Are you Competitive Enough to Make it in America?

There is an undeniable excitement about coming to study in the States – one reason why some international students do it – but it’s not all excitement.

Working in the GWU library
You're about to hear the truth about schoolwork in the States...

Yes, it is America. Yes, it is the land of freedom. Yes, it’s the place where different cultures clash…and live together in peace. However, you guys might agree with me, it’s not easy to leave home, to leave the security of being surrounded by the family, friends and people who loves and care about us.  And doing it raises some questions:

Is it worth it? Can you rise up to the expectation? And are you competitive enough to survive America?

You might be sitting in front of your computer watching a show or a documentary about America, which tells you about the breathtaking view of skyscrapers in the Big Apple, New York City, the beautiful warm weather in San Diego, and the huge parties along the beaches of the Sunshine State, Florida.

Just so you know, it’s all true and they did not lie to you. I remember I had an adrenaline rush the first time I visited Times Square in NYC. I can’t find any words in the dictionary to describe how I felt at that moment. Someday, when you get lucky and go there, you will know what I mean.

Beaches are the best. We do party and we do have lots of fun with friends.

Unfortunately, TV and movies never show the other side of what students have to do to survive America.

Lots of books (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user sleepyneko)
Lots of books (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user sleepyneko)

Education in the States is really different than in other places.   Yes, there is the traditional A, B, C, and D grading system, and you get to be in the Dean’s list if you have all A on your transcript. However, these grades don’t just come from acing your tests. There are a lot more requirements for classes here.

Some have papers that you have to write every week, others have group projects you have to work on with your classmates, presentations you do in the class, or research you do by yourself to prove a thesis you come up with.

There comes a night when you have a couple of projects for different classes, a paper, and an exam to study for.  And that night you ask yourself, “What did I get myself into?”

I’m not trying to intimidate you, but you should know what it really is to study in the States.  One thing I can promise you all, it is worth all the hard work you give into it. And the more time you give to your studying, the more open doors you will have by the time you finish your degree.


  1. Expectations in classroom and online course are high, the author of this post nailed that with also stating how worth it all is. I just wanted to comment more about online course, they aren’t anything to shake a stick at (that’s an idiom that means you can’t simply disregard online course because you think you are saavy on the computer). Online course can be a real pain in the neck, especially since at the community college level, some teacher are only are hired for a summer or two semesters; you never see the teacher; some teachers use their personal email only and not the school administered email, so getting in touch with them out about a late assignment, misunderstanding in the directions, missed homework, make up test dates can be next to impossible with the result of you failing a class or even worse, scoring a C in the class, which means you can’t retake the class for a better grade. Too, some college systems note that on your transcripts the class was an online one and some universities won’t accept online course for transfer credit. Also, if you plan to get ahead by taking an online course in the summer while on vacation between semesters, make sure your country doesn’t have some sort of filter that denies you digital access to your online course in Moodle or Blackboard (two online interfaces used by most schools in the USA–at least in California). Okay, so get out there, study, but be careful when considering online course. God bless you in the name of Jesus!

  2. It’s very nice to hear from you brother Mohammed, United Stated is not only the land of freedom, it is the place that you can find yourself effective and mean something to others.

    United States is the country of opportunities, many people came from France, U.K, Germany, and Japan; off course they have freedom in their countries but they never got the fair opportunity and chances which are available here in United States more than in their countries.

  3. Great description Mohammad. I really inspired by reading your personal experience. Keep it up dear bro, I also plan and wish to make it in America. Actually, I take this as the ever biggest challenge in my life. I am keen to read more of your valued experiences. Right now, I am fighting here to cross throughout bundles of challenges until I make it to ever greatest land of best quality education, the United States.

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