More than one million international students queue up for admissions to their dream institutions in the USA each year. The USA, without a doubt, is the Mecca of research and higher education. Landing one’s dream institute is a cherished goal for all the applicants.
However, only a chosen few make it to the coveted institutions. Students applying for admissions in any of the numerous educational institutions are well aware of the prerequisites for applying. The dream of pursuing higher education in a foreign country is a well-planned and determined decision. Most students toil hard to score the required grades.
They put in a lot of mind and effort, scouting for the best institutions. Educational institutions that can help further their academic and professional goals. But only a few have a laid-out roadmap to successfully and effectively make it through the entire application process.
Lesser still are the ones who are aware of the options they have to choose from while enrolling themselves in the dream institutions. These options directly affect one’s stay, finances, and of course, studies.
One of the numerous options that a student has to choose while enrolling oneself into the dream institute is; whether he or she will be a full-time student?
Why a Full-time Student?
The option to choose whether one wants to be a full-time student might not ring any alarm bells, as it is an essential prerequisite for the most popular and common F1 student visa. Being a full-time student has far-reaching implications that directly work in three critical areas of a student’s life in the USA.
Firstly, it determines whether a student is eligible for accommodation provided by the institution. Lodging and boarding, without doubt, is the most crucial aspect of one’s stay in the USA.
For private accommodation can quickly burn a hole into one’s pocket and can be detrimental to one’s educational productivity.
Secondly, opting to be a full-time student directly affects the course credits. Each of these options carries different awards. The number of course credits earned during the duration of the course determines the eligibility of a student for enrollment to higher education, independent research, or for the more ambitious ones; professional qualification.
Thirdly, being a full-time student in the USA can determine a student’s eligibility to apply for financial aid like scholarships and grants. It also helps a student to earn a few extra bucks working part-time.
Most students applying for admission to any of the educational institutions in the USA, have no qualms signing for full-time student status, as F1 student visas require a student to maintain a minimum full-time student course load. Therefore, knowing what is considered a full-time student in the USA is all the more critical.
Who Is a Full-time Student in the USA?
The answer to the question about being a full-time student in the USA might seem simple. Yes, it is. However, the general perception of ‘any student, who attends lectures regularly in an educational institution,’ is far from complete.
It might surprise many that there is no fixed number of course credits or contact hours for all educational institutions across the country that determines whether a student is a full-time student. The number of credits one chooses to complete during the duration of the course(s) enrolled for, in any educational institute, determines the full-time status of a student.
But the number of course credits or course hours varies with each state and institute. Every state and the educational institute have its fixed hours that make a full-time student. Only the educational institutions with regular students, course structure, and a full-time faculty can confer the full-time student status.
Moreover, the definition of a full-time student educationally, may not fit in its entirety, while filing one’s financial paperwork.
So, what does being a full-time student in the USA means educationally?
Yes, the amount of time one decides to spend attending classes in a government recognized educational institute with a regular faculty, student body, and course study determines if a student can be designated as a full-time student.
It is to be mentioned here that, online institutions, on the job training institutes and correspondence colleges cannot offer full-time student status.
Each educational institution has its parameters to calculate course credits. The calculation is often determined by the semester or term system of the particular institution.
However, any student that opts for more than half of the course load is considered a full-time student. This might mean a minimum of twelve credits in some institute and fourteen in others.
Thus, it is essential to know about the number of course credits or contact hours one must earn and complete to be eligible to be a full-time student in one’s institute. The information is often available on the institute’s website. A brief visit to the administrative office or a discussion with the faculty is all that it takes to find the exact information.
Being a full-time student in the USA has its perks; some of them are as follows:
- F1 student visa: The most popular student visa enables one to pursue advanced training programs, up to one year after completion of the course. It also allows students to work part-time up to twenty hours a week within the campus.
- College Accommodation: Only full-time students are eligible to apply for accommodation provided by the educational institution.
- More course credits: A full-time student earns more course credits and stands a good chance of admissions to advanced courses and realizing their professional goals without additional enrollment to complete the required number of course credits.
- Part-time jobs: Being a full-time student with the right visa makes one eligible to earn a few extra bucks every week in part-time employment.
While being a full-time student in the USA has its perks, one must consider all its pros and cons because being a full-time student is not just about attending more lectures.