Reality check: Studying in US


The dream, the desire to go and study in the US seems never to leave the Nepalis. According to Institute of International Education, an independent non-profit exchange organisation in New York, the number of students enrolled in universities in US increased to 7,754 in 2006-07 from 6,061 in 2005-06. And if you plan to be studying there as well, here are a few facts you should check out before being US-bound.

The reality

“When it comes to studying in the US, the first thing is that you should start early and have a long term realistic planning. Plan your budget, think about how you will pay tuition fees and meet the living expenses, and US is quite expensive,” said Selena Malla, educational adviser, US Educational Foundation in Nepal (USEF), Gyaneswor. She adds that getting scholarships is difficult, but not impossible.

“Students can work on campus for 20 hours a week and you will be earning somewhere between $5-$8 an hour. That amounts to around $4,000-$5,000 a year,” said Malla. But this amount is certainly not enough to get you through the school year, so it is really necessary that you have a sound financial back up.

First things first

“It will take you at least from a year to a year-and-half to complete the application process. You should know when the application deadlines are, some may even

be around 10 months before the actual classes begin,”

says Gaurav Katwal, another educational adviser, USEF.

“Do it yourself right from the research to applying, and apply to at least 5-10 colleges,” he added.

Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the test dates as it will

surely take you a couple of months from registration to getting the results.

Bright side

“It is better to apply for

the Fall semester (August-September) as this is the beginning of the academic year

and chances of getting scholarships are higher,” advises Katwal.

Besides your scores, the other activities you have been involved in like music, sports or social service is always an added advantage while applying.

Some colleges also waive application fees for Undergraduate courses, so try to find that out while applying.

Testing times

Everyone needs to give TOEFL. For those applying for the Undergraduate courses and looking for scholarships, SAT is a must. Those applying for Graduate courses, management students need to give GMAT, while others need to give GRE tests.

“The exam one needs to be really careful about is SAT as it is taken only six times (days) a year, and if you miss it you’ll have to wait a whole year,” says Malla.

The next SAT exam is scheduled for October this year, dates will be announced soon.

Solving differences

You cannot get into a Graduate programme in the universities US with a three years Bachelor’s degree. So you have the choice of completing you Master’s and then applying, or applying as a transfer student to an undergraduate programme and getting a American Bachelor’s degree, which will take you from two to three years.

Points to ponder

According to Katwal, “Universities in the US try to get diverse, so if you can find one that a Nepali is not studying in, your chances of getting in are much higher.”

“A good way to save money is going for an Associate Degree from a community college in two years and then transferring to a college of your choice and complete your Bachelors,” says Malla. You will save around one-third of the amount you would spend on a four year college, but accommodation may be a problem in community colleges.

Get health insurance once you get there, which will cost you around $500-$ 1,000. It will save you a lot of money in case you get sick and need to go for a check-up.

What not to do

Sending your original certificates while applying. You may never see them again.

Don’t get photocopies attested in government offices. Get the photocopies attested at USEF, or authorities concerned like TU, KU.

Applying with fake certificates as they can be verified and if you are caught will be black listed in all colleges.

Rely on working off campus for your expenses. Working on a student visa is illegal

in the US.