Studying in America: Make the First Move to Study in the United States in 2016!

Admissions Representative From Indiana University. (photo credit: U.S. State Department).

By Aime Black and Katie Sleeman, Education Advisors

It’s a new year, and a perfect time to get on track with new goals. Is studying in America one of those dreams?

In 2015, over 1,400 New Zealand students studying in America pursued higher education degrees. These students are carving out their futures with undergraduate and graduate degrees ranging from music to architecture to neuroscience, and everything in between. Some are using the opportunity to continue with their sport, while others are taking advantage of internship opportunities in addition to their studies. We caught up with a few of these New Zealand students in November during International Education Week to get their advice….

Gabryel Oloapu

Gabryel Oloapu (Wagner College, Water Polo). Studying in America.
Gabryel Oloapu (Wagner College, Water Polo).

Wagner College, New York

Psychology and Marketing

Water Polo Team

On getting into an American college, Gabryel advises fellow Kiwi students, “Unlike New Zealand where there are only a few (universities), there are SO many and you aren’t going to fit into all of them. Each university has its pros and cons so make sure you look into all of that before making your decision.”

As a student athlete, Gabryel’s perspective on managing sports, academics, and social life is very clever.  Aside from knowing that academics come first, Gabryel understands “…once in college it [water polo/your sport] becomes your job.” Academics and sports go hand-in-hand as “the better your grades are and the better you are at your sport the more money you are likely to receive so that is always a bonus!” Gabryel has found ways to adjust to life at college, such as exploring neighboring areas, hanging out with her teammates, and getting involved in university clubs and mentorships. Read more about Gabryel here.

Rebecca Purvis

Rebecca Purvis.
Rebecca Purvis.

Arcadia University, Pennsylvania

Masters in Genetic Counseling

Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award

Rebecca spent a long time researching Masters programs at various universities before she committed and was careful to explore various funding opportunities, as well. “Universities and professional organizations in New Zealand do fund international students, but students should also look into graduate foundations, rotaries, volunteer societies functioning within your specific field and at the financial options at your prospective US institution,” says Rebecca. Her funding research brought her to Fulbright New Zealand, where she became a successful grantee of the Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award. Read more about Rebecca here.

Carolyn Zou

Carolyn Zou.Photo credit: Daisy Zou.
Carolyn Zou.Photo credit: Daisy Zou.

Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

Political Science

Carolyn is a first year student who has landed in the heart of cowboy country, in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s been impressed with the variety of style options with cowboy boots and is confident that after all of her research, Vanderbilt is the best cultural and academic fit for her. After compiling a long list of universities based on her standardized test results, Carolyn “read countless websites, blogs and watched videos to better understand the culture and character of each college to decide which would suit [her] the most.” Read more about Carolyn here.


Nick Crott

Nicholas outside Queens University, August 2015. Photo credit: Nick Crott.
Nicholas outside Queens University, August 2015. Photo credit: Nick Crott.

Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina

Sports Management

Swimming Team

Nick is an example of a seed planted, which sprouted at a much later time. That is, the idea of Queens University of Charlotte came as a result of events following his mother and sister attending high school exchanges in America. Even with some familiarity with the United States as a result of his mum and sister, it is interesting to know that Nick is still encountering new interesting cultural tidbits. Nick is proud that his kiwi accent has been well received by his peers, especially with such a diverse student population; there are students from over 40 different countries at Queens. As a first year freshman on campus, Nick shares this advice: “If you are not going to like things being different to New Zealand then stay home because you will be unhappy.” Read more about Nick here.

Ashley Campbell

Ashley Campbell. Studying in America
Ashley Campbell.

University of Missouri

PhD Biochemistry

Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award

Ashley has five years left to complete her PhD program, but she already has her sight set on taking her knowledge and experience back to New Zealand, where the field of structural biology is emerging. About her research opportunity at the University of Missouri, Ashley says, “Having international collaborators for future projects is an invaluable opportunity as a researcher.” She’s hoping that these connections will grow with the rest of her career. Ashley has already taken advantage of the social aspect of her program, saying “I have found when I have gaps in my knowledge I am easily able to ask classmates for help.” Read more about Ashley here.

Priyanka Shekar

Priyanka Shekar. Studying in America
Priyanka Shekar

Stanford University, California

Masters Music, Science and Technology

Looking back, Priyanka advises other kiwi students to plan way in advance for getting into an American university. “Timelines for university admissions, immigration visas and job applications run much longer than what we are used to in N.Z., often months or even a year ahead. Start planning early; it’s well worth the investment!”, she says. Priyanka compliments her choice in Stanford as being “one of the few universities that allowed me to specialize in the niche and innovative field of Music Technology because it’s uniquely positioned at the intersection of the arts and engineering.” So, Stanford was a great choice and the perfect fit. Read more about Priyanka here.

 * * *

Are you thinking about studying in America? There are thousands of opportunities for motivated students! Connect with EducationUSA New Zealand on Facebook ( and Twitter (@educationusanz), and be sure to check out our free resources ( available to help you get started!