College in the USA: 5 things you need to know

College in the US: 5 trivia you need to understand

Some of the educational institutions in the United States are among the best in the world. And their operation is quite different from higher education in Brazil. This ranges from the forms of admission to the way the schedules work. You can understand how a college works in the USA with the following five curiosities.

1 Form of Entrance

To get into a college in the USA, it is not enough to just take a test, such as the National High School Exam, Enem, which we have today in Brazil. It is necessary to go through a selection process that basically takes into account your entire school history, including extracurricular activities. Admission to college in the USA also considers the candidate's profile, personality, and even manners. All of this influences whether or not the candidate is approved by the institutions.  

The Process

However, each university has its own particularities. For example, some may ask for letter of recommendation from friends and teachers, others have the own online system for submitting scores. Regardless of the model, after filling out these forms, it is necessary to prove the exam scores. These are equivalent to the ENEM, such as the SAT, ACT or SAT II. The TOEFL and IELTS English proficiency tests are also essential.

The essays and letters of recommendation are required in order for the candidate to show the desired university who he is, beyond his academic achievements. After going through all these steps it is time for the student to attend an interview with an alumnus of the institution. This way, he/she reinforces in person what was shown in the previous steps and aligns future expectations with that educational institution.

2 How do the deadlines work?

The regular study period in the United States begins between August and September. Applications usually begin in December of the previous year and approval results are released in March. After that, the deadlines for enrollment open. The vacancies that were not filled in the first call are offered to a waiting list previously formed.

3 Teaching system

Once accepted, the student chooses a general and a specific area of study that he/she wishes to pursue, called major. The major is the course in which the student wants to major. In this way, it is possible to experience many opportunities and approaches until one moves on to the final goal.

For the undecided you can select the option undecided major. This is the young person's chance to enter college and try out different areas until they can align themselves with what they really want to do professionally.

The classes

College spaces in the US resemble campus of Brazil's federal universities. Classes are held in different buildings. In other words, it is necessary to move from one class to the next.

In the first two years of the course the student is dedicated to the study of general subjects corresponding to his area of study, these are called core classes.

What is studied in these first two years is not always directly related to the career one wishes to pursue. Nevertheless, this knowledge is important for the human and personal development of future professionals. The following areas are included: sciences, arts, physical education, music, religion, business, etc.  


In addition to the major, the student may choose a career path minor to follow. It is as if it were a secondary degree in which the future professional can also work.

Many students choose to pick areas in the minor that they have a personal interest in, such as a opportunity to expand learning experiences. But this does not necessarily correlate with the major chosen. However, some other students choose to choose some complementary area. This is in case they want to pursue graduate studies and a doctorate in the future.


4 Ivy League

The Ivy League is a group made up of eight of the most prestigious universities in the United States. These are: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale.

Created in 1954, the Ivy League was the sporting association of these institutions. Today it is synonymous with academic excellence in relation to colleges in the United States.  In addition, Ivy League universities are also among the best in the world and have the most financial resources. They receive between $3 billion and $38 billion in annual donations. Some of the alumni who have attended Ivy League institutions are Barack and Michele Obama, Meryl Streep, Martin Luther King, and more than 300 Nobel Prize winners.

It would be amazing to study at one of these colleges in the USA that is so prestigious, wouldn't it? The best of all is that all Ivy League universities accept applications from students from other countries for their programs. They even offer financial aid opportunities.

5 How much does it cost to go to college in the USA?

Ivy League universities are much more expensive. For example, the annual cost to study at Harvard is US$ 44,990, plus US$ 3,959 in fees and US$ 800 to US$ 1,200 in books.

Those who pass the application process and prove that they cannot afford the short fees can get up to 100% scholarship discounts. About 70% of the institution's students currently have some kind of scholarship.

Generally speaking, for the other institutions a foreign student can spend an average of  US$ 15,000 to US$ 30,000 a year in the private ones and from US$ 10,000 to US$ 20,000 a year in the public ones.  


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Public and Private College in the USA

In the USA, the best universities are the paid ones. In fact, many of them are among the best in the world, such as the Ivy League. However, American public universities are also fee-paying. And for students from other states the fees are even higher. This is because it is understood that students from that location contribute to the local tax collection, while students from other states contribute elsewhere. These students are called out-of-state students.


Many more questions answered

After all these curiosities it is easier to understand how the education system of a college in the USA works. Moving to an American university for your children can be very smooth with our help. Would you like to talk more about it? We are available to answer all your questions about life in the USA and also to find the ideal home for you.

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