5 Things you Need to Know about American Colleges/Universities

Thinking about attending college in the United States?

Then it is probably a good idea to understand the system and the differences compared to other countries.

Some of us completed a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree or both.

During this experience, we figured out 5 key points to prepare for when studying in the USA.

We hope you find this helpful so let’s get started:

1. American Colleges & Universities are Expensive

Studying in America isn’t cheap. You can easily walk out with a Bachelor’s Degree with 30 Thousand Dollars in debt (or more).

Many countries outside of the United States have either free tuition or a very low fee.

Be prepared that this won’t be the case here.

Education is super costly and you should be prepared to either start saving or accrue a lot of debt.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We will talk about some possible solutions and relief below.

2. Regional vs. National Accreditation

This American concept was new to us and it is very important to know.

Colleges/Universities are either categorized as regionally or nationally accredited.

These two are not the same and have major differences.

And it is important to know these differences before you make your final choice.

The type of accreditation is evaluated by independent agencies that determine the quality of education provided by colleges.

Credits (that you receive from your completed classes) are more widely accepted from a Regionally Accredited College than from a Nationally Accredited College.

Regionally Accredited Colleges/Universities are more accepted and held to higher standards. 

That’s why we recommend prioritizing a regionally accredited school over a nationally accredited one.

Makes sense?

That doesn’t mean you cannot be successful with a nationally accredited College Degree.

But it is important to be educated about the differences.

Sometimes a particular program provided by the college (for example a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration) may receive a different accreditation than the college itself.

Here is a fictional example:

“You want to get a Master’s Degree in Marketing at The University of Houston. You find out that the University of Houston is nationally accredited. Now you are bummed and think this College has a lower standard. But you decide to look up their actual Marketing Degree and find out that this particular program/degree has a regional accreditation. This means that this degree has higher standards (on the regional accreditation level) than other degrees offered by The University of Houston.”

Now you are back to being happy and apply to become a student ?

We hope this example helped you understand the fine differences that you should pay attention to when picking a school.

So, make sure you double-check on that before you make your final decision.

3. Private vs Community Colleges

When you pick a place to pursue your degree you have the choice between private or community colleges/universities.

Private colleges are usually more costly. Many private colleges offer on-campus housing (also called dorms) where you live with other students until you graduate.

The number of students per class is usually smaller (which is beneficial).

Many private schools offer perks and events that community colleges do not (but again, that comes with a higher price).

Community Colleges are usually more affordable and cheaper than private ones because they receive funding from the State.

But the number of students per class is likely higher, meaning you likely get less individual attention and don’t get the “intimate feel”.

You should also consider the fact that you likely pay a higher price if you decide to attend a College/University outside of the State you reside in.

This is called “Out of State Tuition” and can be charged by both private and community colleges.

4. Consider Online Education

We love Online Colleges for several reasons (cost is a big one).

Here are the pros and cons of Online Education:


  • Depending on the school, Online Degrees can be A LOT cheaper than traditional/campus colleges.
  • You have more flexibility when completing your degree from home.
  • Depending on the school, you can complete your classes a lot faster than in a traditional classroom setting.
  • Some online schools allow you to complete your degree completely at your own pace, allowing you to graduate a lot faster (Western Governors University is one of them).


  • You have to be very disciplined and independent to be successful.
  • You can’t immediately talk to a teacher the way you can in traditional schools.
  • You don’t have the traditional “Campus” experience where you can meet other students, become friends and spend time with them.
  • Team assignments and other tasks are remote, and you may feel a little isolated at times (no face-to-face experiences).

Online Colleges are a blessing for many, but you have to be the right fit for it to succeed. Because of the reduction in costs and time to graduate, it is definitely an option to consider.

5. Scholarships

You may be turned off by the high costs of studying in the United States.

If you have plenty of savings then this may not be a concern for you.

BUT if money is tight, you have another great option to look into. Scholarships.

The United States offers thousands of different scholarships to help students with their financial struggles and pay some (sometimes even all) of their tuition costs.

However, you really need to do your research on which ones you are eligible for.

Some scholarships are tied to your location (for example, State of residency).

Some scholarships are tied to your ethnicity (for example, scholarships for African Americans or Native Americans).

There are also a few scholarships for students that came from another country (non-American citizens).

And if you are a military spouse, you can apply for specific scholarships as well.

For example, SEAP (Spouse Education Assistance Program) or MyCAA.

No matter what you are looking for, a great spot to start searching for scholarships (besides Google) are Scholarship Search Engines such as Career One Stop or Peterson’s.

Taking the next steps in your American College Education Journey

You can probably tell that finding the right college won’t be as easy as a walk in the park.

What really helps is being educated about tuition costs, scholarships, on-campus vs. online schools and the type of accreditation.

Having this knowledge will make your American Education Journey easier in the long run.

Want to share your experience of pursuing a degree in the United States?

If so, we would be excited if you send us a message HERE or tag us on Facebook and Instagram.


Your Integr8 USA Team ?

Find more information about Education in America below:

Evaluating Your Education in the USA

Education in the USA – Overview

The American School System