Study in United States

30 December 2023 - 6:27 pm

The United States is the first country to welcome foreign students. They have 4,000 universities, some of them very prestigious (Harvard, Stanford, etc.), and more than 8,000 French people study there every year. If the urge to go also touched your mind, here is the steps to take before attempting the experiment.

Can we leave after the ferry? If you are already a student, how are university exchanges going? When and how to prepare your applications? What are the steps to take, visas and insurance to get? Can we easily find a home, a student job, or an internship? Here are the tips of Céline Ouziel, advisor to the Fulbright French-American Commission, as well as numerous links to articles on this topic, published by Le Monde Campus and Courrier Expat.

Leaving for post-baccalaureate studies

For a young person who wishes to carry out his post-baccalaureate studies in the United States, two solutions are available to him: the best known (and expensive) is that of applying to a university, the second being to enroll in a community college, curriculum in two years after the bac, much more accessible.
This course lasts four years, with a particularity, there is no obligation to choose the main discipline during its first two years. “At 17, Americans do not usually know what they want to do. So they try a lot of things during their first two years of school, “explains Céline Ouziel. This is called general education – very varied teachings such as history, literature, science, mathematics, and so on.

Specialization takes place in the third year only.

Before applying, you should know that the US federal system allows each state to decide its own policy, with public universities that it funds, and other private, with much higher tuition fees. In both cases, an application file is required (as for American high school students) one or two years in advance.
Prepare an associate’s degree in a community college. This is a two-year training, which presents two interests for a young French: “To upgrade in the different subjects if we have gaps and deepen his English with specific courses,” says the counselor. The fees are relatively lower, a student can not claim the American stock exchanges.

Universities provide a strong influence on the cities where they are located. This is the case of Boston, home to a hundred university institutes, including Harvard and MIT (subscriber-only) or Pittsburgh, the former capital of steel (subscribers). In order to boost their capacity without leaving the city centers, leading business schools, particularly in New York, are embarking on bold projects.

Apply for university exchange

A student who has started his studies in France can also leave (read the testimony of our blogger Guillaume Ouattara, a student in engineering school), provided that his university or large school has signed agreements with American faculties. You should check with the international relations department of your institution, which organizes one or more orientation days on this topic every year.
It is possible to leave at license 3 (after a bac + 2), preparing his file a year in advance. Transmit transcripts (translated into English), pass the Toefl (a test to know the level of English) and write a letter of motivation (in English). In some cases, letters of recommendation are also required. A selective process, the number of places is limited but much more economical in terms of tuition fees.

Enroll in master without university exchange

After obtaining a license in France, a student can go to do a master’s degree in the United States without going through a university exchange. There is however a nuance, entry to a master in an American university is in the fifth year and not in fourth as in France. “Admissions are on a case-by-case basis for international students. Some admissions officers consider that the license is the equivalent of the American bachelor’s degree and the student will then be eligible to enter a master’s degree. But other universities, especially the most selective, will first want the student to have at least a master 1, or a master 2 in France before he can integrate their masters, “explains Céline Ouziel. An admission file must be created, for a bachelor’s degree.

Tuition and budget

Studies in the United States are, in any case, a costly investment between airline tickets and life on-site, often combined with high tuition fees.

For those who leave in individual, except agreement inter Universitaire, it is necessary to regulate the inscription (tuition and fees) of the American university. If it is private, it takes almost $ 50,000 (47,000 euros) per year. If it is public, the cost is $ 15,000 (14,200 euros) to more than 35,000 dollars (33,200 euros). In a community college, it’s about 7,000 dollars (6,600 euros). “Each year, these costs increase by about 3%,” says Ouziel.

For a year of study at a university, the total budget varies between $ 30,000 and $ 70,000 (€ 28,400 to € 66,300) all-inclusive. The student will be eligible for an American scholarship (details below). “The price gap depends on the reputation of the university and the geographical location. For example, in New York or Los Angeles, the cost of living will be more expensive than in a smaller city, “says the advisor. For one year of study in a community college, it takes from $ 20,000 to $ 25,000 (18,900 euros to 23,600 euros), all-inclusive – registration fees, housing, travel, transportation, etc.
As part of a university exchange, the student pays the registration fees of his school or major school in France and not the host university, which can significantly reduce the cost.

Financial conditions and guarantor.

“In the case of an exchange, the university in France gives the student an estimate of the total cost of a year in the United States, because he must prove that he has the budget on his bank account” adds Ms. Ouziel. He must also have a guarantor (parent, friend, etc.) able to help him if needed. The same principle in the context of a post-bac training, except that the student must have on a bank account a sufficient sum for the tuition fees but also the living expenses (housing, food, current expenses, etc. .).
To make sure you do not forget to do anything during your first week in the United States, here’s a student survival guide (Expat Mail article, subscribers only).

Procedures: visa and health insurance

Once admitted by the American university, the student can apply for a visa. A file must be completed and an interview conducted in English at the US Embassy in Paris to explain his project. “As part of a university exchange, the visa lasts the time of the exchange program, but students have the right to stay one month after the expiration date,” she adds.

Health insurance is also necessary. 

Universities offer theirs, which costs more. “We must learn because it is sometimes not mandatory to subscribe, something they do not always specify from the outset,” advises Ms. Ouziel. If one has the choice, it is better to turn to international health insurance (Mondassur, AVI, Cap Student, etc.), or his mutual student, who can propose a special plan.
Scholarships to help finance his studies
The scholarships depend on whether you go on an individual basis or as part of a university exchange.

Students leaving after the baccalaureate can obtain a scholarship from the university that will host them. Their amount varies from one university to another and can be viewed on the EducationUSA network website. They can also qualify for a merit scholarship (based on their grades). On the other hand, there are few community colleges offering scholarships for international students (contact the institution to check). “In any case, it must be done at least a year in advance,” insists the advisor.
For students who leave in exchange, there are several types of help. First, funding from the county council, the regional council, and Crous (the student’s scholarships are kept during his exchange). On the other hand, they are rarely entitled to a US stock exchange.

Students who leave to do a master’s degree (or doctorate) without going through an exchange do not have a grant from the federal government but can possibly benefit from a merit scholarship from the host university (depending on the grades). Then, the French-American Fulbright Commission awards ten scholarships every year (the files are mainly evaluated on the quality of the study project, the academic results and the motivation of the candidate).

To find accommodation

To stay in the United States is usually easy. There are several possibilities: rent a university room on campus (alone or with others) or take a roommate not far from the campus. In major universities, there is a program that allows students to spend two weeks at the beginning of the semester in a university dormitory (or foster home) while finding housing. Do not hesitate to contact the International Students Office of the American University for information.
“When you are between 18 and 20 years old, I think that a dorm room is preferable. The campus is a small community, everyone knows each other, it’s a good way of integration. Beyond, the university room is, of course, possible, but I would recommend a roommate outside, it’s more fun, “explains Céline Ouziel.

Student job

The visa of a student, it allows to work on the campus only – and not outside – a maximum of twenty hours per week. Is it easy to find a student job? “It all depends on the size of the campus. If it’s big, there are many possibilities to find one, whether in the cafeteria, library, gym, bookstore, restaurant … But if the campus is smaller, there is good obviously fewer opportunities, “says Ouziel.
International students are also competing with US students who may find a job off-campus, but for the sake of convenience may want to work within the campus itself. “There is a situation where the visa does not allow the student to work, it is when he goes on a linguistic trip because he does not prepare a diploma,” says the advisor to the Franco-American commission Fulbright.
Finding a student job is not automatic, but “there is always a solution like going to the tutoring office and volunteering as a tutor to give private lessons in French,” she explains.

Leave for an internship in a company

To do an internship in the United States, it is possible to apply for an offer posted by an American company. For example, the Student Conservation Association offers an internship list to international students. It is also possible to send a spontaneous application to a specific company. Some French companies can also offer internships abroad (inquire with those you are interested in). The J-1 visa is required for an internship in the United States.