Introduction to Higher education in America

An American Bachelor’s (first) degree usually takes four years to complete. There are two major divisions in the type of school: public or private and college or university. A college offers only bachelor’s level degrees (BA/ BS), while a university is larger having both Bachelor’s degree programs and advanced degree programs for Master’s, Professional and Doctoral degrees. In addition, there are junior colleges which offer “associate degrees” in professional subject areas after about two years of work.

Public schools are organized at the state level, they often charge fees and tuition according to their prestige. Public schools come in university, college and junior college varieties.

Private schools and colleges are more expensive on average. They can be very large as Harvard University, which has a total population of 26,000 students, or very small like Marlboro College with only 250 students.

Usually the full price for a year at a private college or university can be over US$ 30,000. A less famous public school may still cost US$ 15,000 per year upwards. However you may be able to win independent scholarship or grant from local or international sources or some schools offer financial aid packages to help offset the cost of your schooling.

Applications to US colleges and universities generally require transcripts, several letters of recommendation from teachers, a personal essay of about a page, and some exams.

The most commonly required exam, accepted by almost all US schools is SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). It is a general ‘ability’ test with sections in mathematics, vocabulary, and writing. This is given several times a year. The test can be retaken if you are unsatisfied with your performance.

The basic SAT, also known as the SAT-I, recently changed its format. There are also SAT-II tests, short subject-specific tests in fields from Biology to Art History to French. SAT-IIs are not usually a requirement for admission, but they help show your achievements to your school of choice.

For details of these tests (including dates and costs), test study materials, and information about school choices and admission process can be obtained from United States- Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission.

For more details Contact
Ms Nelum Senadira, Student Advisor,
United States- Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission,
7, Flower Terrace, Colombo 7

I also include some information we received on this subject in our facebook group.

Prasanna Abeyrathna (GCSU, USA) writes:

I think its better for students to get real US education than paying some of the affiliated institutions in sri lanka.. sometimes they charge more than US universities.. and some of these so called American Colleges.. are not even properly affiliated..
Sri Lankan students are talented so they can apply for colleges in US with guidance from the US – Fulbright commission in colombo.. than paying crazy amounts for fake colleges and agents..

Ludmi Herath (MNSU, USA) writes:

Totally agree Prasanne. I have worked in two institutions and i have come across three institutions which a Sri Lankan agent is sending students to USA. She promises everything for these students, jobs, loans and many more. She charged over $1,500-$3,000 from these students. Some students have returned back to Sri Lanka due to mis-information. Even though agents say they are directly through the Institution, they can say anything to please the students. Some institutions ONLY care for numbers. (How many students enroll!!) They do not care for the aftermath. WATCH for these money greedy agents. Be an advocate. If you have gone through an agent and that agent said inaccurate information or lies or charges you outrageously report to someone. Report about them to the institution. Institutions are taking action when students complain.

DO IT YOUR SELF! or GET HELP DIRECTLY FROM THE INSTITUTION. Agents cannot get your SCHOLARSHIPS OR STUDENT VISA. You can do everything yourself. ALSO REMEMBER these agents get paid COMMISSION from the institution. More questions and concerns contact me. Thanks everyone!



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