A quick glance at any list of the world’s top colleges is enough for you to know that when it comes to world-class higher studies, few countries compare to the United States of America. Home to the world’s oldest and most prestigious educational institutions, USA is the top choice for students with a keen ambition to succeed and thrive in the global environment. The diversity of people and cultures, the country’s growth rate, and its high quality of life together makes for a well-rounded experience for academic and personal growth.
Whether your passion lies in the liberal arts or the sciences, if pursuing an education in America is on your bucket list, here are the colleges worth aiming for.
Princeton University, New Jersey
Among the oldest academic and research institutes in the country, Ivy League Princeton University’s alumni list boasts the likes of President John F Kennedy, mathematician John Nash, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. It was also among the first colleges in America to favour scholarships and grants instead of need-based loans. Princeton follows a highly selective admissions process and international students make up only a quarter of the total number of students, which makes getting in rather competitive.
Courses at the undergraduate level are quite rigorous, with every student required to submit an independent research project.
Acceptance rate: 6.5%
Annual cost: $47,500
Harvard University, Massachusetts
A fixture in every list of the world’s top 10 colleges for over a decade, Harvard is the oldest educational institute of USA. Its undergraduate courses are among the most varied—3,900—and students have the freedom of crafting their own specialisation after the first year. Personal academic goals are taken very seriously, with each student given an individualised study plan best suited to his/ her goal and ability. If you are interested in interdisciplinary studies, Harvard is your best bet—here you can study subjects as diverse as medicine and music. Even though it is among the most expensive schools in the world, it is also the most liberal when it comes to financial aid. Notable alumni include President and First Lady Barak and Michelle Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Ratan Tata.
Acceptance rate: 5.4%
Annual cost: $63,025
Yale University, Connecticut
America’s second-oldest Ivy League school lays a strong focus on liberal arts. Its theatre and music programmes are the most reputed in the country. It’s no surprise then that some of Hollywood’s most famous actors including Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Edward Norton, and Jodie Foster were students at Yale. The school offers over 40 majors at the undergraduate level, categorised into the four areas of science, writing, arts, and international studies. Special seminars are conducted where students are divided into small groups and made to interact with the college’s most eminent faculty members, while its directed studies gives students access to the world’s most influential texts, regardless of their major.
Acceptance rate: 6.3%
Annual tuition: $49,480
Stanford University, California
If you are an avid technology enthusiast who dreams of working with the best companies of the world or starting your own tech start-up, Stanford University is the place for you. Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai, Evan Spiegel, Mukesh Ambani, and Azim Premji are just a few of its notable alumni. Its computer science and engineering programmes are top-notch, but to maintain a good teacher-student ratio (1:4), the undergraduate enrolment every year is quite limited. Located near California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford’s campus is also counted among the world’s most beautiful.
Acceptance rate: 4.8%
Annual tuition: $48,987
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts
The country’s powerhouse of technology and innovation, MIT’s most famous alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, physicist Richard Feynman, and India’s former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. The college boasts a strong entrepreneurial culture and, like Harvard, encourages students to design their own course of study. Its Undergraduate Research Program admits over 60% students every year, giving them access to the best facilities and faculty guidance. MIT offers 53 major and 58 minor programmes at the undergraduate level and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration through its Experimental Study Group initiative and Media Arts and Sciences Freshman Program.
Acceptance rate: 7%
Annual tuition: $48,452
Financing Your Undergraduate Studies in USA
Pursuing an undergraduate course in one of America’s top universities can cost you anywhere between $45,000 and $70,000. Add to that your daily living expenses and you will see that studying in USA can be quite expensive. While most of these universities offer scholarships and grants to American students, such options for international students can be rather limited. If you are in need of financial assistance, it is best to check the university’s scholarship programme before you apply. There are also several private institutions that grant scholarships to international students, though these are largely merit- or quote-based and can get quite competitive. A loan against property for education can be a convenient way to fund your child’s education. Unlike unsecured loans, the interest rate for such a loan is much less. You can avail an amount of up to 80% of the property’s value, which can cover not just your tuition fee but also living expenses.
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