Issues for International Students
News for International Students Seeking College Admissions and How to Make the Best of them…
As we enter the fall, many students prepare to begin the application process to enter colleges and universities in USA. If you’re a international student, this is a good time to consider applying to enter a college or university, in pursuit of an undergraduate degree. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, this is especially true as less students from countries like India and South Korea are applying, which means much less competition for you. The blog reports that the only exception is doctoral institutions which saw a 4% increase in international applications. For example, Virginia Tech saw an 8% increase in applications from South Korea.
However, getting accepted to college and receiving scholarships/financial aid is all about preparation and strategy. Whilst application numbers may crumble, this might not have a good effect in our specific case if other important pieces of information are not taken under consideration. Here are some things to consider as an international student seeking admission to a university in USA, to support your case:
1. Take Challenging Courses in High School or through any study program you undertake before becoming an applicant. Taking calculus, a rigorous curriculum, honors courses at any stage of your live can give you the extra edge you need. Colleges and graduate programs love candidates that are prepared for the challenges of higher education by experiencing tough courses before engaging in a new path. This preparation will not only come handy when schools consider you as a candidate, but you will learn concepts that will be invaluable for your career, while pushing yourself and demanding the best of yourself. Don’t set yourself short.
2. Size Matters: Did you know that some of the most competitive colleges haven’t increased their number of students in years? If the college isn’t building more dorms, hiring more teachers and increasing their course offering, your chances of getting accepted to that school decreases. Think of alternative schools that offer higher percentage of applicants admitted, that are in continuing growth and welcome students, while providing an outstanding education. There are many options out there, and very few that most applicants are familiar with. Research pays off.
3. SAT or ACT – GMAT or GRE? Take both and submit the best score: Why gamble with one test when you can increase your odds with two? Since the SAT and the ACT are equally accepted for college admissions, you have nothing to lose by taking both. A similar situation is beginning to happen with the GMAT and the GRE, as more institutions are allowing the GRE to take the place of the GMAT.
4. Request special accommodation for testing: If having extra time allows you to check your test more thoroughly and increase your chances of getting a better score, why not do it? Special accommodations are no longer disclosed to colleges, which means you application wont’ be discriminated against other applications on that basis.
5. Asking for money: While schools have money in the form of scholarships and financial aid for international students it’s not easy to get. Unlike students which are U.S. residents, you are expected to have better grades and test scores in order to get free money towards a degree. One strategy to increase your chances of receiving money for college is to apply to institutions that don’t have a lot of international students, they will be more desperate to increase their diversity and thus more likely to reward you for it.
6. Geography Matters: New York, New York is not the same as Ithaca, NY. One school may leave you steps from Time Square while another school might represent a 4-hour drive to Manhattan. You should also explore other characteristics such as the weather, the location of the school (big city, small town, country), whether you’ll need a car to get around, etc. America’s 50 states offer almost endless possibilities, don’t be afraid to do your research.
7. Brand Name does not Equal Fit: International students have a tendency to apply to famous colleges they’ve heard about before. Almost everyone in the world knows Harvard, Columbia and Yale, but there are more than 4,000 accredited higher education institutions in the U.S., many of them offering outstanding academic opportunities. Many are also welcoming of international students and their diversity, others go to the extent of offering financial aid to support having this diversity on campus. Seek new names for you, like Eckerd College, Vanderbilt University, Reed College, places of great prestige and the very highest academic standard, where you could also thrive as a student. Find some of the schools available online at collegeboard.com.
8. Degree does not equal green card: If your dream is to become an American citizen someday, you’ll have to consider not only what you study but where. Some universities lack credentials and some majors don’t translate to jobs. You also have to prepare yourself for the possibility that you might have to return to your home country, with that in mind is wise to study something that helps you get a job in your home country as well as America.
9. Sell with your Essay: Although international students might not have to write essays for college or grad school admissions, in USA, essay writing is an important part of the puzzle. Just like an advertisement in the newspaper, your college essay should sell you to the application committees. Rather than focusing on things any American could write, develop essays based on what makes you unique and what background you come from. If you lack command with English, have someone edit your essay to avoid the embarrassment of a spelling mistake or grammatical error. Remember that American application committees are impressed with international students that write well or better than native-born Americans.
We hope these tips you will help you increase your chances of making a great impression and getting accepted to the college of your choice. With perseverance, hard work, research and a great attitude, we can achieve the dream of gaining acceptance and scholarship money as an international student in USA. Good luck!
By Claudine Vainrub