Guide to choosing a U.S. college or university when living abroad

At this time of year many universities in the United States receive visitors, in the hope that admitted students will get a better feel for the university environment, feel comfortable and enroll. Of course, this is much easier for those who live in the United States. For foreign students, it is difficult for them to determine from afar which college campus is the best fit for them.

However, in this era, technology has made other parts of the world more accessible. Universities are taking advantage of this and sharing large amounts of information from their websites, social networks and online videos. Even official universities have increased efforts to visit foreign students in their home countries.

In a survey conducted by The Choice of India Ink, some universities with high foreign student populations were asked the following question: How do you think foreign students make the decision to enroll in a university without having visited the university campus?

Here are some of the responses from university officials:

Purdue University

In addition to offering virtual tours of its various campuses through its website, this university uses social media to communicate with admitted students; and they, in turn, can contact foreign student representatives. Parents participate in monthly chats with admissions counselors, and even have a Facebook page where they can share about their children's experiences at the university.

Columbia University

We encourage all admitted students, including international students, to explore Columbia University in depth and consider what life would be like as a student on this campus. Columbia admissions staff travel to dozens of countries each year to visit high schools and hold information sessions, where they bring the Columbia story to prospective students and connect them with others already enrolled from their own region. In addition, alumni of the university host receptions in various cities in the United States and around the world. The inability to visit the campus is not a disadvantage for students from other countries, as they have virtual resources, including access to other international students through online chats and social networks, as well as letters and e-mails from students, faculty and administrators. We also have a special website for admitted students that offers an interactive way to explore our campus, neighborhoods and New York City, and provides information on housing and visa options. Our goal is to make Columbia students, no matter how far they live from campus, feel welcome and informed.

Michigan State University

Students do best where they feel supported, connected and engaged with their faculty and each other. Some tips to consider:

Get a sense of the campus culture.What activities does the campus offer.What are its traditions.How is the student body composed (graduate/undergraduate, diversity, etc.).What support services are available for international students?

Get a sense of the campus environment. Is it in a small town or a big city? What is the campus look and feel like? Do most students live on campus? What are the residence programs like?

Check out the academic opportunities, especially in your area of study. Is it flexible? What opportunities are there for internships or research?

To find this information:

- Review photos and videos posted on the university's Web sites. Many campuses have YouTube channels.

- Check the university's Web page or Facebook page.

- Find out if there are alumni or regular students from your country with whom you can communicate.

- Locate forums or social networks that allow you to "check out" the campus.

- Contact EducationUSA from the country where you live.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we know how important it is for prospective students to know what to expect on campus. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is home to students from more than 100 countries, ranking second among all American universities (first among public universities) with the largest number of international students.

If you are not able to visit the campus, the university has its own social network, where you can watch videos made by the students themselves, learn about their experiences through student blogs, and view numerous photos of Illinois on our Flickr account. In addition, we invite you to join our Facebook page to meet your peers and begin to integrate into your community.

New York University

In addition to the above recommendations, we encourage you to spend as much time as possible visiting our Web sites, as well as reviewing college guides and online college search engines.

An increasing number of information sessions on selected schools are being conducted via Skype. In addition, we have increased the production of videos for students who are unable to visit us, such as the "Inside Guide to the New York Campus," which is a virtual tour of the entire university, accompanied by student anecdotes about various aspects of their campus life, available on our Web site.

Ohio State University

Research the colleges that interest you-their professors, statistics, and reputations. The "College Chart" is an invaluable resource for that information, as it ranks the nation's top universities, colleges, and regional universities, among other educational institutions.

Also, take a look at the Web sites of your favorite schools. What does the university promote on its official website: advances in research, student achievements, athletic triumphs? Does the university share your values and interests?

Imagine you are already a student at a university, and you go to their website to search for resources you may need, such as academic calendars, grades, contact information for professors, and ways to pay tuition. Did you find it easy to access everything you need to succeed?

Perhaps the most important aspect is to make sure that the university has an office for international affairs, where support is provided to foreign students in areas as diverse as visa information or cultural adjustments. Moving to another country involves a number of challenges, even without a college degree at stake.