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Have you ever wondered if you should study abroad in America? As a current college student in America, I can safely say that it is not exactly what you see through the media. College is a big steppingstone for all young adults looking to further their education as it is typically the first sense of real freedom they get. It is important to find the right college fit for you to enjoy these formative years.
As I am reaching the halfway point of my undergraduate, I realize how different college life is compared to university life or college in the United Kingdom. I went ahead and compiled a list of the pros and cons for studying in the USA for any students thinking about it!
Pros and Cons of Study Abroad in America
It is hard to determine what the advantages of studying in the USA would be if you’ve never even been to the USA. However, there are over 5,000 colleges in America! Nationwide, we have a variety of environments from the desert to big cities and college towns to colleges on the beach.
It is clear to see that if a study abroad in America is the right choice for you, you’ll easily be able to find your perfect dream college that is the right size and in the location you desire. Which just leaves the question – why should I study abroad in America?
Experience and Travel:
Studying abroad in the USA would give you a ton of firsthand experience with travelling. America is similar enough to the UK that travelling and living here is not an extremely hard adjustment while also being completely different from what you already know.
You are far from your family which means they are not around to watch your every move giving you independence throughout college. Plus, you’re able to travel all around the USA when you go to college here. You’ll make friends all over the country who would invite you to visit their homes – but they’ll probably want to visit yours, too!
Sports in college come in a great variety. Everyone knows the Division 1 sports because they are constantly televised nationwide! Many people have favourite college sports football teams, basketball teams, and so on.
Sometimes, people focus even more on college sports than the professional ones which just shows how deep America’s love for college sports go. However, NCAA Division 1 sports are not the only sports that exist. There are also Division 2, Division 3 (which I am apart of!), NAIA, and all schools even have some sort of club sports.
The way that schools are divided into Divisions is based on one thing: money. To simply break it down, Division 1 players are typically on an athletic scholarship. Schools are even able to give out full rides to some athletes, which means they do not pay anything for college. Division 2 has a little less money to give out, Division 3 is not allowed to give out athletic scholarships but are still able to give our merit scholarships. NAIA is similar a separate association from the NCAA but much smaller. Club sports are in all colleges and do not recruit or give out scholarships.
People can try out once being on campus, giving you an opportunity to
continue playing a sport you love or trying out for a sport you’ve always wanted to tryout.
It is safe to say that throughout the nation, there are plenty of schools that will give you a renowned education. You can certainly find one that is a good fit for you! In America, the most prominent and world-renowned schools are typically known as the Ivy League schools and include places such as Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and so on. These colleges are typically some of the hardest to get into as
about 5% of students get accepted into them.
This should not destroy your opinion of other American colleges that are not part of the Ivy League. There are many schools outside of the Ivy League which are still hard to get into and known for the education they give.
The rigour and reputation that goes into your college choice should not be the only factor considered.
Longer college experience:
College degrees in America typically last around four years. Obviously, some degrees take a longer time, but it is typical for someone to spend four years of their young adult life in college to get a Bachelor’s degree. You can even study abroad in America to get an Associate’s degree, which takes two years.
While this gives you an extra year of school and studying, it also gives you an extra chance to avoid adulthood – a fulltime job, bills to pay, acting like an adult. People always say that your college years fly by. I may only be in my sophomore (second year), but I can already attest that it is true. It feels like just yesterday I was on my way to my freshmen orientation, extremely
excited for my four years to come.
Variety of subjects:
One of the coolest things about American education is that you have the freedom to take classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your major! If you study abroad in America, you will quickly learn all about the way that credits align with classes. You have a certain number of credits that you need to complete to earn your degree, which is why these classes are not a complete waste of your time.
Most of these classes can fit into what is referred to as General Requirements and work towards your diploma. Because I go to a smaller school, there are fewer obscure classes. However, many of my friends who go to bigger schools have mentioned some of their choices ranging from
“Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse”, “To Hogwarts, Harry”, and “Intro to Beer and Wine” (cool, right?).
Obviously, these classes vary depending on the college and extend far beyond the list above. Even at my small college, I was able to take a course which was entitled “Global Issues in Women and Children’s Health” that I really enjoyed taking even though it did not directly correlate to my nursing studies.
While the number of cons of studying abroad in America are much less in number, I can see how they can weigh more heavily into one’s decision. I can go on and on about the amazing aspects of college in America and how much I would recommend it, but it doesn’t matter if these cons stop you from study abroad in America.
One con of studying abroad in America is certainly the distance. Even if you have been away from home for extended periods of time, college can be a completely different story. You are completely packing your life up and moving into a brand-new place for months at a time!
If you are quite fond of being home and around family, maybe a study abroad in America is not the right idea for you. The cost of flights would end up adding up if you felt the need to constantly visit home.
And while thinking about the cost of flights, let’s discuss the American college tuition. The cost of college in America is not low number. Even with scholarships and help from family, paying for an America education is significantly harder than paying for an education in the UK.
While it depends on which college you attend and the scholarships you are granted, it is typical for a college student to pay somewhere from $20,000 to $40,000 a year. This is not something to be taken lightly as this amount of money is not something most families have lying around. This number may go down if you can find the right scholarships (check out Scholarships for College Students for some ideas!), but they likely will not cover the full cost.
Obviously, these cons may be too much for some to consider a full four years of study abroad in America. If that’s the case, you can look into semester-long study abroad opportunities! With this path, your college location choices become much smaller, but it is certainly easier on the wallet. So, maybe you’re still asking, “why should I study in American?”. In short: it is an awesome experience with opportunities for young adults. But it certainly is not for everybody. It is important to look over all your options and find the best fit for you.
And if the cost and distance is too much, you can always find a suitable fit in the UK!
Check out this post on The Unpredicted Page for what university life is really like! Have you ever considered a study abroad in America? If you have, what’s holding you back from doing it?
About the Author
Alex Marie is a nursing student from Los Angeles, California. She writes at by Alex Marie where she discusses tips and tricks for college, the truth about the college lifestyle, and dealing with mental illness. Alex is currently a sophomore at Endicott College.
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