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USA Studies Tips and Advice 4 - Location!

Fri 06 May 2016

The USA and Practical Learning

The United States is frequently associated, and with good reason, for practical learning.  Whether it’s science or engineering or business or arts, there is an emphasis in America on students practicing what they learn.  Not just studying and memorizing the textbook.  And one of the ways that this is achieved is through work experience – be it an internship or a co-op or even full-time work upon graduation. 

American universities typically hold the view that hands-on experience, in addition to classroom learning, greatly benefits students in the long run.  And as American companies are often worldwide leaders in their respective industries – this makes sense as a learning strategy.

Does location matter then?

So if you recognize that American education focuses on practical learning, it becomes important to consider location as one key factor when choosing a school.  Why?  Well, simply put, different parts of America are better at different things.  This can be the result of geography, climate, infrastructure…. or a variety of different factors. 

Thus, if a student wishes to put his or her knowledge to use in the best forum possible, it is wise to consider location.  For me, it is one of the most important things to consider relative to a student’s major.

Of course, location is not the only thing to consider – academic quality/reputation, cost, scholarship and safety are all important as well.  But location should certainly be one factor in the ultimate decision of where to study. 

This is particularly true for international students in my opinion.  There are two interesting reasons why I believe this to be the case:

  1. Frequently, students are going to be studying great distances away from their families.So, proximity to family is not really a deciding factor in the choice of location.This thus puts even more emphasis on choosing a strong location for one’s major.

    For example, I chose to stay close to my family when attending university.  I wanted to visit home on the weekends once a month and have my mother do my laundry.  I completely neglected the idea of choosing a school and location based on my major.  I got lucky…in that Boston is a good place for business and finance, but New York is even better for finance. 

    International students (unless they have relatives in the USA) don’t usually have this problem.  They can do their own laundry and hopefully choose the best location for their major too. 

  2. There is a significant financial investment made by the families of international students – I have seen first hand how many families sacrifice a great deal for their children to have an overseas education. In these situations, greater emphasis is placed on gaining the skills and knowledge necessary to land a good job upon graduation. And it is the work experience and internships that give students a leg up for employment.Companies look at a student’s CV or resume – and if it shows relevant industry experience, it makes a big difference.

So which location is best for which major?

America is a big country.  I do not want to say that one cannot study a certain major in a certain location – I just want to make the point that location matters for work experience.  (It also matters because the schools will often have teachers and faculty members who may have industry experience in those top firms in that location.) 

The ONCAMPUS programs are located in some of the best locations in America for work experience – Texas, California, New York and Boston.  It would be hard to find better states and locations to work in.  We will get into specific companies in a later blog, but according to Crain’s (a top business magazine in the USA), 54 of the Fortune 500 companies in America are based in California.  That puts it at #1 among US states.  Two states are tied for #2 each with 52 of the Fortune 500 companies…yes, Texas and New York. 

Location does matter.  And while each area may have a different specialty that the public knows it for – California with technology, Texas with oil and gas/energy, New York with finance/arts/fashion/theatre/music, Boston for its research centers and medical centers and famous universities, these do not limit what students can study in each location.  But they all provide valuable starting locations as students think about work experience. 

Jack

 



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