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Graduating As an International Student… What’s Next?

By Bruna Pacheco
On October 25, 2019

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

After spending four years far from home, family and friends, this adventure is finally paying off, because it’s almost graduation time. 

There are many reasons so many foreign students come to the United States in order to start school, to pursue a degree in a different country.

Some people come because their country does not have an education system as good as in America; others are athletes and really good at what they do, so they get offered an athletic scholarship and play for a little bit longer (in some cases back home, they’ve had to stop playing and go to college;) also they could have an opportunity to go as an exchange student… 

However, there is a question that all international students asked ourselves, “What’s next in our journey?” 

There are not many options, but there are certainly some out there.

Once you graduate from an undergraduate program, you are allowed to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training). It’s a temporary employment that has to be related to the student’s major area of study, and you can receive up to 12 months to stay in the country a little longer after graduation in order to work. You must apply for OPT 90 days before you complete the academic year.

Another alternative would be to go straight into grad school and further your academic education in a more specialized advanced degree. 

If you choose the grad school path, once you graduate from a graduate program, you can apply one more time for the OPT, being able to work, again, for up to 12 months in the field you received a degree in.

If you were a student-athlete, you have  a good chance to become a GA (Graduate Assistant) and get your Masters while working as an assistant coach for the sport that you are good at.

Last but not least, another possibility would be to go back to your home country and start your life there. This can be a good solution if you were very homesick in the last four years during your time in the U.S.

People are very different when it comes to how they feel; while some would miss home like crazy and can’t wait to go back, others do not want to go back home for several reasons. There’s also some athletes that even after playing for four years, they just don’t want anything related to their sport anymore.

So, whatever case you are, don’t forget to weigh all the possibilities before coming up with this important decision. And of course, make sure you are happy in the end!


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