are in the United States. And F-1 students are able to travel to other countries from the U.S. to enjoy spring and summer holidays.

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