By David GitauLeaving friends and family to study in a foreign country seems like a daunting prospect. Yet deciding to cross the Atlantic to study in the US might be one of the best decisions you will make in your life. Seriously.
Nothing comes easy, and the road to studying in the most elite of colleges demands sacrifice and commitment. Here’s why you should consider studying in the US:
01. Variety, the spice of life
US universities exemplify this in a number of ways. Studying in the US presents you with the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different countries and cultures. Through such interactions, you quickly learn that not everyone shares similar beliefs as you do or sees things from the same perspective as you do. With time, you acquire a global mindset which allows you to be less biased towards other cultures and to appreciate your own culture more. Besides this, you learn to approach everything from a more objective perspective; which is an important life skill to have.
02. Great opportunities
Studying in the US comes with a plethora of opportunities. Most campuses will provide a lot of tools to help you land internships and jobs, e.g. resume critiques, career building workshops, etc. Networking is also given so much priority and through sharing thoughts with people, great ideas are conceived. Most US colleges have a lot of money which allows you to do things that you’d not have done at Kenyan universities e.g. 4 Kenyan students from Stanford, Dartmouth and NorthWestern University were funded this summer to start a coding camp (NaiCode) in Nairobi; others were funded to work with several NGOs in an effort to combat various challenges in Africa. Many students recieved funding to study abroad in countries such as France, South Africa, etc. during school breaks. Such things give you an edge over most of the competition in the job market.
03. Breadth and depth
The classwork offered by most schools in the US allows you to study a wide range of subjects, while at the same time giving you an in-depth insight into what you want to do later in life. Even if you’re pursuing an Engineering degree, you can take classes from other disciplines such as Economics, Visual Arts, Literature, Foreign Languages, Entrepreneurship, Politics, etc. The best thing is that you are the one that decides what you want to study. Also, most schools allow you to change your mind any time before your third year. This allows you to mingle with people from different majors in your classes and definitely helps you become an all-rounded individual. It’s also just fun studying things you’d never thought of before.
04. World class education
Most US universities are highly ranked in the world. In these schools, you are taught by world-renowned professors and rub shoulders with smart students from all over the world. Some professors will cancel lecture because they have to pick up a Nobel Prize! This challenging yet invigorating academic atmosphere pushes you to your limits and makes you a better version of yourself. The huge financial endowments that US colleges have also mean that they make you as comfortable as possible. The libraries are huge: For instance, UoN’s library system (largest in Kenya) has half a million volumes while Princeton has twenty-two million volumes. Professors have labs which are addressing ideas like Quantum Computing, De Novo Proteins, Wireless Communications, Anonymous Internet Networks, Autonomous Cars, Nanofabrication, Machine Learning Algorithms, etc. At these universities, you are truly at the top of the world of acedemia, innovation and research.
05. Financial Aid
This should have come top of the list because it makes it affordable and possible to study in the US. It may seem absurd but you could get a financial aid package so good that it would be cheaper to study in the US than a private university in Kenya. Most Kenyan students receive full scholarships to study in the US – some even get free air fare to go to the US and back every year! Financial aid comes in form of grants and loans; most international students get grants, meaning you don’t have to pay them back.
Studying away from home inevitably makes you learn how to depend on yourself. You get to learn so much about yourself and you cultivate responsibility. While your parents may want to send you money, you can take that burden off their shoulders by taking a student job. There are numerous part-time student jobs which can provide enough income for daily expenses. You will learn how to improve yourself overall. Independence is a definitely one of the best way schools prepare you for adult life.
07. Create memories
Being in the US and away from family pushes you out of your comfort zone. You make new friends from all over the world, try out new things (lots of concerts in NYC!), and with time these new experiences form a vital part of who you are. Those four years will prove unforgettable!
This post was compiled by David Chege and his team at Kenyans Applying to Undergraduate US Universities. Visit their website for more information and for a chance to get one-on-one guidance on writing your college essays.