This is the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT.
For ten months, we have been talking about coming to study in the United States. This week, we complete that series and repeat some of the advice.
You should begin planning at least two years early.
Decide what kind of school interests you: Big or small, city or rural, public or private, two-year or four-year?
Two-year colleges, also known as community colleges, have not always gotten a lot of respect. Yet they are the largest part of the American higher education system. They often serve older and part-time students and those needing special help. But other students begin at a community college to save money, then finish at a four-year college or university.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced a plan to invest twelve billion dollars in community colleges over the next ten years. The goal is to help an additional five million students earn degrees or certificates. The president said jobs requiring at least an associate degree are expected to grow twice as fast in the coming years as jobs requiring no college experience.
To help with your college search, try to attend education fairs and visit an Education USA Advising Center. You can find the nearest one at educationusa.state.gov. Also visit school Web sites and sites where students share their experiences, like CollegeClickTV and zinch.com.
Apply to at least three schools. Make sure they are accredited. To do that, go to chea.org -- c-h-e-a dot o-r-g.
As soon as you are accepted, make an appointment for a visa interview at an American embassy or consulate. The State Department says it is working to reduce visa delays that have affected foreign science students and researchers over the past year.
Financial aid can be limited for international students. To reduce costs, you might look into online classes or a foreign campus of an American school.
During our Foreign Student Series we also talked about student life in the United States and programs to help international students. For example, writing centers can help teach the rules of American academic writing.
All the reports in our series -- including programs on admissions tests -- can be found at voaspecialenglish.com. Thanks to everyone who sent us questions. If you have a question, we might answer it in a future program. Click on Contact Us or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and country.
And that's the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Steve Ember.