The Quintessential College Guide for International Students: Part Two
September 05, 2019
You've identified the U.S. schools you want to apply to, but what's the application process like?
All students need to understand the nuts and bolts of university applications. For students from outside of the U.S., this is a bit more complicated. The U.S. has a more holistic approach to the college application process, as opposed to the test outcome approach that many universities in other countries use.
What this means is that students must include grades and test scores, as well as other aspects of their lives: school clubs or positions, jobs, and perhaps other extracurriculars or responsibilities.
Components of a College Application
Understanding the application forms and choices can be intimidating, but knowing that there may be three application choices will be helpful:
- The Common Application (commonly referred to as the "Common App")
- The universal college application
- The university’s own college application
What you will need as part of an application:
- The Transcript, which may be called the Academic Document: this lists all your courses and grades
- Test Scores: You will need to take college entrance exams and you have options: ACT, SAT and some universities may require the SAT II depending upon requirements. If you are not a native English speaker, you will have to take an English language proficiency test such as a TOEFL or IELTs
- Several application essays
- Letters of Recommendation from teachers and a counsellor
- School Forms or, as it can be called internationally, a School Profile, which describes your school
- Activity List, CV, or Résumé
- Any other supplemental material the school may require: portfolio, writing samples, audition tapes, interview
# What leads to acceptance?
This is a good question. Admissions officers determine if a student is a good fit for the school. This means that not only do the nuts and bolts of your resume, grades, essays, scores, and recommendations have to be aligned, but the interview must have gone well, and the student should appear to the admissions team as a student who will be successful at their university. What leads to successful fit at a university?
The U.S. system often discusses 'fit' which is the nature of the 'holistic' system. There is quite a bit of subjectivity in this system. It is not only about the test scores. In a sense, the test scores and grades are just one piece of the student. It may be the first two piece the admissions team looks at. But they also look at and consider the other pieces listed above.
# Paying attention to detail
- Be sure to fill in all information on the application
- Be aware of all deadlines, particularly for testing registration
- Send in all supporting documents in on time
- Meet all second language competencies
- Demonstrate interest in institutions
# Demonstrating Interest
Even if you are not living in the U.S. or have not had a chance to visit, you should demonstrate interest by emailing or calling the admissions office. Find the international admissions representative and inquire about the university and why the university might be appealing to you.
# Visa Requirements
A note: each university will give detailed and specific instructions on this process. This is meant to be a brief overview to get you started.
- Once accepted to a university, you will need a letter from the university in order to start the visa process.
- The visa requires students to prove financial solvency. You must provide a certificate of finances to show you are able to pay for your education and support yourself.
- You will need to be immunized according to U.S. requirements for various childhood diseases (measles, mumps, rubella, etc.)
- You will need to have various test reports (e.g., the English Language Proficiency exam) — be aware that some schools may require this before the process begins
# Financial Aid
No U.S. financial aid is available, though Merit Aid may be available on a case-by-case basis. Each university must be investigated individually. College Board has financial forms on its website for international applicants. Check each school for their process.
# Best Practices
- You really need to have a desire to own a diploma from an international setting
- Health and safety: understand the country’s laws, culture, as well as the town or city you are residing. Be generously covered by your health insurance.
If you've asked yourself the questions outlined in Part One, you have likely chosen to apply to schools that are good fits for, your academic goals and personality. As long as you can find a way to demonstrate this interest to college admissions counselors, you're to studying in the U.S.