Applying to U.S. schools? Get good advice, online and off.

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So you’ve decided you’d like to study in the United States. Congratulations!

You’ll need to prepare, and a great place to start is EducationUSA’s Online College Fair on November 19. Registration is free, and you’ll get the chance to chat online with representatives of more than 150 top U.S. colleges and universities and EducationUSA advisers. And if you want to talk to a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking EducationUSA adviser, you can do so during a November 20 webchat starting at 10 a.m. EST.

What happens if you miss the online fair?  You have other options, and experts at the U.S. Department of State have plenty of advice.

First, they recommend that you visit your local EducationUSA advising center. The State Department’s EducationUSA network has more than 400 advising centers in 170 countries, and its website can help you find a center near you.  

EducationUSA’s Krishna Das, himself a former international student, says your local adviser will help you determine which schools to apply to and guide you through the application process.

Second, improve your English-language skills as much as possible. Understanding English through reading, listening and writing will make you less anxious about keeping up academically, and you’ll be better able to navigate everyday life in the United States.

Taking an ESL (English as a Second Language) class is helpful, even if you already have a working knowledge of English, and most U.S. universities, along with community colleges, offer ESL classes.

Finally, research the campus resources at each school you’re considering. Learn what kind of support systems are available for international students, such as tutoring and mentoring, counseling, English-language assistance, housing options, extra-curricular activities and student organizations.

In other words, make comparisons between the various schools to which you’re applying and find out the relative merits of each institution. That way, if you’re accepted by more than one, you’ll have a sound basis for deciding which will be the best fit for you.

Now, it’s time to get started! Go to EducationUSA to register for the Online College Fair.