Are Smaller US State Universities Your Best Option?

by neville

The Brand Name, Ivy League, Big School Issue

While we are talking about types of universities we thought we should also enlighten you on the “Brand Name” university issue. In our more than 15 years of advising thousands of prospective international students on studying in the US we have seen too many become hung up on brand name universities.

It is great if after following our selection process you arrive at the conclusion that a “Brand Name” university is what you must attend. But often we find students’ fixation on these so called “Brand Name” universities to be based on superficial analysis and inadequate counsel.

Luckily you won’t be one of those students. The truth is there are several smaller lesser known US Universities that are true gems just waiting to be discovered by you. Before you are tempted to follow the “Brand Name” crowd, and waste time and money find out why these smaller state universities might be your best option.

It should comfort you to know that the majority of doctors, engineers, accountants, and even political leaders, etc that we helped to gain access to US universities got their start at one of these smaller universities.

The Ivy League is NOT the only good game in town

You have heard of Harvard and Yale, probably Columbia, and the University of Michigan. You may have even heard of some other universities through a friend or relative, or media outlet. That previous knowledge gives the school its “name recognition” to you, and that name recognition will further guide your perception.

But consider this! There are several thousand well known, fully accredited universities typically comprehensive institutions that may be unknown to you. Each of the fifty US states operates at least one higher education system.

In addition there are numerous “independent” and typically smaller state colleges and universities. Texas, for example, has four distinct and separate university systems, each with several affiliate institutions, plus some unaffiliated independent ones.

Why Smaller State Schools, and What to Look For?


Every state offers a universities that will qualify in this category, therefore, geography and location need not be a concern, you have the option to pick your ideal place. However, unless you are trying to be near relatives or a specific place, pick your location by region rather than by state. That will open up more options, and it will give you a summary that allows comparison among several states.

For example, you can pick the Northeast if you like large metropolitan areas, all four seasons, and access to immigrant communities. Or, if you prefer smaller towns, warmer weather, and a slower pace, then it would be ideal to choose the South or Southwest.


School size is something to really focus on. The “smaller” state schools can range from a couple thousand to as much as ten or twelve thousand. Smaller schools tend to have proportionally less international students as well. Don’t be daunted by that; it can actually work to your advantage.

These smaller schools typically love to get international students like you even though they may not aggressively recruit. You will find the atmosphere there very friendly, the services adaptable and personal, and the admission standards and requirements a tad less rigid than at the better known universities.

Less Competitive, More Scholarships

These schools, having less international students, typically are more willing to provide you with both employment opportunities on campus, and less competitive access to scholarship opportunities after you arrive. In fact, it would be in your interest to inquire about such opportunities before you settle on a school. However, be careful not to factor any potential employment income or scholarship into your financial planning.

We’ve attended small state univerisites so we know

We are deliberately advocating for these smaller state colleges for reasons that are practical yet personal. We are the product of one of these smaller state universities, so we are familiar with their challenges and their offerings.

You can get to the next step—advanced degrees, or gainful employment and career opportunities—just as effectively as a graduate of a smaller state school. The main reason is that their credentials are recognized since they are held to the same accreditation standards as the larger schools. They will cost significantly less, and you will find the adjustment logistics much easier to embrace.

All of this is general, yet very typical information. Nonetheless, our endorsement of smaller state school, as a viable option for you as an international student, should not be construed so as to preclude other types of schools. Ultimately, you will do your research, guided by our advice, of course, and find that university that is just right for you.

By now you should be very clear on the type of US University that’s right for you, and also appreciate the advantages available in both “brand name” and small state universities. Now it’s time to find out the about the 3 Ultimate Factors in Selecting a US university. After that you should have all you need to select the right university/college for you.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bigboy Ncube September 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I am a Zimbabwean looking for financial aid to do a masters in educational or occupational psychology


nelson July 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

please send me three universities that deal with computerscience and three colleges that deals with computerscience in different states.
please give the address.


ragu December 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

i want job and study phd for us.please send the university details, scholarship and visa status.


Leave a Comment