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Where should an international student go?

  1. Dec 13, 2007 #1
    As a student studying for my high school diploma, outside of the USA or EU, how can I get into a university in the USA or EU to study physics? And will my diploma help me?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2007 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Money.
    Universities make a lot of their money from fees from oversees students.
    Generally there is a test of english (TOEFL) but for undergrad degrees they aren't usually too fussy about your academic credentials - especially when you see the standard of the home students they have to take!
     
  4. Dec 13, 2007 #3
    I am an international student myself, studying Computer Engineering in US.

    Getting your diploma in either USA or EU certainly helps. Universities in EU (Excluding countries such as England) are free to attend (or close to) if you can get accepted, and you get a qualified education as well.

    Of course, you get a good education in US too, but it definitely will cost you. First of all, you are NOT eligible for in-state tuitions (Unless if you get a specific visa known as J-1, but there are a certain requirements to obtain it. For most international students, they get F-1), meaning that whichever school you attend to, you will have to pay typically twice or three times more than the US citizens pay to go to their school (Note that not all schools have instate or out of state tuition system).

    Secondly, there are A LOT of constraints for you to get financial aid. Don't get me wrong, it does not mean that it is impossible to receive one. It just means that, you have limited options compared to the US citizens indicating the competition will be tougher.

    To actually attend to a university in US, you have to take a standarized english exam named TOEFL, as this is a requirement for most schools. Depending on which school you go to, you may have to take SAT or ACT as well, but they may waive it for international students, so refer to the school website for further information. (I was required to take them myself).

    If money is not an issue for you, by all means, I would recommend going to university in US. You get a really good education, and the experience itself will be unforgettable.
     
  5. Dec 13, 2007 #4
    does a british citizen studying out of the US/EU have to take the tofel? and what do i have to do to do a SAT test? do i have to do it in the US?
     
  6. Dec 13, 2007 #5
    If you come from a country which English is a primary language (Britain, New Zealand ETC), then you don't have to take TOEFL. I believe you can take the SAT outside of US. Contact ETS to find out more about it.
     
  7. Dec 13, 2007 #6

    jtbell

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    In particular, schools that are operated by a state (New York, California, Michigan, etc.) charge different tuition for in-state versus out-of-state students. This is because the schools are supported by taxes paid by the residents of the states that run them.

    Non-state (private) schools aren't supported by tax money, so they don't distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students.
     
  8. Dec 13, 2007 #7
    Canada is not out of the question either, but it seems like you guys are avoiding the country all together? My University has tons of international students from US/EU/Asia, greats schools as well I might add. Just make sure you pick the tight one for the field you want to go into, physics, not too sure.
     
  9. Dec 13, 2007 #8
    Most Canadian schools only allow exceptional students to go directly from a B.Sc. to a Ph.D. Everyone else has to do a Master's in between. So that may or may not be a reason to not apply here.

    And another thing is, every time you want to go to a conference in the U.S., you have the border to worry about.

    EDIT: whoops, I didn't notice that this thread was about undergraduate schools. In that case, Canada should definitely be an option, as our tuition fees are much cheaper, even for out-of-state students.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2007 #9

    mgb_phys

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    I'm going to stick my neck and say that for ugrad the quality of education from a highly ranked physics dept in UK/USA/Canada isn't going to differ too much.

    Next question is where do want to live?
    If you like big cities then London (UCL/Imperial) is great
    If you like beaches+ocean UCLA is nice
    If the only time you ever leave the lab is for an annual star trek convention then consider Caltech!
     
  11. Dec 14, 2007 #10
    I would second mgb phys's comment.
    It'd be great to go to a school like Berkely, Yale, Harvard. However, the education at the undergrad level isnt going to be too much different than other US/Canadian universities. Thus if money is a concern (whihc it may be for foreign students) you should not put so much emphasis on which school is the ebst. Rather consider where will be financially feasible and more over and more importantly where do you want to live? I mean honestly come on, your 3+ undergrad years should be a fun time and if you won't have fun at Princeton or Yale, then you need to find a different school.
     
  12. Dec 14, 2007 #11
    Finance is not a problem, what is a problem is degrees and requirements.SAT s seem to be unavailable where I live. What I want to do in my 3+ undergrad years is live in a lab, learn as much as possible, be able to talk my opinions on some subjects to people who are leaders in their fields, and have fun. Buying an xbox360 and/or a goldfish tank is also something that would be a plus, but the main thing i want to do is LEARN. Where should i go?
     
  13. Dec 14, 2007 #12

    mgb_phys

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    Really only you can decide that - personally I did ugrad at UCL (london) Phd Cambridge (UK) and have worked in the US (Caltech).
    Of these I would recommend UCL - it's not just scientists (like Imperial/MIT/Caltech), you get to live in a great city, and there will be students from every country.
    Cambridge has the advantage that the colleges mean you meet a lot of different people (and it's pretty), but ugrad courses have such short terms you don't do anything other than cram for 8 weeks then go away. Leaving foreign students either stuck there out of term or constantly travelling home.
    I don't have recent experience of teaching in US ugrad courses but it used to be that they were much broader, requiring you to take lots of arts courses and assumed a much lower level of physics/maths knowledge on entry so the intro course were very intro.

    The other sad thing about the US at the moment is that it is a very difficult place for foreigners to live in /travel to. I don't know what nationality (skin colour!) you are but every none US/Canada passport holder gets 'special' treatment - which means delays/hassles and generally a feeling that you shouldn't be there.
     
  14. Dec 14, 2007 #13

    jtbell

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    In another thread a few months ago you said that you live in Syria. Apparently AMIDEAST provides the SAT and other testing services in the Middle East. They don't list an office in Syria, but they do list one in Lebanon. Does the political situation prevent travel to Lebanon? You might try contacting AMIDEAST anyway, if you haven't done so already.
     
  15. Dec 14, 2007 #14
    Travel between here and lebanon is pretty easy, no visas or anything like that, you just need your ID card, and its only an hours drive away to Beirut. It's only the politicians o dont like each other.
    Currently i have my heart set on going to CalTech. I'm also thinking of oxbridge, imperial, UCL and MIT if I can. I'll definately take a better look at UCL...
     
  16. Dec 14, 2007 #15

    mgb_phys

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    Before you automatically pick a hot-house like Caltech/MIT/Cambridge - think am I an ultra-nerd. Not necessarily am I clever enough, but do I want to spend 3 years in a very high pressure enviroment do nothing but cramming for the next exam/tutorial/problem class?

    They are all good places to go for grad school but there is more to university than just study!
     
  17. Dec 15, 2007 #16
    Believe me, currently i study 4-5 hours on weekdays, and up to 9 hours on weekends, without exams. I don’t believe that a student can be under more pressure than a life-deciding (literally) exam in a few months. I have spent 3 years in a pretty high pressure environment. and its like living in a pressure cooker. if not ant any of the previously mentioned universities, where should I consider going?(Damascus university is not a place I want to be... they don’t know what a quark is)
     
  18. Dec 15, 2007 #17
    "Life-deciding exam"?
    that's certainly an interesting term, perhaps against the ideas Mgb and I as well as others are trying to tell you.
    We understand you are dedicated to your studies, you want to learn, and have experience in highpressure environments
    we just want you to realize that as stated before, there is more to college (university) than study. Yes study is important, no one is denying that, however it is not the sole thing you do whilst an undergrad. You should not plan on restricting yourself to "living in a lab" in fact I think its shocking that you say you want to live in a lab for the enxt 3 years. I have lab experience myself from general physics labs as a student, general physics labs as a TA, multiple research projects and also work in a physical chemistry lab for a summer internship. I can safely say that if I ever find myself living in a lab and liking it and or wanting more of it, I hope one of my close friends will slap me in the face promptly
     
  19. Dec 15, 2007 #18
    yes, life-deciding. you study for a year, then go an do exams over a 2 week period on all the stuff you studied. after that, when the results come out, you are rated on your marks. for instance medicine requires 236/240, pharmacy or dentistry require 232/240 and IT 230/240. and your competing with over 90 000 other students.
    I do not want to really live in a lab, but I’ve never seen a chemical reaction of the hundreds that I have to memorize I’m my chemistry book actually being done in front of me. same goes for physics, although that goes as far as a teacher actually telling us that this(his index finger) is a moving center of mass, in circular motion, and that(his pinkie) is acceleration. so one starts to get excited at the concept of seeing a purple colored gas appearing when liquid A is poured slowly onto liquid B for real instead of being told to imagine it
    I went to the British council, and was told that I have to study for a year in Britain for something called a foundation exam, and that I could get into any university in the UK if I finish an under-grad course in a recognized Syrian institute(such as Damascus university, the research center etc...), so that means I probably wont be able to do under-grad in the EU/UK/US anyway. oh darn.
    I am dedicated to my studies( although I think a large amount of it is useless) and love to learn, to such a degree that my parents hide books from me. I’m just a little frustrated at the fact that what I am learning will be useless when I finish my end of year exams, and things like that.
    All of your help is much appreciated, I thank you for it and respect you for taking the time to help me decide on deciding my future.
    Does anyone think that studying for my under-grad at the research center is worth it?
     
  20. Dec 16, 2007 #19
    I know its easier said than followed, but there's isn't a thing as a life-deciding exam. From your own assessment of yourself, its obvious that you're a good student and will make it to the school of your choice. Plus you don't seem to have any (major) financial issues either. So as the more experienced forum members have suggested, relax and make a wise decision. Although I am from India, and I know next to nothing about the system elsewhere (:-D) I have seen that quite a few people experience a change of heart during their undergrad phase which would either result in a change in interests or worse, loss of them. IMHO, the more important thing is to choose your major wisely. Isolate your interests and figure out if you're interested in research/you want to do something else after BS. There are some nice 'guides' about careers on this sub-forum...check them out. I suppose you'll be better informed after the freshman year about all this, but if you really do have such a wide choice as MIT/Princeton/Imperial/Yale/Berkeley/etc, then maybe you could do some research on what fields they're good at (but I'd still go with mgb_phys's advice if I were in this situation!). Besides, I really do not think I can figure out which univ is better than the other in some field...I'm told its a practice some students follow, but I don't feel I can ever asssess them this way...it would be a n-th order hyperfine splitting carried out just for the sake of it. However, you could go with labs, facilities, electives, options, etc.

    Anyway, to elaborate on the life-deciding part, I'd say you have to pay something to get something in return...if you don't like your education system which defines this "life-deciding exam", then so be it...welcome to the group of individuals who are forced to be a part of a system we don't like ourselves, but we have to go through anyway and are---as students--unable to change ;-). You won't always have to cram stuff, and there will be more palatable things to do eventually...think of this as a road to get there :-) Besides, I don't think your life can be decided by the outcome of one exam, if you're so committed to learning. I'm sure something will work out, provided you're open to a lot of different opportunities, some of which may not be immediately appealing or pleasing.

    Best of luck!

    [I'm unusually optimistic this morning...I guess I should get some sleep now.]
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  21. Dec 18, 2007 #20
    thanks maverick. It seems to me like its probably going to be pretty difficult to get into any place in the EU/US. I've contacted UCL, imperial, CalTech, MIT, Cambridge and oxford. all of them say that the 'al-shahada al-thanaweyah'(syrian highschool diploma) isint sufficient for me to have a competative application, and the UK ones say i have to apply via UKACS. so that leaves me the national research center. i have to get 318/340 to get into that horrid place, which has a TINY physics department. oh well..
     
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