International students that pursue a graduate program in New York will experience one of the world’s most exciting places. New York is home to many public and private institutions where it is possible to study a variety of postgraduate courses. Some of the most prestigious universities in the heart of the city include New York University, Columbia, and Cornell University.
How do I apply?
Many students, including myself, underestimate how long it takes to apply to college in the United States, as the process is different to other systems in the UK or in Europe. You will have to apply to each university separately, so make sure that you know when the deadline for each is. Some application timelines for preparing to study in the US suggest allowing yourself eighteen months to research different schools, request references, take necessary entrance exams, and to write your personal essays! Although this is just a recommendation, it does indicate how long the process can take.
Once you have narrowed down your college choices, it is important to check what is required from you. Most universities request that you take one or more standardised admission tests depending on the nature of your course. These may include the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, TOEFL or IELTS. If you are unfamiliar with these tests, they can seem intimidating but with enough time and preparation, you will be fine. Although some people study for the GRE Test for a few weeks or even months, I was in my last year at university and only gave myself a week to study! One of the most common tests needed to gain admission to graduate or business school is the GRE General or Subject Tests. You are able to take the test on paper or on a computer and it lasts for approximately four hours. The test is a broader assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning skills - all of which you will have done before. You can register for the GRE online, by phone or by mail and it costs about $190 to take outside of the US so do not rely on taking the test too often! It is definitely worth downloading the free revision app on your phone, and completing the provided practice tests.
Similar to British universities, American colleges consider your personal statement extremely important. In this essay, you should really let your personality shine through so the university can assess whether you are the type of candidate they are looking for. These essays are longer than the personal statement you will have submitted to UCAS with a word limit of roughly 1,500 words.
Another significant aspect of your application will be your references. Each institution sets its own policy in terms of the number of referees you will need, so it is a good idea to double check how many are required. You should allow yourself enough time to approach your university tutors or employers that you have worked for in the past. It helps if you can make your referees relevant to your application i.e. if you are applying for a journalism course, perhaps one of your tutors writes for a respected magazine in their field? Choose tutors from modules that you were most successful in, and do not worry about whether they will remember you - they will be writing references for their students all the time!
What are my options for funding?
It is no secret that studying in the United States can be an expensive decision but there are lots of options to help support your studies abroad. It is a good idea to start looking for postgraduate funding whilst or even before you apply, as the deadlines for scholarships often fall close to when applications are due. The many types of funding available for graduate students include: merit-based, need-based, need-blind, university-specific, course-specific, subject-specific, career-specific, demographic-specific, country-specific, ability-specific, etc! You can also apply for financial aid from your university. Do your research and find something that works for you! Be sure to check out the Fulbright Program for more information and the different opportunities for graduate funding that they offer.
Can I get a US student visa?
In today’s political climate, acquiring a visa to the US can seem like a difficult task. In order to be eligible for sponsorship of F-1 or J-1 status, you will need to be accepted to a full-time academic program. An F-1 status is the most common type of status used to study in the United States and is for full-time academic students that are pursuing a degree or certificate. If you opt for a J-1 student visa then at least half of your funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds i.e. through a scholarship. After you have decided on which status you fall under, you will be required to complete an application for a visa online. In order to apply, you will need a copy of your admission letter, a passport scan, as well as financial documents that prove you are able to fund your estimated expenses. Your application is usually checked and sent through the university which you will be attending so make sure to ask them about any queries you may have!
What is life as a student in New York City like?
Life in New York is unlike anywhere else . As a student in the city, you can enjoy free access to some of the world’s best museums and cultural institutions by showing them your student pass! New York is one of the world’s top financial centres and attracts many international travellers. You will be able to explore a wide range of attractions and historic landmarks like the Empire State Building, enjoy the exciting nightlife and live out your Gossip Girl dreams at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The chance to study in New York City is the opportunity of a lifetime. Although the application process can seem time-consuming and expensive, the life experience gained as a result of your decision to travel across the Atlantic will be difficult to beat.
- By Lili Melvin