Advice for International Students Applying to Universities in the United States
International students coming to study in the United States need a plan to succeed or their efforts earning an undergraduate or graduate degree could be wasted.
They have to navigate the realities of American culture that are likely far different from what is splashed across their television and movie screens. It’s easy to get lost in the university systems like the University of Southern California, New York University and Purdue University — three heavily favored destinations.
Entrepreneur Amir Malik offers help to international students through his company and website Your University Success. He grew up in Chicago with parents who had close associations with families from around the globe and a sister, Fatima Malik, a real estate agent in Los Angeles, who worked as a Resident Assistant (RA) and lived in the Honors and International House at Illinois State University. She created diversity programs and studied in France for a semester.
His priority, based on his own experience attending law school, is helping the students understand they need a school and major that fits their unique personality.
“When I went to law school, I had no idea what I was doing,” admits Amir who has also taught English in the Middle East. “I didn’t know what lawyers or law students did or if I would like it. I don’t want others to have that same feeling. I want to guide people through the system so that they can maximize their potential.”
Students from countries like China, India, South Korea and Saudia Arabia may choose schools based on recommendations from friends who attended a particular school. It’s easy to drift through classes and not have a clear goal in mind.
“There are so many students who could be much more successful if they knew how to navigate the university system,” says Amir.
Some governments put a lot of money behind the education that their students are supposed to receive. Amir says Saudia Arabia has often dropped about $100,000 on students who never finished their degree. They could sign up for a class here or there and take whatever they wanted. Times are changing, though. Cash flow has slowed like oil prices have dropped.
A February 2016 report on CNN underscored a generous $6 billion scholarship program that supported 200,000 Saudi students is under scrutiny. The program will be limited to those attending one of the top 100 universities globally, or studying a program rated in the top 50 in its field.
Students can no longer afford to drift or choose schools that may have been right for someone else but won’t meet their career and professional goals. Malik’s services include helping the student take a thorough personal assessment using what he calls a “detailed analysis of your needs and dreams.” Students wrestle with many of the same fears like choosing the wrong degree, not being able to secure a job after graduation, and wondering if they’ll have a negative experience.
Amir’s advice is immensely practical and he guides students in taking responsibility for their decisions. “First students have to find out what they want to do. Then they need to spend time with people who have that job to see if they like it.”
He says they need to explore what it takes to get that job. A plan is formed and the students follow it step by step to achieve their education and career goals.
Going to America and gaining entrance into a well-known university is an exciting step. But for students who want the experience to mean something, Amir Malik won’t let them drift. He wants them to know who they are and what they want and then he’ll guide them in taking the necessary steps.
As Amir Malik has seen, studying in the United States will pay off when you’re prepared.