If you are considering studying in the USA but have no particular college in mind, then geographic location can, and should, influence your decision. The USA is vast, with diverse climates, cultures and topography, so choosing somewhere that suits your wants and personality is essential for a happy US college experience.
Here are a few ways to make that decision:
- Distance from home. As mentioned, the USA is vast; flying from one side to the other takes more than four hours. If you’re coming from the East to a Californian college for example, your journey is much longer and possibly more expensive. The cost of flights and length of journey can impact the amount of times you are able to fly home – which may or may not be a negative.
- Distance of campus from nearest airport – is something you should look at closely. There are many college campuses located “in the middle of nowhere”, which can mean an extra hour or more once you’ve landed at the nearest airport. Many colleges now have buses to shuttle students to and fro, but some don’t. The time and cost to get from airport to campus should be a factor. Information on campus location is found on the individual college web site.
- Location of campus. There are city colleges and very rural colleges in the USA. Coming from a small village doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t like an urban location, but it’s something to consider, as is the reverse. Urban campuses may offer better public transport options, but they may also have a higher cost of living. If you are hoping to find work or internships during the summer months, a rural campus may not offer much.
- Getting around on campus. Although most large campuses have some sort of transportation to ferry students around, your ability to travel further afield might be limited in very rural situations. Many American students on such campuses have their own car, but as an international student, this might not be an option for you.
- Weather. The weather across the USA differs enormously and can make you miserable if you’re not used to it. The northern states typically get very cold in winter and the winters are long. Southern states can be very hot and humid, but this only becomes challenging if you’re staying at college during the summer, which some students do. The US Climate Data web site gives monthly averages for each state, together with average precipitation and hours of sunshine.
- International Student presence. Although there’s not much point in studying abroad and mixing only with people from your own country, there is also something to be said for not being the only foreigner on campus. According to the US government’s data, California, Texas and New York have the largest numbers of international students. Individual college web sites will also give information on the number of international students on campus, together with the services the college offers, such as help with applications, visas and assistance once you arrive. Very small colleges with few international students may not be able to offer as much support as colleges with an established International Students Office.
Web sites such as Top Universities offer helpful information about many US colleges, as well as descriptions of their locations.
author of The Stress-free Guide to Studying in the States. Also find Toni on…