Applying to College as an International Student
Are you an international student interested in applying to US colleges? Join Senior Advisor, Kelley Sweeney, as she provides insights on how one can maximize their potential as an international applicant and stand out to admissions officers. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-07-27 – Applying to College as an International Student
Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Applying to College as an International Student. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start up with a presentation, then answer your questions in the live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelist. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today and giving me some of your very valuable time. My name is Kelley A. Sweeney. I am a graduate of Texas A&M University. Um, I was an English teacher for many, many years. I’m also National Board Certified English teacher, as well as well as many other things.
Most importantly, a Senior Advisor here with CollegeAdvisor.com. Yes. And real quick, before we get started, we just wanna ask, what grade are you entering this fall? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year. And if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is going into.
And while we wait for that, uh, Kelley, can you tell us a bit about what can students be doing now to get ahead in the admissions process? Okay, well, I, regardless of what grade you are in everyone, um, things that you can start doing to prepare for the process is really, and this is my, my number one for the year, um, for you, me and everyone is to get organized.
You need to employ some kind of organizational strategy in your life, whether it be a daily planner, a digital calendar, um, reminders on your phone or something as simple as just a calendar on the wall to keep track of things that you need to do for school work and others. So probably my number one piece of advice, especially for this year is, um, start to employ, um, an organizational strategy that works best for you.
Definitely. I have all of the above check check. Yes. And it’s looking like we have a hundred percent 12th grader. Great. Wow. Okay. Very important audience. Hello everyone. And you can control the slides. Yes, ma’am. All right. Well, let’s get going everyone. So hello everyone again. Thank you for joining me. And let’s just jump right in.
So when it comes to applying to us colleges as an international student, um, let’s just start off with, uh, the obvious at face value. What are some challenges that all students will face when applying to college here in the us? Um, of course you need to provide proof that you have shown some kind of impressive coursework and or grades.
You also need to show that you have been involved in some type of extracurricular activity, some kind of community service. Again, showing that you’ve done something other. Just, you know, have your nose in a book, which there’s nothing wrong with that. Although a lot of schools are looking for a little more.
Um, you need to also have, you know, understood the policies here regarding standardized testing. Although some universities still have a test optional policy due to the pandemic. Um, there are some universities that are in fact bringing it back. So in order to know, if your university of choice will need a standardized exam from you, you need to treat every university as though it, it is its own planet with its own rules.
And the best way to know that is to, uh, contact that school. Also, you need to have teacher or counselor recommendations. Just remember relationships are very important. If you need to get some kind of, of a letter recommending you as a student to enter university, these need to be from people that you trust.
You know, again, teachers, counselors, coaches, maybe club sponsors, you know, again, any adult in your life that will have wonderful things to say about you. Um, there are also essay and written response requirements for each university and we will get into that a little more later, but yes, writing is very, very involved.
So if you haven’t already, uh, started practicing your writing strategies, uh, please do. Two nights tomorrow at the latest. Um, and of course, what I opened up with today is effective time management. Again, since you all are seniors, you are working on, um, you know, wrapping up what we call your high school career.
And now you’re moving on to the next step of your life and beyond. So again, effective time management, organizational strategies are an absolute. All right. So more specifically, let’s talk about some specific challenges that especially international students might face when coming to school in the us.
Of course, um, most up front is cultural differences. You know, you will be living in a different place attending university in a whole different country. So of course you will encounter that as well. If you, if English is not your first language, of course, there may or may not be, uh, different forms of language barriers, of course.
So you need to be able to address that and seek out any assistance that you would need there. Of course, academic writing, you know, writing at the academic level. Again, the vocabulary that is used in the vernacular is very different than what you would find in, you know, just basic spoken English. Um, also maybe difficulty understanding lectures again.
If at any point you do see yourself struggling, I would, of course tell you to please seek out assistance where given, um, because that is an issue that you may encounter, uh, financing as well. Um, if you haven’t already looked into, uh, pricing and costs of not only college itself, right? Because tuition, the word tuition.
What that means is that’s what you’re being charged. Just to sit in the class. That’s nothing else. So what else is involved when you’re attending university, will the price of your books, the price of your lab fees of the price of the place you’re gonna live, the bills, the electricity, the gas, the water, um, et cetera, gasoline.
If you’d like to have a car, if you’d like to have money to buy, you know, things like food. Um, so you know, all of these things need to be, uh, tallied up and taken into account and, you know, again, how to work a budget. Um, that becomes very important as of now. And of course, as we all know, when you’re living away from family and friends, you may experience a form of home sickness, but again, um, if it is possible for you, you can always go back, visit family or vice versa.
Um, but again, there are, there are certain services available to univers, um, sorry, excuse me, international students at the university level to try to, um, deal with that as well.
So let’s just jump into the writing part because that’s a part that a lot of students are more interested in. Okay. What exactly is it that I’m going to have to write? So let’s start with the different styles of applications that are used in the us. So for the most part, many us universities, but again, not all of them use what we call the common app, which is short for the common application.
It’s pretty much one application that many universities have signed on to use. And that way students are really only focusing on working on this one application. Um, there’s a list of about seven essay prompts. Students get to choose what essay prompt they’d like to respond to. Um, the other one is called the coalition app, which is not as popular, but still exists.
Again. A group of universities will use the coalition app also there as well. Students can choose the essay prompts that they will choose to respond to now on top of that. Okay. So. To that you will have what we call supplemental essays and these do vary by universities. So there are even some universities that will require multiple essays or perhaps multiple written responses.
Uh, for example, some have a combination of essays and short answer responses. And, you know, you have to complete that, um, in tandem with your essays, for, of either the commoner coalition app or their in-house application, if they’re not part of that system either. Um, as far as what really do these prompts, um, refer to.
It is a style of what we call reflective writing. So most of the prompts revolve around these ideas that deal with your personal experiences, difficulties that you’ve maybe gone through, maybe some goals that you have in the future, but they all really focus on if you have been through things, you know, we’ve all been through something.
Um, how did you grow from it as a person? How did you mature? What did you learn about yourself and about others through these experiences? So it really is just writing about you, your experiences and your memories. So when it comes to, uh, English language exams, are they required? Absolutely. Um, because again, uh, us universities want to make sure that you are prepared to enter university and to succeed.
You know, they don’t wanna see someone struggling. Um, if that’s something that we can handle right at the beginning. So, um, most us universities will require either one of the two, um, English language, proficiency exams. One of ’em is called the TOEFL, which is the test of English as a foreign language. The other one is called the EL’s, um, which is the international English language testing system.
So the only thing about these two exams, well, can I just take one? Um, it really depends on the university. So again, if you haven’t already started creating a list of your schools of interest, you wanna go ahead and start doing that because just like it says there at the bottom different universities will require different exams.
So your best course of action is just to verify what exam you should take depending on what your particular university of interest is looking for. So what key factors now that we’re talking about our college list, what key factors should you consider when applying to a university? And this goes for, for any university anywhere?
Right? So first and foremost, you have to pay attention to program offerings. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a major. That may not be offered at this particular school of interest, then that wouldn’t make much sense for you to attend that place because they don’t even offer a program for what it is you’re interested in.
So again, you know, you have to find schools that have program offerings that match your interest and your courses of study for the future. Um, you should also take into account things like location. Size geography. Um, for example, um, in the us, we have all types of weather. We’ve got deserts, we’ve got places, um, that snow, uh, half of the year, um, we’ve got the tropics, uh, the Texas tropics.
We’ve got Florida, uh, we’ve got the Woodlands, we’ve got mountains. You know, we have many, many different geographical features here. So you’d want to maybe take that into account as well. If you’re looking for something similar to what you’re used to, or maybe the other spectrum, you’re looking for something completely different, you know, so definitely take location into account as well.
Um, distance, what I mean by distance, there is, if you are planning on attending a school and you want to be fairly close to home or fairly close to a place where you can travel home, like fairly close to an international airport, um, that would be something that you would want to consider, you know, if you ever were.
In a situation where you needed to get home quickly, would you be able to do that? Um, some other things to consider again, include campus culture, campus activities, um, a really easy way to see this is you’d want to go to the university website. Um, there are different tabs at every university website, lots of photos of what they do there.
Some traditions, they have some activities they have for students and really look at their list of things for, you know, students to do and see if that’s something that you would be interested in as well. Because again, you’ll be living in this place for, um, at least four years, if not more, maybe a little less.
Um, but you know, are you going to, um, enjoy living life, you know, in this place where you will. Also consider housing. Um, do you want to live on campus? Would you rather have an apartment off campus? What are the cost? What are the cost differences between the two? Um, would you want to, um, maybe try one for the first or second year and then move on to something else?
And again, what are the cost when it comes to housing goes well, and again, all of that will, um, kind of filter into again, financial considerations. So again, making a budget, um, just like most adults. Do you know how much is the rent? How much are the bills? How much do we need for groceries, gasoline, et cetera.
Um, you would definitely want to start making a budget again for your college life. And now there’s our. Yes. And so we just wanna know, where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done.
And while we wait for that, uh, can you tell us about what can parents and guardian do to support their student, um, during the admissions process, especially if they’re looking to go out of the country. Okay. So, so the answer is in the question that word is support. Um, there is nothing, nothing better, um, right now in a student’s life than support and support takes many forms.
Um, it can be something as complicated as, you know, helping a student organize their calendar. When are they gonna write such essay? When is their application deadline for said university, like maybe helping them with their planner, it can be as involved as that, or it can be just as simple as. Asking your son or daughter, you know, how is your day to day?
Is there anything I can do for you? Is there anything I can help you with? And, and really in simple terms, just be there for them. And if you do see, um, your child stressing, you know, in, in stressful situations, just do your best to be there for them. And I guess that is my best answer at this time. Thank you.
And it’s looking like we have 75% are researching schools. 13% are working on their essays and 13% are getting their application materials together. All right. That’s great. Congratulations. Those of you, I’m so happy to see that there was nobody that like answered, um, nothing. Um, so that’s wonderful to see everyone, like you were already getting things done, so that’s beautiful to see you’re on the right track.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Um, so let’s go ahead and move on. All right. So now that we’ve kind of covered, um, our, our basic structures, right? Let’s talk about some things that maybe some students don’t really expect to find. When attending us university, when you come in as an international student.
So what are some things that you may not expect? So, first and foremost is our mix of cultures. Uh, please be aware that when you come here, um, the us is a big place, right? Like as far as, um, land size, we have all different types of cultures here, hundreds, if not thousands of different nationalities within just the one country.
So, um, you will see a mix, um, especially if you choose to go to a large university in a large city, um, you will see that. So maybe that might be something different or new for some people, um, type in selection of food. Um, Again, some places have a great variety of different styles of cooking and some places really don’t.
So, I mean, it’s always great to try something new. Um, but you know, you may start missing again, the flavors of home. Um, so again, maybe bring some of your favorite recipes with you. Um, in case that was something that we would need to tackle. Um, some social norms, you know, and again, this goes for any traveler anywhere, you know, what is accepted in one country may not be accepted in another and vice versa.
So again, some social norms, some things that may be different, um, maybe the way people say hello or, you know, the, the, you know, so again, things that are accepted in some places may not be here or again, vice versa. So, you know, some things to look out for as well, but again, you learn this through time and experience.
It’s nothing that we can really talk about upfront, um, political climate. Um, it depends really what year it is. Is it election year? What’s going on? Um, I’m sure a lot of people know in the us, uh, we take our politics very seriously. Um, so again, sometimes that is something new. Um, for some people that come in and they’re like, what is going on?
Um, but you know, that’s just something, um, that’s part of the culture here as well. Um, and also some confusion. And I know I’m throwing this out there. Based on what you see in movies. Um, a lot of movies that you see, um, again, portray, uh, a certain lifestyle of, you know, the United States, um, American, but you know, when you actually get here and meet some of us, it may be completely different, um, than what it is you’re expecting.
But again, that is the beauty of life, um, and is, and that is experiencing new things. So let’s talk about when you will have your interview with a us university, um, nine times out of 10, if you were an, an international student coming into the us, um, the university will ask to interview you much like what we have here, you know, in a zoom style, a video call.
So what are some things to keep in mind? Right? How can you prepare for an interview with the us university? So again, keep in mind nonverbal aspects, things like punctuality, eye contact, confidence, courtesy, um, here’s a quick example. So again, um, I take this very seriously. Again, I’m trying to help people on their journey called life.
So, you know, I, I enjoy what I do. I’m really serious about the information I’m trying to convey, um, today, but you know, something as simple as this. Oh, so, you know, um, applying to, you know, schools, university, as, you know, as international. Would you be interested? Absolutely not. You would’ve probably logged out of, of this webinar within the first five minutes, if not less.
So again, please keep in mind nonverbal aspects just because you’re not in front of someone doesn’t mean that nonverbal cues don’t matter. Um, some other things to think about, you can anticipate questions regarding things like your academics, your activities, your goals, and your plans for the future.
These are probably some things that you will be asked. So you can go ahead and kind of start formulating those responses as of today. Um, also be prepared to respond to questions about your motivations and for, you know, for wanting to study in the us, like, why do you want to come study here? Why do you not want to study in your home country or maybe some other country?
Um, you know, there’s great universities all over the world. What makes you want to come study here? So you can anticipate that as well. But again, most importantly, Stay calm, be confident. And of course, share your dreams, share your goals, cuz that’s really what we’re looking for. We’re looking for those go getters.
So what types, and this is very important. Okay. So let me slow down and really talk about this. What types of supportive services are available at universities for international students? So again, once you’re already a student here, what kind of supports are here for you specifically so supports before you ever attend the university, before you ever set foot on campus, you will receive a welcome packet.
You will receive a lot of correspondence through mail. So make sure that you do update your, your mailing address. Make sure you are checking the mail regularly. Um, also you’ll be sent information regarding financing housing, and of course the student visa process, which we will also talk about here in just a minute.
Um, and also orientation programs. I highly recommend orientation programs again, but this is just my, my personal point of view. You do not want your first day on campus to be your first day of class. You want to know where you’re going to be living. You want to know what things are like. You want to be able to orientate yourself as to where exactly these classes are happening.
Um, you don’t wanna have, here’s just a quick personal story. I did that. That was a mistake that I made my very first trip to my campus of choice was my first day of school. Um, I was under the impression that I could walk to my next class. This is a very large campus. Um, if I had tried to walk to my next class, it would’ve taken 20 minutes or more, and the class was going to start in five minutes.
So I very quickly learned our bus system, but that was not, um, something that I wish I had done. I wish I had been there before. So definitely take advantage of orientation programs if you have the ability to do so. Um, once you are at university, some supports that you can expect, and again, every university is different, but this is just kind of the norm.
Um, university personnel is dedicated to assisting international students. Most universities have a specific department where international students can come for assistance and support. Usually there are also older international students, upperclassmen that will mentor new international students as well.
And plus those same people, those same organizations usually hold activities or clubs that are organized both by and for international students as well. So are there any financial aid or scholarships available for international students? I know I’ve mentioned finances a few times this, uh, today. So let’s talk about that.
The best plan of action is to contact the university directly. Again, think of each university has its own plan. So the best thing is to contact them directly because each university has its own financial programs and, or their own scholarships available for international students, particularly. But here are just some quick tips, scholarships.
If you’re applying for scholarships, focus on scholarships for all students, not just, oh, you know, one of the requirements is a us citizen or a resident. So, you know, definitely focus on scholarships again for all students. Um, of course use the magic of the internet, just like you’re doing right now. Um, there are many websites that focus on information for international students in regards to financial assistance, scholarships, and, and even work study programs.
And of course, read blogs by other international students for tips and guidance. Like what is life really going to be like for you? So definitely take advantage of that. Um, let’s talk briefly about the student visa process. It is a process. There are multiple. Applying for a student visa is a process.
Again, that involves things like one through six, in order to apply for student visa, you have to be accepted into university first. So you have to be accepted to university in the us before applying for the student visa, you have to complete introductory forms. Again, these would be available through the university.
You would have to pay processing fees for all of this as well. You would have to complete the application for the student visa and identify your nearest us embassy or consulate. Because at that point you will have to schedule and attend an interview for a student visa at that us embassy or consulate.
And then at the very end, you would have to pay what we call final fees for delivery of a student visa. But again, that varies by country. How can you ensure that you have an excellent application? So again, what a lot of you are probably already doing. Start identifying universities of interest as soon as possible identify application requirements for universities of interest, again, as soon as possible, um, complete any required essays or writing supplements.
Again, these are not anything that should be done at the last minute. Um, most universities, again, for all students who would like to attend both here and wherever you are, they expect students to take time on these essays. These should be well written. They should be polished. They should be edited multiple times again, not to be done at the last minute.
Um, you should also, again, identify required English language exams that may be required by your universities of interest, and again, pay attention to which exam, uh, they require. And, you know, very simply because these will be required as part of your application process as well later, make a list of any honors or awards that are special to you.
You will include in your application. So things like this include extracurricular activities, community service, volunteer, service, entrepreneurship, leadership, and of course prepare for your interview, both with the university. And now that you know about the student visa with the interview, with your embassy or consulate as.
What other tips can I offer after all of this? And I know it’s a lot of information and again, I thank you for sticking with us today, but what, uh, what other tips can I offer for international students when completing the us application process, again, research application requirements, as soon as possible, you know, do not wait until the last minute.
You do not want to know your application is due three days before you learn that. So again, please, um, take into account application deadlines and what writing supplements are required. Again, be conscious of time management organization is key as of today. If you do not already, please start employing an organizational strategy.
I cannot stress that enough. Um, again, you want to write your required essays or your supplements, make sure to revise them at least three times one, two. Prepared to take again, required English language exams, create your financial plan, your budget, tuition, housing, food books, et cetera, apply for your student visa.
Again, immediately after you are accepted to a US university, do not wait. Um, because again, uh, the us, uh, visa process, uh, does take time as I’m sure most people know, um, prepare for your interview. And again, continue your focus on academics, grades, writing skills, activities, and especially leadership opportunities.
Again, you guys are seniors, right? Like you’re wrapping up your, your high school career, but again, it does not stop now, you know, you have to continue doing it. It what it is that you’ve been doing. So again, I know that was a lot of information. I, I hope I covered some really important points that were of use to you.
And now we’re going to open it up for you guys to talk a little bit more to me. Yes. So that is the end of the presentation portion of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, and this webinar is being recorded.
If you would like to view it again, later on our website at collegeadvisor.com slash webinars, moving on to the live Q&A I’ll read your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that, that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the website.
Um, just because you won’t get all the features of big markets. So just make sure you join through that custom link now onto the Q&A. So our first question is when and where do you take the, um, TOFEL and, and, or the IEL. Okay, so you can do this one of two ways. You can contact a university of interest and get that information from them.
Perhaps they’d be willing to offer you a list of available locations. If not then your current school, maybe your school administration or your school counselor can give you a list of locations where that test is being given. And when it’s not something that you can take every day, it’s usually a scheduled date when they are giving these exams when they’re available.
So again, um, usually school administration can lead you to that correct information. Mm-hmm, , uh, kind of going off of that. Can students submit Duolingo scores, um, to schools, um, to build this English language require. You can submit your Duolingo scores as part of your application. But again, that does not cover the English, uh, testing requirement.
Again, that’s why I, I keep stressing how it’s very important to contact each university directly to make sure, um, you know, what exactly it is that they require. And it’s usually one of the exams mm-hmm , uh, going on to the next question, does an AP English language and composition exam count as an English proficiency test or do I still have to take the toe full and the other one and, or the other one?
Yes. Um, you still have to take the test. Um, so again, you aren’t advanced placement. Congratulations. That’s gonna look fantastic on your application that will also help you with college level English classes. But again, that does not take place of what we call the English proficiency exam. Those are separate.
Mm-hmm going off of that. Will I be in a, at a disadvantage if AP or IB courses aren’t offered at my school? Absolutely not. So again, I’m, I’m talking to you now as an advisor, right? You have to understand when, when admissions officers are looking at a student’s application, they’re looking at each student individually, they’re looking at each student, what we call holistically.
They’re looking at the entire package. So if you do not have that available to you, then you want to seek out other ways that you can stand out in your application. And again, think of, think of activities, leadership opportunities, um, and things like that. So, again, you’re not, you’re not per se at a disadvantage, but you would just want to find other ways again, to stand out when it comes time to submit your application.
Uh, for a more, um, general admissions process question, uh, how many schools should an international student apply to? Ideally. Okay. Ideally. Okay. So let’s talk about finances, right? Because like, as you’re getting ready for college, like money is part of the conversation. So, um, please be aware everyone that whenever there’s very few, that don’t require this, when you submit an application to a us university, there’s usually what we call the application fee.
I’ve seen them as, you know, simple as 10 to 15 us dollars. I’ve seen them go all the way up to 75, a hundred US dollars per application per school. So again, you have to keep in mind again financially. How many places do you want to apply to? Because again, you don’t wanna be applying to places that you’re not really interested in.
Um, I, I guess, uh, if you wanna talk about a round number, um, it would be around 10. Um, not much more than that. No more than maybe 15. Um, I haven’t met many people that have applied to that many either. So again, um, you would definitely want to start creating your list and start narrowing it down. And again, you have to cross reference the things that I mentioned.
Like, do they offer programs for what you’re interested in? Do you like the location? Have you, have you tried to check out the local culture and student traditions? Like once you take all those things into account, it will be much easier for you to narrow down your list. Mm-hmm , uh, going on to next question, a student is asking, uh, do you have any helpful tips for finding a good personal statement topic?
So the personal statement, like I said, when it comes to things like the common app, the coalition app, or even a lot of what we call the in-house applications, most of the prompts, most of the topics revolve around this idea of personal growth. So usually, um, it talks about either an accomplishment or a hard.
That maybe you went through in your life and again, how you have grown what you have learned and, and what you have achieved since then. So again, it really revolves around this idea of personal growth and, you know, an event or something that happened in your life that kind of sparked that, that period of, of growth and maturity.
So, um, they usually all revolve around that idea. So that way, if you do come across a prompt that you may have to answer, that’s a little bit different. They usually revolve around that same idea. So I hope that’s helpful. Mm-hmm and we do have other webinars that go into more detail on the personal statement, as well as supplements, um, where you can find out, um, brainstorming different topics, how to edit them.
Um, what other topics do we have? Uh, what admissions officers are looking for so many, there are a lot of oh, webinars and there are more to come, especially with the application opening on August 1st. So do check those out on our website, uh, going on to the next question. Um, do all the essays have to be written in English, such as like the personal statements, supplements and everything else.
Yes. That is my short answer. Yes, yes they do. Um, because again, when you come to the us, you will be learning in English. So they want, you know, the, the personal statements, the essays are, are used for multiple purposes. One of course is to learn about you, but it’s also to ensure that you comprehend and that you have a grasp of English at the level, um, at the college level to ensure that you will not struggle.
So, um, the short answer there is yes, going off of that, will universities be lenient if our essays have gram? Wow. I can’t say that grammatical areas. Um, if our first language is not English, I, I, I, I can’t read minds. Right. And you have to understand that, you know, when you send off your application, it is read by an admissions officer, you know, someone like me.
So, um, I can’t read their mind, but you would want to maybe play that on the safe side. And you would want to ensure that your writing again is as close to impeccable as it can be. Um, and again, that’s why I cannot recommend us like services like ours, like CollegeAdvisor, where you work with an advisor, we have a dedicated essay team, um, to ensure that your essays are spot on and I’m ready for a final application.
Yes. And I know with working with, um, one of my students who is from Brazil, um, working on her essays was probably the most interesting part of the process. Um, because she’s a great writer. She has a very strong understanding of English, but even still, when reading some of her essays, there were a few phrases or terms that.
And, um, Portuguese would make sense, but then when translated into English or when just thinking about how people in America speak, um, it really didn’t make sense. So what I, um, went on ahead and did, was go through her essays, edit them and add in notes about, um, why certain phrases would be said differently in English and explaining to her the different norms and rules of English.
Cuz it can be a bit tricky. Yeah. Um, so it happens more often than you think it happens even with native English speakers. Yes. Um, so like I said, I cannot, um, I cannot stress the importance of a good writing. Um, and again, a grasp of the English language. And like I said, that’s why, uh, services like ours exist is to make sure that you guys are ready, um, to, you know, hand in your application and feel confident about it in the end.
Yes. And for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know that the admissions process can be overwhelming for parents and students alike. Especially with this essay process, our team of over 300 former admissions officers, such as Kelley and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle.
Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times the national rate and into Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate, if those are schools of interest, um, sign up for a free consultation with us by registering for our free web platform at app.CollegeAdvisor.com. I listed this link in the public chat, if you would like to get those and as well as other links and information, um, their students and their families can explore webinar.
To keep track of application deadlines, research schools, and more all right on our website. And just having that advisor to really walk you through the process and through, um, essay editing, and even just to talk about, um, social norms, what it’s like being in the us and different areas can be very helpful.
I know I really like talking about living in New York versus living in Georgia and the different differences. Um, so definitely, um, do sign up for a CollegeAdvisor, if that is something that you would be interested in now back to the Q&A, uh, okay. So another student is asking, um, how long, um, does it take to do the student visa process?
And when should we start that? Okay, so let let’s answer the second part of the question. once you’ve been accepted to university, that’s when you’re going to want to start the visa process. Um, again, as soon as you know that you’ve been accepted, you want to go ahead and start that student visa process, um, as far as how long does it take, um, it’s different for everyone, the pandemic made that, um, even worse.
Um, I know that the visa process used to be, um, pretty, not, not fast, but the process itself was not as, quite as lengthy as it is now. So I can’t really give you a round number of how long it will take. Um, but again, the, the student visa process, you know, between the time that you apply, most agents are aware that, of course it will be for the upcoming school year.
So of course they try to expedite that, um, as much as is humanly possible, But again, it, it is taking longer than it used to. Again, the pandemic has kind of exacerbated that, unfortunately mm-hmm, , uh, now we’ll go into some financial aid technical questions and then we’ll get back to, um, application parts.
Uh, so going on to the next question, can international students fill out the FAFSA? Um, no, actually the FAFSA is specifically for, uh, us residents, uh, us citizens, but, um, you can fill out a CSS profile, um, which is a little bit different. Um, but again, that is available to you, not the FAFSA, but the C CSS or CCS.
Um, I’m not sure if I’m saying that right, but yes. Uh, there are some things that are available to you, but it just not, not particularly the FAFSA. Yes. That’s why I mentioned things like scholarships and things like that. Work study programs, you know, things that are available to you all. Yes. And the CSS profile is run by the college board.
So you’ll see them when you’re taking the SAT. Um, they, it is just a long form to figure out your, you and your family’s financial situation, um, what you own, what you, um, do for a living. And it just gives the colleges an idea of where you’re at and how much you can afford. It’s used by 300, about 300 private schools in the us.
Um, so not every school you apply to will use it. Um, but they do allow international students to fill that out so that they can calculate your financial aid. Whereas FAFSA is a federal program, so it’s just for domestic students. And I believe that students should be able to use that. I think so. But if you, if you do come across that and it is time to fill out those, those, those forms, please take them seriously.
Again, it may seem like, you know, someone’s trying to pry into your personal life. Um, but again, um, you may feel that way, but that’s not the case. Again. Um, colleges are using that information to see what scholarships and what types of financial aid you may be eligible for at their institution. Yes. Going on to the next question, do extracurriculars on the common app need to be full-time extracurriculars, or can it be programs or events you have participated in like those one off events or week events that, um, students tend to do?
No, no, they can be anything, although, please be aware, um, on the common app. Okay. Here’s an example on the common app, you only have space to list 10 activities. So let’s say you’ve been in like 50 or more. Right. And they’re really only interested in the last four years. So, you know, don’t do anything that you did, like when you were, when you were really young.
Um, but again, on the common app, you only have space for 10. So when you’re listing your activities, you don’t want to list them chronologically. You wanna list them by, by order of importance. So, you know, your most important activities should come first and then, you know, you kind of move down through there, but again, activities can be anything.
They can be things you did with your community. They can be things that you did with your neighborhood, things that you did in school, things that you did, um, maybe with church or, you know, religious, um, type of activities. But, but yes, you know, activities and extracurriculars are open. These also include things like sports and also, um, academic, academic competitions and things like that, music.
Um, you know, so it’s, it’s very, very broad, you know, so again, it can be, um, essentially anything. Um, that’s not specifically you sitting in. Mm-hmm and we do have, again, other webinars on extracurricular activities and how to fill out that section of the common app. So you can figure out how to use that space to the best of your ability.
And just as a side note, the coalition is also different in this aspect, you can only submit up to eight activities on it. So personally, I just feel the common app is the better option, cuz you can add a bit more and it’s like easy. It’s a bit more user friendly in my opinion. Right. Um, also, um, from what I was able to find, the CSS profile is only available in English and Spanish.
So if, um, you need, uh, in an it in another language, um, I’m not sure there are other avenues for that unless your computer can sort of change the font on its own. But, um, CSS profile is only in English and Spanish. And then the common app I believe is just in English, but they may have like tech support where you can find it in Spanish from what I was able to find.
uh, going on to the next question, where can you find an authentic perspective of the school? I tend to find that most schools want to display themselves in a similar light on their websites, making it difficult to feel the vibe of the school and whether it will be a match. Okay. So that is true, right?
Because just like anyone, of course, the university wants to put their best foot forward. Um, that’s why I mentioned earlier, like, see if you can, maybe there’s a specific, usually a tab within each university website that has to do with student activities and, you know, a picture is worth a, a thousand words.
So I’m not really talking about like the homepage photo or, you know, a lot of the, you know, the. The lights and glitter. I’m talking about photos of real students at the institution. Um, even though they are within the university site, but like within the student activities section or, you know, even within the sports section, um, you might even want to look into Facebook pages, um, that a lot of, uh, universities may have, you know, most universities have their official, uh, Facebook page and social media page, Instagram, et cetera.
So you might wanna look at those as well because a lot of those photos are what we see in daily life. So again, a, a univer, an official university website, you know, of course, is very pretty and, you know, very, very meticulously made versus social media. If you follow their social media pages, you will get a better view into the day to day life at the institution.
mm-hmm and then also following student run pages can be good. So you can get an idea of what other students are like, what the humor is usually through the mean pages you can find out the most about what’s going on campus. And then, um, also there are usually clubs and organizations for, um, ran by international students.
So you can, um, most likely they’ll pretty open to like being direct messaged, um, through those accounts. So you can find out some more information about the school and their perspective by reaching out that way. Right. Which would probably be more helpful even going on to the next question. Are you viewed as an international student by admissions officers?
If you’re a US citizen, but have been living in another country? Yeah. Yes and no. It’s kind of like a blended point of view because like, yes, you are a US citizen, although you have been living life elsewhere. So. Specifically, you are still, you know, applying as a US citizen, but you have been living internationally.
Um, but again, think of it this way. US universities are looking for good people. They don’t really care where you’re from. They are looking for good people with vision, with dreams, with goals. So again, don’t be too concerned about like, oh, you know, they’re gonna look at me in a different way because I’m I’m elsewhere.
That is not the case. We are looking for great people from everywhere. So again, don’t let that, don’t let that keep you up at night. Mm-hmm uh, going on to next question. Are there programs for international students to come to the us to tour or visit schools, especially with all those travel costs associated with.
Um, again, you have to, again, it goes back to your list, right? Like where are you interested in coming? Um, you would want to again, contact your university of interest directly and ask them that same question. Do you all have anything where I can come and visit? Um, I’ll admit, do the pandemic. And even before that, it had started a little before that we have, you know, virtual tours and, and way that you can do things virtually.
Um, you can go again if travel is not an option for you, but again, sometimes a school will, will have a certain program for, for visiting. So again, my best advice is to contact these schools, um, again, international student department directly and ask them if that school has any programs that, that deal.
Yes. And I think these are starting to probably come back, maybe not as much, but fly in programs where schools fly in students. Um, most are probably for domestic students just because of the flying in part and because costs are usually covered by the school, but you can look into those programs to see if there are any options available for you to be able to come here to the us and, um, live on the campus and do the programming that they have offered.
Right. And just see what it’s really like, which goes back to what we were talking about earlier. Yes. Going on to the next question, how can international students get the most out of those virtual tours or information session? Ask questions. Um, just like you guys are doing today, right? Like everybody’s got lots of questions and you wanna know this is wonderful.
So like the same way that this has been going today, that’s exactly how you would want again, to take advantage of that virtual tour, because you have to imagine that you are there. So if you were there, what kinds of questions would you be asking? Is there anything specific that you would like to know?
So again, you would want to, um, come prepared to that virtual tour because of course there will be just like today time for you to ask those very important questions. Um, so definitely come ready again with those questions that are particular to you and only you mm-hmm going on to the next question.
Ideally, when should students start writing their essays and begin the application process? Write an essay yesterday. Um, I’m sorry. I’m joking. Haha. Throwing little, um, Writing is a delicate process. Um, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had students say like, oh, I can write that essay. And, uh, that that’ll be easy.
Um, and then they actually sit down to write it and it, and it, it is not so,
oh again, when it comes time to you have, um, you have to be in a calm, collected space. Um, if you live in a very busy home, as I did when I was younger and, you know, there’s, uh, kids running around screaming and playing, which is a happy sound, but not when you’re trying to write. So, you know, you have to be able to find time and space to get these things done.
And don’t think that you’re gonna sit down and write the whole thing in, in one, in one piece, you know, a lot of times really great writing comes to you in pieces. It’s almost like putting together a puzzle. Um, as far as filling out your applications, of course, most applications open up here in a couple of days.
So you can start, uh, filling out your applications. And again, just be very mindful of deadlines. Each university has its own application deadline. So again, that’s what I keep, uh, going back to about know your college list, know the universities you’re interested in and make sure that you are familiar with the deadlines on that note of deadlines.
Usually a school will say like, oh, it’s due January 1st, 11:59. That is usually on the time that the school itself is in. So if the school is in like New York, it’ll be on Eastern standard time. And so at 11:59 Eastern standard time, that application is due. So we got what we have, like five or six different time zones just in the us, right.
Like to split it in pieces. Um, so yes, be mindful of that, but like, you should not be submitting your application at 11:59 on the deadline day don’t ever do. What, if you have a technical issue, what if your internet goes down? Um, what if your computer runs out of battery? There, there is a slew of technical issues that could occur.
So again, other than employee and organizational strategies starting today, um, my best advice is don’t ever, ever, ever wait till the last minute, just in case mm-hmm . And so make sure that, you know, which time, um, time zone it’s in so that you are on you are staying on top of that on time. Cause it may be different in yours.
Um, and then going onto the next question, um, how, where did it go? Uh, how strong are the supports for international students at us schools? And how can you tell how good they. So, like we mentioned earlier, right? Like a lot of schools have their activities list and again, a lot of the international student clubs and activities would be listed there.
So again, do they even exist, um, at this school that you’re interested in? Um, again, calling universities directly asking to speak with the international students department, um, and again, talking to those representatives and asking them things that you’d really like to know, like what kind of clubs do we have available?
Do we have activities? Um, you’d be surprised. Um, just how many are available, but again, not all universities are the same again, think of them as their own little planets. Um, and again, the only way to really know is to contact them directly and ask again, those very, very important, very meaningful. One thing that I noticed when, um, helping my student with the, um, researching schools and especially with like the, um, different resources that they have, I would look at the, um, what is it, the toe full, um, scores that were required or the English requirements and the schools that hire a higher score requirement that you needed usually had the least amount of supports for students on campus, or they had, um, less international students on campus, but the schools with lower scores had more.
So like Cornell University had like, I believe a one 30 score, um, that was required and Cornell has a lot of international students. There’s a, like, I think we’re at like 30% international students that could be lower, um, or higher rather, um, And then there are a lot of different departments. There are student exchange programs.
There are programs where peers can help other students that are English learners, um, to learn English and they help them learn. There are, um, uh, native tongue. And so the schools that have more resources tend to have lower scores while schools with higher, um, score requirements for those exams usually wants you to be very proficient in English because they have more support.
Right. That’s a very valid point. Thank you for sharing. Yes. Uh, going on to the next question, are admissions officers informed of courses offered at each individual school or should international students explain in the additional information section about the course offerings at their school?
Um, please be aware. There are, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of different schools, uh, across the planet. Um, so, you know, you cannot ensure that one admissions officer knows about all of them. Um, so, you know, if you have a course that, you know, you see is maybe perhaps really different, then what it is that, you know, we would be familiar with here in the us, then you would definitely want to, again, use that space available to you to kind of give us a little bit better insight.
Absolutely. Mm-hmm and then your school counselor and their school report should be, um, providing information about your school and what courses and other amenities were offered at your school so that they can get an idea of the context of where you studied for the past four years. So they’ll have an idea if you had, if you had AP or IB, um, what clubs were offered, how many students are there?
Average GPA students it’ll just give a full school report, um, so that they can have a bit more context. Uh, going on to the next question and we are coming to a close, so we’ll kind of combine these, um, how welcoming are us schools to international students and how can you find out more, um, about like on campus diversity and campus culture.
Okay. So how, how friendly are we to international students? You do, you do please understand the United, the United States was built by immigrants, right? So like everybody here, um, came in some way. Um, I, I married an international student. There’s just something personal about myself. Um, you know, we, it, it depends really on people at, at a very human level, you know?
So again, everyone is human. And, and what we’re looking for here is, you know, people that are, again, dreamers, visionaries, we’re looking for people that are looking to change the world for the better. So, you know, please do not feel that, you know, oh, just because I’m from someplace else, I’m not welcome. Um, just kind of put that into your mind, like in the us, most, everybody, even if it was a few generations ago, mostly everyone was from somewhere else once.
So, you know, please do not feel like that is something that you would have to worry about. Um, and again, if you, if you want to really see about what, um, life is like at your particular university of interest, then again, um, please go ahead and do those things that we talked about, um, throughout, um, our webinars today, uh, going on to next question, how diverse are the universities in the.
It depends where you go, actually. Um, if you’re going to like a larger university or you’re going to university, um, around the larger cities, the urban areas, um, you will find more diversity there. And again, that’s just because of the size of the university itself. Like they have space for so much more people I’ll admit maybe like the smaller, what we call the private universities.
Um, you know, they may not be as diverse, but the reason there is because they are a little smaller and a little less known. Um, so again, in, in your well known schools, um, larger schools, what we call the urban schools, um, you will see more diversity, um, just because of the nature of the location and the size of it as.
and private schools in New York city like NYU and Columbia are you? Those are the most di some of the most diverse schools. And then New York city is the most diverse city in the country. Um, but don’t confuse it with New York state because they are on two different ends of the spectrum in terms of diversity and things to do.
It’s a completely different life. Um, so kind of going off of that, how can international students get a good idea about what different parts of the us are like. So like, you can watch some movies. Right. But like, you’ll notice it like, oh, this is supposed to be a desert in, in Italy and it’s not, it was filmed in Nevada.
So, um, I guess like my best advice is to think of it this way. Right? Like you have to think of things geographically. Um, so, and of course, like the internet is again in pictures worth a thousand words. Right? So look up pictures of California, look up pictures of Florida, New York, look up pictures of the Midwest.
Um, look up pictures of the Southwest. I’m from Texas. Um, we’ve got like five different states within the one just based on geography. You’ve got the beach people, you’ve got the forest people. You’ve got the desert people. Um, you’ve got the city people all in one state. Um, so like I said, you, you can’t really know until, you know, right.
So I guess again, Again, the beauty of the internet, um, pictures, movies, videos, things that you can see based on again, look at the university, where’s it located? Um, and you know, uh, what is it, Google earth. And you can like satellite that stuff so you can really see things up close. Yes. And then also looking up on YouTube, like day in the life, living in New York city or living in Cali or living in Montana, uh, every part of the us is pretty different.
Again, I’d preference memes because they’re pretty spot on. Um, they said that I can’t believe. Florida is just Disney World. New York city is where all the fun stuff is at in California is where famous people go. Um, that’s a very broad thing, but it’s kind of pretty true. kinda, it’s, it’s a little mixed up.
Sandra Bullock owns most of Austin and actor Matthew McConaughy run that city, but like I said, you know, there’s really no way to know unless you do your research, right. Just like anything else. Um, but you know, again, uh, the best way for you guys to know is again, use the beauty, um, of the internet. Um, just like you’re doing right now.
So like I said, there, there’s a lot of information out there. You just gotta go get it. Yes. And for our final question, and then you can just close out with any final advice. How affordable is it for international students to attend school in the us, like for paying for college cost of living travel fees.
Okay. So let’s, let’s talk about the basics. If you live anywhere, if you live anywhere. It’s your rent, your bills, your food. How are you gonna get around? So let’s talk about transportation. Are you gonna use public transportation? Do you want your personal vehicle and like the price of gasoline, right? Um, so like, and, and again, I didn’t even mention your tuition cost.
So again, that’s why it’s so important to contact these universities and ask them what scholarship programs, what financial aid programs are available to me as a university, um, international student. So that way, at least you get some assistance there when it comes to the cost of your school. Um, now when it comes to the other things, like I said, um, everyone’s different, you know, just because you’re international student or a us citizen, like everyone does it a different way.
Some people, um, you know, get their financial aid, but they still have to do like a work study program or they have to get like part-time employment, um, you know, or things like that. But again, that is not, that is not just for international students. There’s a lot of, I mean, I, I went to school full time and I worked part-time and you know, I, um, college is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it is absolutely worth.
And I think that is probably my best advice, um, to leave you with today. Um, again, it, it is difficult and it takes a lot of planning and it takes a lot of, um, it takes a lot, a lot of dedication, but it will, it will make all the difference in the world if you do it. Yes. So that is the end of the webinar.
We hope you found this information helpful and thank you to our wonderful panelist Kelley for all this great information out about applying as a, uh, international student. Here’s the rest of our July. Oh, well, today is the last day of our July series, but our August series will, um, have a lot more webinars on other parts of the application process working on essays.
Um, we’ll have more college tours and then, um, Would also, um, if you’re still researching schools, definitely check out our college panel so you can get a good idea of what these schools are. Like. We also have virtual tours, um, to find out more about, um, more about these different schools. And then, um, there was a question in the chat.
Does CollegeAdvisor have any resources for international students? We do have advisors, um, that were international students and there are, um, our scholarship and, um, resource. Um, what’s the thing called database. Uh, we have our blog where you can find out, um, more information about the application process and applying as an international student, if you just go to CollegeAdvisor.com/blog, uh, and type in those keywords and then also our other webinars.
Um, but definitely do. Sign up for that free consultation so that you can work with our match team and our sales team, and find out more information about what resources we have for international students. But thank you everyone for coming out. Yes. Yes we do. yes, we do. Yes, we do come work with us. Yes.
Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight. Thank you. Goodnight.