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U.S. Colleges and the International Student

College and universities in the U.S. attract a large number of students from abroad. And when expatriate families come to the U.S. for extended assignments, they sometimes have children who are of college age, or will be soon. For those families, or for students living outside the U.S. who are interested in understanding the U.S. college landscape, this article offers advice as they begin considering higher education.

 Getting Started

There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. Trying to narrow your college selection should be your first goal. Begin with yourself! It is important to be honest about what you want from your college or university education and why you want to pursue that goal outside your home country.

What’s in a Name?

The words “college” and “university” are used almost synonymously in the U.S. Even a student who attends a university will refer to the overall experience as “going to college.” While universities are generally larger than colleges, it is not all about size.


Universities are generally made up of smaller subdivisions called colleges, such as the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Engineering, etc. International students should not assume that a university automatically has a higher status than a college. In the U.S. there are many colleges that are considered more prestigious and academically rigorous than many of their counterparts with the word “university” in their name. There are no hard and fast rules that differentiate a college from a university. There are strictly undergraduate schools that call themselves universities and others with significant graduate pro-grams that call themselves colleges. In this article, the word “school” refers to both types of institution.

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