Lifestyle Considerations
Lifestyle Considerations

"As a foreign student, I had to consider not only the academic aspects of the school, but also things we might take for granted such as the school's location, climate, and so on."
— International studies and sociology student from Ghana

Financing your education is a very important consideration, and you should read 'Financial Aid' for further details about calculating costs and the possibility of receiving financial aid. You should know what you can realistically afford. Carefully study the fee structure printed in most university catalogs, and incorporate into your calculations the cost of room, food, tuition, fees, travel, and other expenses for the full four years. You also need to consider that tuition costs may rise, as many universities increase their tuition every year. Also look at the payment plans of various institutions.


Since all colleges have different housing facilities and policies, find out if housing is available for all four years of enrollment or if students are required to find off-campus housing. Investigate the price difference between on-campus and off-campus housing. Check the living arrangements for on-campus housing; students living in dormitories may be required to share a room with one, two, or three other students. Yet living on campus, at least for the first year or two, may help you integrate into American university life more easily and quickly. It can also save you the additional expense of buying a car or paying for daily public transportation, as well as the time needed to travel back and forth to campus each day. By your junior year, however, you may wish to move off-campus into your own apartment. Be sure to find out the university's policy on such a move, and also the cost and availability of local housing.


Every region of the United States offers both urban and rural settings. City-based campuses offer a variety of eating, entertainment, cultural, and shopping facilities. A rural university may mean a quieter, more college-centered environment. Climate is another consideration. From the four seasons in the Northeast to the desert in Arizona and a sub-tropical climate in Florida, the variety is almost endless. Also keep in mind accessibility to local facilities and services that could be useful to you in your studies. For example, if you wish to major in art history, does the school offer programs that involve students with nearby museums and art galleries?


Student populations on U.S. campuses can range in size from 200 to 60,000 students. Some universities resemble small cities with their own post offices, grocery stores, and shopping centers. Other colleges may be in large, densely populated urban areas but have a very small enrollment. Depending on your personal lifestyle, you may enjoy the independence afforded by being part of a very large student population on your campus, or you may prefer the more personal touch a small college may be able to offer you. You should not make assumptions regarding social life or access to professors based on the size of an institution. Determine what opportunities are important to you and read the catalogs closely with these in mind.