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The First Stages of Planning for a US Education

Yesterday we shared Homayoon's first question, which was about the biggest obstacles to studying in the U.S. His second question was:
When you planned to get your Master Degree in U.S, UK, or Australia, How do you planned? What have you done as a first thing?

We've actually covered this very topic in a previous post, "First Steps: Deciding to Come to the US is the Easy Part," which goes through the first steps you should take once you've decided to study in America.

[Also check out this previous post, "Recap: Applying to Schools"]

The very first step, according to EducationUSA, is to research your school choices and the tests they require. Our bloggers homed in on that point as well in their advice:

Sebastian Sanchez

The most important thing to do is making informed decisions. Again, I had much help from the organization in my country, but for being able to take decisions I based most of my research on This is an organization that helps you out by providing a lot of very valuable information, from preparation for the tests to financial aid, going through different colleges costs and rankings to student life and the towns those are based.

[Check out other websites that are useful for researching schools on our Resources page]

Anna Malinovskaya
Anna is a Russian student at Mount Holyoke College

The first thing I did was making a list of schools I would be applying to. Then I checked the deadlines and admission requirements for each particular school and started studying for admission tests.

Azadeh is an Iranian student at the University of Maryland

When I started searching around for universities, I was at a total lost. I didn’t know how to go to the best sites and how can I find the best universities, and then I found that each university has a different webpage design. It was hard to get familiar – how can I find their application forms and everything?

Then some friends helped me to figure out how to do that. I started doing that when I was working on my Master’s thesis, and I was very relaxed because there was no rush during a year or so. Making an excel file, listing all the universities I’m interested in, departments, all of the professors and everything. But the truth is that I didn’t use it that much. Because when I started my work, I was so busy with work. And when I made up my mind about applying to universities that are located in specific areas, that I had some friends or family or someone close by, you know? It’s not good criteria actually. But for me it worked very well.

[Read more of Azadeh's story]

Nareg Seferian

Each college and university has its own admissions process. They have to be treated on an individual basis, and you can expect to be treated as an individual if you demand it. Get in touch with the admissions and financial aid offices and registrar of the place where you are applying. Don't be afraid to ask all of your questions, even the ones that seem silly or too detailed to you. Remember, they need you as a student just as much as you need the institution for the education; it's a partnership.

There are also joint admissions processes or common applications for some colleges and universities. Again, use that computer and sit in front of it for hours to find what you need.

What are the first steps you would take to study in America? Leave your story in the comments or by using the form below.