An increasingly popular choice, studying in the United States of America can be costly but can also offer a solid foundation for future success
The education system is one of the most expansive in the world, with approximately 4,000 universities on offer.
These universities can be divided into two types:
There are other specialist institutions which focus on certain subjects, such as science and technology, performing arts, and music.
It is important to note that in the USA, universities are known as colleges and postgraduate degrees are called graduate degrees.
University admission in the USA is competitive, with UK-based students expected to have a minimum of a 2:2 in an undergraduate degree to be considered.
All students must sit an entrance exam, which is in a multiple choice format. Most universities require students to sit the SAT or the ACT exam. They can be taken in test centres around the UK and tests cost roughly £50 each.
You can practice and register for exams at College Board - SAT . USA postgraduate programmes also require two or more reference letters, usually written by university lecturers or former employers.
It is also worth noting that there is no official conversion rate between UK A-level/degree results and USA grades and each university will have its own policy. Therefore it is vital to contact individual universities to find out their requirements.
The US education system is expensive. Before you are even accepted into a university it will cost you $50-$100 (£30-£60) per application.
The average cost per year for international students studying at a public university in 2011-2012 was more than $20,000 (£13,000). Those attending a private institution had to pay an average of $28,500 (£18,000), with some prestigious universities charging upwards of $40,000 (£26,000) (College Board, 2011).
There is no standard set fees like the UK and costs will vary between institutions. Prices can even vary between departments at the same university.
Funding for international students is readily available, although options will vary between universities. Some institutions will provide scholarships covering the entire cost. The most common sources of funding are:
Competition for funding is fierce so be sure to submit your application early.
Around 30 scholarships are offered each year on The Fulbright Award Programme. Opportunities are available for UK students that want to pursue a postgraduate degree in any subject. For more information visit Fulbright Commission - Awards and Programmes for UK Postgraduates .
For UK students studying degrees which focus on architecture, engineering, science and technology, the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE UK ) provides placements.
It is worth checking with your current universities international office as they may have links with a USA institution.
Before applying for a visa you must be accepted and approved for your programme of study. You will then be sent the necessary documentation to start the visa process.
It is best to apply early and you will also need to make an appointment for a visa interview with the US embassy in your country.
The F-1 student visa is for those wishing to study full time at an accredited US college or university.
For a complete guide visit the US Department of State - Student Visas .
America is the self-proclaimed land of opportunity. With this in mind, why not explore what employment opportunities the country has to offer...
The job market in the USA is slowly improving year on year after the big financial crash in 2008, ending 2012 in a slightly better state than 2011. The unemployment rate is also on a slow road to recovery (down from over 8% to 7.8% in December 2012), although it is still much higher than the average rate of 6% that Americans had become used to before the economic downturn.
The USA is still known globally as an economic superpower. Its main exports include aircraft, chemicals, computers and electronics, food products, military equipment, and vehicles.
Popular areas of employment include the country's manufacturing, construction, health care, technology and media sector.
The country's media sector is the most advanced in the world. The film, TV and music industry have a global audience and there are more than 1,500 daily newspapers in the USA.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small start-ups are one of the reasons why more people are finding work, especially IT and technology firms.
To find the latest jobs in the USA, search:
It is worth checking the large US online newspapers, of which many can be found online, for areas of growth and job vacancies.
Students and recent graduates can apply for internship positions with the Fulbright Commission . Voluntary opportunities also exist, which often involve helping at graduate fairs and outreach events.
Alternatively, your university may have an exchange programme set up with a partner institution in the USA. Get in touch with your institution to find out more.
There are many opportunities for volunteering in America. Some examples of providers include:
Entering the USA for employment is complicated due to the country's firm restrictions on immigration.
It can help if you have a relative in the country who can sponsor you, or your employer can apply on your behalf. Another possible way to gain entry is to find employment with a UK multinational company and then work towards a transfer to a branch in the USA.
There are two categories of visa:
Even when you have acquired a visa it still only entitles you to travel to the USA, it does not guarantee entry. For more information visit US Embassy in London - Visas .