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How to choose a US university based on location

Confused about which American city/state to study in?

The US comprises of 50 states and has various popular cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Austin, etc., which are known for their cosmopolitan culture. Each city has a charm of its own, and of course, a choice of world -class institutions to choose from. 

In this article, I’ll discuss how the right location can help you shortlist a US university. 

The right state matters

Each state in the US is known for a different specialisation. For instance, if you are a student seeking to study Computing/Information Technology/Electrical Engineering as your major, you can consider to select a university on the west coast or somewhere around Silicon Valley (also called the Bay Area) –it is the global centre of technological innovation and home to hundreds of tech companies including Apple, Google, Oracle, Facebook, Intel, Hewlett Packard, and many more.

If you are seeking to study Mechanical/Industrial/Manufacturing/Automotive Engineering as your major, then the state of Michigan might work the best of you. Michigan is home to many automotive companies like Ford, Fiat, General Motors, and Chevrolet who have their large-scale manufacturing plants here. Existence of these companies here means lucrative job opportunities for graduates in this field.

If you are a student seeking to study Business/Finance/Accounting as your major, then New York City (NYC) is the one for you. It is the largest centre for trading in public equity and debt capital markets. NYSE and NASDAQ are the two largest stocks exchanges in the world that are situated in NYC. In fact, top financial services companies like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are also based in New York.

In short, research a little over the employment scenario in the state you wish you study in. It is a good idea to discuss this in detail with your IDP counsellor over your free session. 

Make sound geographic decisions 

There can be three geographical settings of the university – Urban, Suburban and Rural, and this can significantly affect your cost of education. 

Studying in an urban setting may be a little expensive due to the high cost of living cost, but on the other side, a university in an urban setting might offer you more internship opportunities, better infrastructure, great public transportation options like trains, subways, and buses that cut down commute time and money. Some of the urban campuses are spread across the city, so there is a possibility some students may miss the on-campus setting while studying. Typical examples of urban campuses include the Pace University and New York University. 

How to find perfect US University by Location?

Studying in a suburban or rural setting will have a comparatively low cost of living but you can expect large campuses and more on-campus activities here. While public transportation may be a bit of challenge, it is always a better idea to own a car so that you don’t end up spending a lot on cab fares. In this case, a majority of students have to migrate to urban cities for job opportunities post completion of their studies. But that said, some of the best-known institutions in the world have rural settings, such as the Cornell University, Dartmouth College, etc. 

Do note that an urban residential lifestyle in cities like Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles would cost you approximately USD 800-1,000 per month (on sharing basis). This includes your rent, utilities, transportation and food, while the living cost in a suburban/rural setting in places like Texas, Kansas, Ohio and Indiana would cost you approximately USD 500-600 per month (on sharing basis).

Networking opportunities 

When you choose your US university, always look for the right networking opportunities for the course you have opted for. There should be ample internships, assistantships or capstone project opportunities for you to connect with the industry professionals while you are still studying. Most US universities also host multiple career fairs which is a good place to meet your dream job/company. For instance, universities located in the state of Texas, specifically multiple campuses of Texas A & M provide an opportunity to not only network during career fairs in their own campus but encourage students to attend job fairs being held at other campuses as well. However, in this current situation universities have to host these career fairs virtually, they still provide you with an opportunity to network during the pandemic. Do note, having a robust network can help you in land a job way before you start looking for it. 

Shortlisting the right university is indeed a very difficult task, and thus it is important for you to identify or list down the parameters that matter for you the most. While here we have covered only the location, there are many more factors you need to consider when finding that perfect university. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Reach out to us at IDP and we will help you find your right fit. 


Updated on October 23, 2020

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Soyal Mukesh Kothari 

Soyal is currently working with IDP as a Senior Counsellor for the USA. She has been with IDP for three years now at our Mumbai, Andheri Office. With an experience of over five years in the international education sector, she is adept in helping students shortlist universities, application process, visa counselling and documentation. She has also hosted various seminars and pre-departure events for US-bound students. 



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