American academic institutions are places where you learn more than you are taught.

Their universities have a near monopoly on the Top 10 places and are renowned for high standards, numerous programs of study and the quality of student life. Higher education in the USA is something that varies from institution to institution, with each one having its own rules and guidelines for both social standards and academic reputation. However they all offer an environment that nurtures and enriches students’ lives, opens their minds to development and helps prepare them for a successful career.

Receiving a college education in the United States can be an extremely pricey endeavour, it’s therefore vital that you carry out as much research as possible into your various options. Choosing the right school and program can be an extensive and exhausting process, to be successful you need as much accurate, comprehensive, and current information as possible.

This page aims to provide American and foreign students with an overview of how to successfully apply for a US school, college or university. It will give you useful information as well as practical tips on how to improve your chances of securing a place on your chosen course.

US schools and courses

Business Administration schools in California
Business Administration schools in Florida
Business Administration schools in Miami
Criminal justice schools in California
Criminal justice schools in Florida 
Dental Assistant schools in California
Dental hygiene schools in California
MBA programs in Florida
Medical Assistant schools in Atlanta
Medical Assistant schools in California 
Medical Assistant schools in Florida 
Medical Assistant schools in Miami
Pharmacy technician schools in California
Pharmacy technician schools in Florida
Pharmacy technician schools in Miami

This page will;

  • Show you a list of typical interview questions (and tips on how to answer them).
  • Provide you with a search tool to find a suitable course in the state or city of your choice.
  • Give you advice on what to look for in a prospective school.
  • Explain to you the advantages of studying in the US.

Interviewers want to know more about you and try to find out if you will be a good match for their course. The trick to ‘passing’ an interview is to thoroughly prepare for it beforehand and have good answers ready. As a taste of what you are likley to experience, here is a common question that you will almost certainly be asked (along with some good and bad answers);

Why did you choose our school?
Turn the question into a compliment by showing that you have researched the school and have logically thought out reasons. Try to find something unique about them. A good way to answer this is to find out about the school and identify those classes, sports, or extracurricular activities that you will participate in, and to then mention these in your reply.


  • After researching your school I have discovered that it is a leader if the field of ……………, this is an area that I am very keen to study.
  • In addition to everything else, I was also greatly impressed by your mission statement, values and culture. I feel strongly that yours is an institution that I would like to be associated with.
  • I have thoroughly researched you school and course and found them both to be an exact match to my academic abilities, personal preferences and career goals.
  • All of my enquiries have confirmed that your school is the place for me, I am particularly attracted to your ………….. modules / classes, which teach exactly those subjects that I am looking for.

What NOT to say:

  • I thought I had a good chance of being accepted.
  • All of my friends are going to your University.
  • The campus location is convenient and close to my home.
  • My career counsellor told me to apply.

Typical questions asked at an interview

Breaking the ice questions

  • How did you get here today? (an easy question that’s meant to break the ice and put you at ease).
  • Are you nervous?

Personal questions

  • Tell me about yourself? (this is often asked at the beginning of an interview)
  • What makes you special?
  • Who in your life has most influenced you?
  • How would your friends describe your personality?
  • Tell me a bit about your family?
  • Tell me something interesting about yourself.
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Ability questions

  • What is your best point?
  • What is your weakest point?
  • What qualities set you apart from other applicants?
  • Describe your method of studying / learning.
  • How do you manage your time?

Academic questions

  • Explain your academic experiences and successes.
  • What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good student?
  • What part of your studies are you most proud of?

Career questions

  • What are your plans after you graduate?
  • What field of employment would you like to enter and why?
  • What will you do if you aren’t accepted at our school?
  • What initially sparked your interest in this field?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Course specific questions

  • Why should we accept you onto our course?
  • What will you contribute to our campus / course?
  • What other schools are you considering applying for?
  • What would you like to ask us?

Financial questions

  • How are you going to pay the school and course fees?

Behaviour questions

  • How do you handle a challenging situation?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached, and explain how you did it.
  • What do you do if you disagreed with a fellow student or tutor?
  • Explain a weakness that you have and how you intend to overcome it.

Reading habits and preference questions

  • Recommend a good book to me.
  • What’s the last book you read?
  • Tell me about a good book you’ve read recently?
  • Who are your heroes or role models and why?

An interview should be viewed as an excellent opportunity to sell yourself and make the interviewer think that you will be a wonderful addition to their school. It’s an opportunity to tell them more about yourself and why you should be admitted onto their program.

Remember that the interviewer has asked the same questions to dozens of students and heard dozens of replies. They will have an excellent idea of what an average, good and brilliant answer sounds like. Apart from learning more about your personality, background and academic skills, they also want to see how you will react in an interview.

Types of interviews
Interviews can take a variety of different forms such as;

  • One-on-one conversations.
  • Group interviews with more than one candidate.
  • Panel interviews with more than one interviewer.
  • Phone interviews.

Before answering a question
Make sure you fully understand the question.

Answering questions

  • Always try to say something memorable that will make you stand out from other applicants.
  • One-word answers are not really appropriate, however you should also avoid elaborate speeches. Try to get to the point as soon as possible.
  • Speak confidently and answer all question in a clear voice, avoid mumbling at all costs.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question then say so.

Reasons why interviewers ask about your past
To them a student’s past performance is a good indicator of future behaviour. They want to discover how you managed certain situations in the past to determine if you would be able to handle stressful situations in the future.

Preparing for the interview

  • It’s always a good idea to conduct interview practice sessions with a capable friend or a professional person, and to then get feedback on how you came across. Keep practising this routine until you are happy with your performance.
  • Thoroughly research the school, faculty and campus you want to attend to get as much information as you can about them.
  • Know your long-term career and academic goals.
  • If you have any gaps in your history then be prepared to explain them.
  • Have a basic awareness of the current issues and events in your chosen field of study.
  • Prepare a range of questions that YOU would like to ask the interviewer.

Practice your introduction
First impressions count and the tone of an interview is usually set in the first few seconds. It’s therefor vital that you carefully plan your introduction. Practice how to look a person in the eye, give them a good handshake and introduce yourself. Remember to be polite, interviewers like that.

Interviewers will look at

  • How you conduct yourself.
  • How you articulate your answers.
  • How you handle difficult questions
  • Whether you are emotionally stable.

What to wear at an interview
Be formal, conservative and smart. Its also a good idea to wear clothes that you are comfortable in and which give you confidence.

During the interview

  • Listen carefully to every question, if it’s unclear or seems ambiguous, ask for clarification.
  • Smile and try to be cheerful and positive, remember if you are miserable or stressed people will be able to tell.
  • Try to avoid talking about issues such as politics or religion, unless you are specifically asked.
  • Try not to appear intimidated.

At the end of the interview

  • Remember to thank the interviewer(s) for their time.
  • Mention how much you enjoyed your visit
  • Try to leave on a good note.
  • Later on, after the interview consider sending them a thank you note (make sure it is personally addressed to the interviewer).
  • Impress the interviewers with your knowledge of their university and course, this can go a long way towards making you stand out.

Good questions are seen as a sign of intelligence.

They can also make you seem interested in the course and are also an opportunity to learn if the school really is the right one for you. Remember that it is acceptable for you have a notebook with a list of questions to ask. Here are a list of general questions you could ask;

  • Is there an advantage in applying early?
  • When does your school let applicants know about admission decisions?
  • In your opinion what makes your school unique?
  • The entire course cost and fees?
  • Can I confirm the state/city the campus is in?
  • What percentage of graduating students find jobs?
  • Do you anticipate a tuition increase?
  • What is the attrition rate for first year students?
  • How would you describe faculty-student relationships?
  • Is student housing available?
  • What is the average cost of off-campus housing?
  • What complaints do students have about your school?
  • Is your course accredited, if yes then by whom? (this questions is only really applicable to small, lesser known courses).

What do universities look for in students
They want motivated students who will do well in a competitive environment. Remember that they will often consider much more than just grades and test scores when making admissions decisions.

  • An overall ability to succeed academically.
  • Good study habits.
  • A history of high grades.
  • Intellectual curiosity.
  • Potential for academic success.
  • Decent test scores on admission tests.
  • Recommendation letters from your teachers.

What to look for in an American university

  • Quality of teaching
  • Reputation
  • Financial assistance
  • Campus size
  • Classroom sizes
  • Student population
  • Student diversity
  • Location (i.e. is the school located in a ‘safe’ area?).
  • Weather
  • Online learning facilities
  • Any on-campus Career Services department to assist you with post-graduation.


  • Three years is a long time to commit to one place, so it’s a good idea to visit the campus, meet the tutors, walk around the buildings and check out its facilities.
  • Ask if you can sit in on a class, this will give you an excellent idea of the atmosphere.
  • Remember to walk around the general area outside of the campus and also the city centre.

The location of the school

  • What’s the weather like i.e. is it mostly cold or warm. Which do you prefer?
  • Is it an urban or rural location. Do you prefer a busy city to a small town location?

Where to find information about a course or school

  • Admissions officers
  • Online student forums
  • Prospectuses
  • Career advisors
  • Their website
  • Find and talk to professors, tutors, recent graduates, and professional admissions officers.

Apart from having some of the world’s best university systems, a wide choice of majors and flexible education opportunities, there are many other reasons such as these;

  • Degrees respected and recognized throughout the world.
  • Schools which are at the forefront of teaching, technology and research.
  • Affordable tuition and living costs.
  • Widely known global academic brands.
  • Quality of teaching.
  • Opportunities to get internships within many fields and industries.
  • An extensive variety of Educational Opportunities, with several thousand school, colleges, universities, and campuses to choose from. Basically there is something for everyone.
  • Flexibility of courses that can fit an individuals academic goals, needs and interests.
  • Exciting campus and student life.

Reasons why International Students want to study in the US
Many schools have excellent Support Services for International Students, and go out of their way to help foreign students adapt to a culturally and academically different environment. They also give help on visa status, student housing and advise on employment possibilities.

  • A degree from the US is highly valued in their own country.
  • Students want to broaden their life experience.
  • Desire to experience the American way of life.
  • Lure of studying in a foreign place.
  • Desire to study with a wide diversity of students from all parts of the world, and with whom they can mix.

International students in the USA
It is estimated that in 2012, over 700,000 international students chose to study in the US, making it the most popular country in the world for them. Their numbers are growing and today nearly 4% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students.

Facts about International students;

  • At present roughly 16% of the worlds International students come to the USA.
  • They pump an estimated $24 billion into the U.S. economy.
  • The majority of them are from China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, India and South Korea.
  • Most gravitate toward business, science, management, engineering, mathematics and computer science.
  • As the vast majority aren’t eligible for U.S. government aid programs, most of them pay their own way.
  • The majority of U.S. universities do not offer any financial aid or scholarships for international students.

Facts about studying in the USA

  • As of 2010, there were 20.3 million students in higher education in the USA.
  • There are estimated to be over 2,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

The difference between a School, College or University
In the United States (unlike other countries) there is little difference between the terms ‘college’ and ‘university. This can be slightly confusing for students from Europe and elsewhere, where those two words can mean entirely different things. In the US a University is usually a large ‘school’ that contains multiple ‘colleges’ where students enrol on four-year undergraduate programs and bachelor degrees.

Financial assistance for higher education can come from grant or loan programs. Grants do not need to be paid back, whilst loan programs must be paid back

These are definitely worth seeking as they are open to many and based on academic achievement, promise and financial need. They are an award of financial aid (similar to grants and gifts) to help students finance their education and gain a degree.

They are awarded on merit/need and are usually on a first-come, first-served basis. Many scholarships are available to students whose parents work for a particular company, church or civic organizations. However they can also be provided by governments, corporations, universities, organization or philanthropists.
Scholarships usually have strings attached i.e. may be contingent on entering a certain career.
They are not required to be repaid.

A bursary is similar to a scholarship and is an award that is distributed based on financial need. Bursaries may require applicants to meet certain geographical or demographic requirements.