Why the US Should be Your Next Study Destination

By Molika Meng, Counsellor

Making the decision to study abroad is challenging. You may be unsure as to whether you are ready to go, what to do in a country where your first language is not spoken, what the best major is, and what university to choose. Studying abroad is a tough decision, yet relatively simple and exciting.

Not surprisingly, the US is the top destination for international students seeking higher education opportunities abroad. Have you ever wondered what makes the American education system so popular globally? Most leading universities are located in the US, with excellent programs across all departments, and academic qualifications awarded by US institutions are widely recognised.

According to Times Higher Education (THE) 2019, the majority of top universities globally are US institutions, including Stanford, MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

A unique characteristic of the American higher education system is that you can change your major multiple times. It is not uncommon for American students to switch majors during their undergraduate studies, but it is important to bear in mind that switching majors may result in more courses, which will cost more money and take more time.

Class sizes

Classes range from huge lectures to seminars with only a few students. You are expected to share your views, debate, participate in class discussions and activities, and give presentations. International students often find this surprising, compared to their local education systems.


  • Each course is worth a certain number of credits or credit hours, with one course typically worth up to five credits.
  • A full-time program at most schools is 12 or 15 credit hours (four or five courses per term), and you must complete a certain number of credit hours to graduate. International students are expected to enrol in a full-time program each term.

Be mindful of the admission requirements and application deadline when you apply. A perfect application is not helpful if you miss the deadline, and applying early without sufficient documentation won’t work. Your application needs to be correct and on time.

Your study abroad journey may not be easy: you’ll have to persevere, work hard and be proactive. Rather than waiting for assignments to be given, you’ll need to do self-study to enhance your skills.

Even though some students are very capable, they still face challenges around culture shock and in their academic and social life. Travelling alone to the US may be daunting initially, and it might take a while to adapt to your new environment. As an international student, you may feel left out and reluctant to talk to other students or participate in social activities. You’ll need to adapt step-by-step and socialise with other local students, so that you can get to know them better. You may feel hesitant to express your ideas at first, but remember that the US has academic freedom: you can express yourself freely at all times.

It’s also vital to bear in mind that there is more to life than studying. Assignments, projects and piles of books to read can end up preventing you from leaving your room! Be sure to take the time to go out, explore and enjoy new experiences. In the US, there is a lot to do and see. The possibilities are endless: The Grand Canyon, New York City, Snoqualmie Falls (Washington), Hawaii, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, to name a few.

You need to study hard, but do not forget to reward yourself sometimes.

If you are interested in learning more about studying in the US, visit a Study Abroad office at any ACE campus to receive free counselling.

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