How to Determine City and State Preference for College Education in the United States

The United States is the third largest country in the world. The distance from New York to Los Angeles is around 5,000 kilometers. We are talking about an area of ​​9.834 million square kilometers in total. In this regard, choosing a location (city, state) for college education is one of the most difficult decisions for many international students.

Students who would like to continue their education in the United States have to consider many factors while making their choices. For example, there are financial concerns. Naturally, scholarships and living costs are very important factors when deciding where to go to school. Another example is the rankings of the schools. Some students make their decisions directly, taking into account the success and recognition of the schools. A student’s decision factors may also include the safety of the city where the school is located and its distance to major attractions or population centers. However, in this article, I would like to focus on a slightly different topic: location choices based on my 20 years of experience in the US.

Our topic is about to which states’ geographical features come to the forefront in such a large country. In other words, I will try to answer the question of which states in America are the best to study for international students. What I write here includes the information I have gathered from my personal travels as well as the comments I have received from the students that I have worked with. Of course, it is not possible for us to analyze all states and cities; instead, we will focus specifically on some of the most popular states and cities in the US for international study.

There are 50 states in the United States. The largest of these is the state of Texas. The smallest is the state of Rhode Island, whose area is only 2,678 square kilometers. It is a very green country, and most of the US is flat land; mountainous areas are relatively few. So where are the places with the most beautiful geography and climate in this country? The answer is California. Yeah. California’s nature and weather are legendary. California has sunny and mild weather 300 days a year. It is a little mountainous. And its proximity to the ocean creates a very nice environment. The richest and most famous celebrities of America live in this state. Hollywood and Silicon Valley are here. The biggest companies’ headquarters are also located in this state, including those of Apple, Oracle, Alphabet, Disney, Intel, HP, Facebook, GAP, Visa, PayPal, eBay, Netflix, Tesla, Yahoo, and Chevron. I also assume every person that is reading this blog know the two famous cities of this state: Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dozens of smaller cities also run along the coastline. Of course, it is necessary to consider San Diego separately. It is one of the best cities to live in the US. California is also my favorite state.

I can say that geography and weather also affect people psychologically. California ranks 6th in the happiest states ranking. For more information on the happiness index, please refer to this link. I assume you have seen the sunset from Hollywood movies. It is very natural to have beautiful universities in such an environment. I do not want to talk much about the schools themselves in this article, but I will mention the names of California’s most famous collegesStanford, UCLA, UC Berkley, and CalTech are the best schools in this state and are also among the best in the US.

I would also like to talk briefly about the state of Florida. First of all, the summer months in this state are very hot and humid. However, for 8 months of the year, Florida has very nice weather. There is almost no elevation in Florida; the highest point of this large state is 105 meters. Miami and Orlando are the most famous cities. Further, there are many theme parks in this state; Disney World, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center, and SeaWorld are all located in Florida. It is one of the most preferred places for retirees since it is relatively inexpensive. Apart from retirees, many Americans move this state from other states for the same reason. The beaches are beautiful, and you can see surfers almost everywhere. The crocodile is the symbol of this state. However, Florida is not a very happy state. It ranks 28th in the happiness indexUniversity of Florida is the best school in Florida followed by University of Miami and Florida State University. Lastly, the tuition of state colleges in Florida is incredibly low for state residents.

Let’s continue with the state of New York. The city of New York (New York City, or NYC) and the State of New York are two different things, which confuses many people. New York City is a city that includes the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island boroughs. The state of New York is an area of ​​141,300 km2, including NYC. In other words, if you eliminate certain cities outside of New York City in New York state, you will have empty lands, mostly forested.

However, most of the population lives in or around New York City. This city, formerly known as New Amsterdam, is the largest city in the US. Famous for its skyscrapers, NYC has the highest number of international students in its colleges. If you like an active lifestyle, NYC is the best city for you. This city is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Winters are cold and expect high humidity during summers. It is also close to the oldest and largest cities in the US such as Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Boston. Rents and car insurances are high compared to many other cities. I can also say that the tuitions of the universities are considerably higher than other states.

Finally, let’s talk about Texasthe largest state in the US. This state, which is famous for its deserts and heat, has a very nice atmosphere during the fall and winter months. This great state, which is known for its cities including Houston, Austin, St Antonio, and Dallas, is also home to many natural parks. Since Texas cities are relatively new, navigating them is relatively easy thanks to urban planning. Texas may have more canyons, caves, and mountainous areas than any other state. However, as in Florida, huge hurricanes can threaten the coastline in September and in October each year. Texas is in the middle of happiness index (it ranks 23rd). This state, where the living costs are lower, hosts dozens of universities. The highlights of these schools can be listed as follows:

(1) Rice University,

(2) University of Texas-Austin,

(3) Texas A&M University-College Station, and

(4) Baylor University.

Northern states, on the other hand, can be recommended for those who don’t have issues with cold weather. There are many financial advantages to going to a rural college, but if you do not like calm and quite places, I do not recommend states such as Montana, North Dakota, or South Dakota. However, your expenses for such things as rent and car insurance may be much lower in a rural state. As an international student, you also become more visible at colleges in those states.

In conclusion, I highly recommend that you evaluate the geography and weather of the states when choosing schools for your further education in the US. Further, it is very common for an international student to continue their education in the US in the same place where they started; that is, where they attended university. However, since financial issues are the most important factor for many students, the beautiful weather may not affect their decisions much. I highly recommend working with a professional consultant when you make your decisions, including narrowing down your city and state options for your further education in the United States.

Erkan Acar, PhD.

Copyright ©

All rights reserved by USA International Education Consulting LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form (except for critical reviews and other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law), including photocopying, recording or other electronic or mechanical means, without the prior written consent of the publisher. For permission requests, please write to