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On Graduate School: Interview with Ama Williams

Ama is an enthusiastic data analyst with an interest in analytics, sales, online advertisement and economic analysis, and also a SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9. She holds a Bachelors in Arts degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Ghana and a Master of Arts in Economics from Central Michigan University in the USA. 

What did you look out for when deciding to apply to graduate school?

Personally, the main thing was funding from a good school. I applied to 4 schools, Columbia University, The City University of New York, Central Michigan University, all in the USA and York University in Canada. I eventually pursued Central Michigan University because that’s where I got accepted with the most funding.

Why did you choose to apply to graduate school outside of Ghana?

I wanted a different experience and liked that the USA and Canada had a variety of good institutions to choose from.

Were your expectations studying in the US met as a foreign student?

I did not really have big expectations outside of the classroom, so I would say my expectations were met. However, I was hoping to make a lot of American friends, which I was unable to. My program had students which were mostly internationals with relatively few Americans and there was hardly enough time to socialize outside of the classroom because of my schedule.

Did you have any challenges adjusting as a foreign student in the USA?

Housing was my biggest challenge, but I managed to settle it out after a month of arriving. Having a lot of Ghanaian students in the university community really helped my adjustment phase.

What will you say was a major difference you witnessed between the Ghanaian and American educational system?

Lecturers in the US are easily accessible and more determined to ensure that student's understand the course material and pass the class. Also, the US seem to have better educational facilities. I liked that the library had private study rooms for students and other top notch services.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing studies in the USA?

Reach out to at least 1 current student in the school you are interested in attending.

What advice would you give to someone preparing for the student visa interview?

Practice mock interviews, watch YouTube videos, attend informational sessions for students at the US embassy in your home country and ARRIVE ON TIME ON THE INTERVIEW DAY!

Finally, will you say the American education has given you the upper hand when it comes to the job search?

Well, I’ll say it depends on your location and where you intend to build your career eventually. I’m currently based in the Netherlands and their educational system is very different. Also, not understanding their language becomes a big barrier when navigating the job search.

Feel free to connect with Ama Williams professionally on Linkedin. If you are an international student and would like to share your graduate school experience with us, please send us an email at


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