Universities in the U.S. welcome international students with pride and the knowledge that they will make each campus more compelling, interesting and vibrant. If you are an international student, you should know that your classroom participation will inform the perspectives of American students in essential ways—lending important and divergent voices to global issues.
The Application Process:
The process of applying to American colleges can require a great deal of patience and organization, because it takes time to plan for and finalize immigration documents with your American embassy. The only way to be successful in the application process is to plan way ahead. Speak with your school guidance counselor and contact College Admission Central to work with experts in the field of International applications.
You also may not know how to discuss the all-important extracurricular sections of the Common Application. Students from countries like China, for example, have a difficult time with the activity section as well as with the concept of writing a personal statement. Of course, seek guidance from admission experts to help unpack the process of both application elements—but also know that holding down any sort of job is as important as having two or three clubs on your list; as is volunteering throughout high school (to demonstrate a thread of service). Equally well regarded is the intensive study of an instrument. Regarding the Personal Statement: Talk about cultural differences in the essay to convey that one compelling moment of conflict, vulnerability, or discovery. A different cultural perspective can work in your favor. Admission officers are looking for a strong multicultural presence in the classroom. Such diversity makes everyone’s education richer. Of course, you will also want to clearly explain why studying at an American university would be meaningful to you—philosophically and/or professionally. Lastly, it is important to understand that every college or university in the U.S. has its own set of academic and leadership standards—each often looking for students with different qualities. Just another reason to do in depth research during your junior year before deciding on schools you have only heard by name. It’s so important to remember that the top schools are not cookie cutter shapes on a pan to be selected on an “eeeny-meenie-miney-moe” basis.
Additionally, it’s important to understand the role your SAT scores will play in admission decisions. The standardized exams are the great equalizers for international students, because it is difficult to judge the differences in international students’ transcripts. SATs help admission officers judge academic proficiency. An important addition to the student’s application is the TOEFL score, as this can help admissions determine whether you will be able to participate in challenging class discussions.
Lastly, understand the difficult admittance odds an international student faces. There is usually a 10-12% international component to U.S. college classes. On top of this, internationals are competing for U.S. spots against students from other countries as well as from their own. The best advice, then, is to learn about the excellent schools that are located outside the Northeast or California. Your chances for admittance are far higher in schools that tend to receive fewer applicants. Know also that recruitment has swelled among U.S. colleges that need more full-paying students. If you are in that category, your chances are greatly improved.
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