The final step of EducationUSA’s 5-Steps to master’s programmes in the United States – ‘Step 5: Prepare for Your Departure’ – covers various aspects, including travel preparations, port-of-entry procedures, steps to follow upon arrival at the US campus, the importance of understanding a new social and academic culture, and available support services at US university campuses for international students.
In addition to all of the above factors, international students arriving at US campuses should be mindful about both their physical and mental health, especially given the distance from their families.
Most US higher education institutions have a health centre on campus where students may access basic health services. If a student encounters any severe health issues, they may get a referral to a nearby hospital or medical clinic. Students may access 911 from their phone in case of a medical emergency. Some medicines are available over-the-counter in the United States, but many drugs require a prescription. Generally, pharmacies can be found in and/or around campuses.
Health insurance is mandatory in the United States as medical care tends to be relatively expensive. Students may choose to buy either university health insurance or they may explore external insurance providers, both in India and the United States. Before buying the policy, students should carefully compare different insurance plans. If a student’s university does not allow buying an insurance plan from an external provider, they will have to buy the policy provided through the university. In most cases, university health insurance plans are cost-effective and comprehensive.
As the semester and programme of study progresses, students may find the academic load to be demanding. So it is important that they balance their life and get involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, build their social networks, eat a healthy diet, and take enough breaks to keep themselves healthy, both physically and psychologically. University campuses have many services available for students to support their mental health needs.
Various measures are implemented in general by the campus administrations of the US higher education institutions to ensure students’ safety on campus. Some common features of US universities include emergency response and alert systems, campus police, escort services, and high security systems at residential dorms. Despite these and other safety systems in place on campus, it is important that students remain safe by avoiding very late nights and high-risk activities and being careful when interacting with strangers.
In addition, as also discussed in one of the previous articles in this series, given the current pandemic situation, students should track and follow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their US institution’s COVID-19 protocols at all times.
We wish all students starting their programme of study in the United States a healthy and successful completion of the programme at the US university campus!
Q. I am interested in pursuing a journalism degree after I finish my bachelor’s programme in India. What kind of options are available in the United States in this field? – Bharath Rao
A. Higher education institutions in the United States offer multiple degree options in the fields of journalism and communications at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students intending to pursue a graduate-level programme in these fields may earn an MA (Master of Arts), MS (Master of Science), or PhD (Doctoral Degree). They may choose either one of the two fields (journalism or communications) for their programme or pursue their degree with a combination of the two fields. Students with an interest in pursuing a research career may opt for a Ph.D. programme. The exact titles of the degrees and offerings of specialisations do vary by institution and academic programme. Students may choose among various concentrations – public relations, editing, publishing, communications, technology in journalism and communication, etc.
Q. My daughter is going to start her undergraduate programme at a US university in Fall 2021. She is confused about what subjects she should choose for her first semester. Please help! – Masood Hassan
A. There are certain required subjects and credits all students must take when studying for a degree. Also, there are required core subjects that your daughter will be expected to take to complete her major. She will have the opportunity to also choose a list of electives. Degree programmes in some subject areas are highly structured, and universities dictate exactly which courses a student must take and when they must take them in order to graduate with a major in that field of studies.
It is important to check the requirements of any majors she may wish to pursue. There is also great variation between course requirements at liberal arts colleges. Some colleges require students to take a certain number of classes in each of the broad subject groups, while other liberal arts colleges have no such requirements, merely making a “strong recommendation” that students complete a well-rounded education.
Finally, international students must take a minimum number of credits to remain registered as “full time” students in accordance with F1 visa guidance. Do verify and understand the specific information with the US institution that your daughter plans to attend.
(The author is a Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)
(Please visit https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-usief-hyderabad for more information)
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