Applying to U.S. Colleges as an International Student

Are you an international student considering applying to colleges in the United States? Do you feel overwhelmed by the application process and unsure of where to start? Join us for a webinar hosted by, featuring Aaron Brown, a former Admissions Officer with 10+years of experience.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • The unique challenges and opportunities that international students face when applying to U.S. colleges
  • The different types of colleges and universities in the United States and which may be the best fit for you
  • The application components that are most important for international students, including standardized tests, essays, and letters of recommendation
  • How to navigate the financial aid and scholarship process as an international student
  • Tips for crafting a standout application that showcases your strengths and unique experiences

Whether you are just starting to explore your options or are in the midst of the application process, this webinar will provide you with valuable insights and strategies to help you succeed. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from an expert in the field and get your questions answered!

Date 04/23/2023
Duration 54:31

Webinar Transcription

2023-04-23 – Applying to U.S. Colleges as an International Student

Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisors Webinar, “Applying to US Colleges as an International Student.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’re first gonna begin with a presentation and then we will have a live question and answer session. So now let’s go ahead and meet our panelists. Hi.

Good. Morning, evening, afternoon, wherever you are around the world joining us. My name is Aaron Brown. I’m one of the admission officers here with CollegeAdvisor. Also have quite a bit of experience in the admission space in the US. So I was first in the admission office at USC, university of Southern California, which was my alma mater where I eventually was running the application evaluation process, and then went and.

Decided to try the, the public sphere. And worked at the University of California system in San Diego where was also running the application evaluation process there for first year and transfer applicants. And then decided I wanted to work a bit more closely with students, so I switched to the high school side of the desk.

And so my day job when I’m not working for CollegeAdvisor, of course, is working as a high school guidance counselor, helping students like you navigate this process and actually currently am working engine. International context. I’m at a school in Toronto and Canada, so helping students navigate it just like you will be.

Awesome. Thank you Aaron, so much for sharing about your background. You definitely have a well-rounded experience with overseeing application admission process to now supporting students applying to college. So that’s really great to hear. So we’re now gonna move over to our poll. So we wanna get a sense of what grade you are in.

So I have already launched the poll, and we look forward to seeing the responses that are coming in. Let’s see. Okay, so at the moment we have an even split between 11th and 12th grade students. So we have, you know, 50 and 50%. So I will turn it over to you, Aaron, to kick us off in our presentation.

Great. Thanks so much, Lonnie. Yeah. All right. So what I’m gonna do today, I is kind of speak to you a bit about the international student process, right? So what it’ll be like for you to apply to the states. And we’ll try to fit in a lot of information in the next few minutes kind of high level and then a bit more specific from everything to the application to what you need to.

Do to actually go through the Immigration and Visa process. Hopefully get you all, all settled and finalized and, and answer so many of your questions. And I also do have experience outside of, you know, living and, and working in Canada now. I also recruited internationally for many years, both at USC and at UC, San Diego in China, in Hong Kong in Taiwan, in India, in the uk. So have a lot of experience with international students navigating the process to the states. So kind of from the, the, the high level, right? Like the why you know, I, I think there’s a lot of great opportunities to study outside of your comfort zone and coming to a new experience in the states.

You know, ex. Experiencing learning in a different culture and system taking advantage of the many, many great institutions available to you as an international student in the us. And, and I want to acknowledge it absolutely can be confusing. A bit difficult to navigate as seemingly opaque.

Process where you’re like, how are they making these decisions and why? And so I want to help to kind of demystify that a bit for you. Understanding that it can be very different than many of the systems with which you might be familiar in terms of applying to university in your home countries. I think there’s this broad kind of narrative that applying as an international student is much, much more competitive than it would be if you’re applying as a domestic student from the states.

And while that can be true in certain universities or in certain systems, it isn’t necessarily true. Broadly. And there’s actually many places where they’re actively looking for international students and, and so well-qualified, well-prepared international students are absolutely not at a disadvantage in the application process.

And the most important thing for you to consider is that you were absolutely going to be reviewed. In your appropriate context. So there’s a lot of fear or concern that, well, how will they know, you know, what my academic curriculum looks like or the fact that I can or can’t get involved in this kind of activity.

You know, my application’s gonna look so different than a student’s applying domestically in the us and that’s true, but that’s absolutely okay. You will be reviewed by experience, international admission officers who will understand the context from which you’re applying in terms of your academics you know, your extracurriculars that you have available to you, et cetera.

So I, I think, know that going into it, you’re going to have that experience, right? So kind of for those of you that are younger and kind of just thinking about applying to the states now, What can you do earlier? Right? And, and kind of how can you plan your profiles such that you stand out? In the admission process the first and the most important thing, of course, is to focus on your academics.

So you want to take a challenging course load in the context of the curriculum available to you at your school or in your country. And again, admission officers are going to be very well versed and familiar with. All of these systems around the world. So whether that’s in the A level curriculum and so they want to see, you know, how many A levels are you taking, what subjects are they in?

Are they relevant to what it is that you hope to study? Are you in an IB curriculum? Same thing. What’s the breakdown of your hhl and SL subjects? How are you doing? Are you taking board exams in your country, like Cbse in India or you’re doing, preparing for the French Baccalaureate program, right?

Those kinds of things. So it’s all about. Within the context of your school, what are you doing to challenge yourself academically? And then of course, how are you doing? And they will obviously be well versed in kind of converting that to a US style system and kind of presenting you in the appropriate context.

To the admissions committee. And then of course, outside of academics, they’re going to be looking very closely at your extracurricular activities, right? Understanding that in every kind of country and system, there’s going to be different expectations for how a student gets involved outside of the classroom, and that may look differently for you, which is absolutely okay.

They just want to see that you have sought out meaningful ways to engage with the things that you care about. Whether inside or outside of your school, right? That’s what’s most important is how have you made an impact and how can you reflect on. The impact that those things have had on you. And that’s what’s absolutely most important.

So there’s not you know, an activity that you feel you have to do or one that looks better or worse than another. It’s about what do you enjoy doing, how have you engaged with that and how can you reflect on that and what that tells the reader about you and how it might show that you’ll engage or kind of likely to be engaged in and outside of the classrooms at the university to which you ultimately are applying.

A common question for international students of course, is, is about, you know, the exams that you might need to take. Oftentimes, many of your domestic university systems admission is based almost entirely on an exam, and so there might be an assumption that exams play a critical role in admission to the states.

And, and the kind of unhelpful answer are cross admissions to the US broadly, when it comes to nearly everything is. It depends. And so exams may or may not be a critical part of the application process for nearly every school. There is going to be some expectation that international applicants applying from a country where English is not you know, kind of the most commonly spoken language.

Are going to demonstrate their English language proficiency in some capacity. Obviously, you’re going to be learning in an English language environment in the States, and so they need to see that you’re prepared to succeed in that kind of a space. And so many schools are going to require that you demonstrate your English proficiency in a particular way.

Most commonly, that’s going to be through a an exam, right? So whether that’s the TOEFL or IELTs sometimes schools will accept duo lingo and their English language exam. It’s also possible that you may receive exemptions. So say that you’ve been at a school where you’ve been taught in English, despite that not being kind of, you know, the, the official language of the country.

At the UC system as an example, if you’ve been in in high school for at least three years in an English speaking high school, you don’t have to provide results from a test. Or say that you take the s a t and you receive a certain score on the evidence-based reading and writing section that might exempt you from needing to submit results from a TOEFL, things like that, right?

But unfortunately each school is going to be different. Each school is going to have specific cutoffs or targets that they might require when it comes to TOEFL or is scores. So unfortunately it does require a bit of research on your end. But oftentimes those schools will have their own kind of specific pages where they will kind of tell you all about their particular requirements when it comes to English language proficiency results.

It’s also possible that maybe once you’re admitted, you have to take some further exams for placement into the right courses, things like that. But that’s definitely kind of a critical part of the application process for students from applying outside of the states. And then of course, s a t or a c t.

Now that, you know, we’re kind of in this post covid landscape test optional applications seems to be pretty much the, the new normal. Most schools have continued to say that they will be test optional. There are a few that have gone back to requiring tests. M MIT is an example of the schools where tests are, are, are now required again Georgetown.

Is technically test optional, but they’re going to make you in essence, prove why you don’t have a test score. So, but many schools remain test optional, so you can take the test, SAT or ACT if it’s available to you. Easily. In your country, and if you score very highly on that test, you can provide the results of it.

Or if you feel that, you know, I don’t think this is really indicative of my ability because I haven’t been preparing for this test for years. Like students perhaps in the states, it’s not really kind of equivalent to what I’ve been doing in my system. You don’t need to provide the results from it. If you look at most schools, pretty much is the case that the percentage of students who apply without tests.

Mirror the percentage of students who are admitted without tests. And what that says to me is that you’re absolutely not at a disadvantage if you choose not to submit a test score. But of course it can be a benefit if you do apply with a strong one. So something to keep in mind, there’s also something called test free, which you may have heard of.

And that’s where even if you submit a score, the schools aren’t going to look at it. It is not something that they consider at all in the admissions process. And so the University of California schools are an example of this where test scores are not used at all in admissions. So you can apply to uc without having tests, hence test free.

So how do you kind of start, what are great resources to look at the schools that you should be applying to? I think a very common place to first start is rankings. And of course that can be a useful place just to get a sense of the landscape. Obviously the kind of US news rankings tend to be kind of the most popular in that regard.

But it’s really critical to understand what the rankings do and don’t tell you. They can be a useful tool to see what’s out there. But I would not necessarily say that they are the final determinant of a school’s quality, right? There’s so many factors that go into, you know, what may be the best place for you.

May not be the school that has the highest US news rankings. When I was at usc, there was an international student panel that we had present to our admission officers kind of talking about a whole host of things from the international students perspective. And there was a student who ultimately came to usc, but she was talking about one of her friends and kind of how she navigated the search process.

And it seriously was just like looking at US news. In conjunction with her test score and going down and seeing where her test score was above the 70, 75th percentile applying to those schools. And then she chose the school that she finally went to based on her favorite color being that school’s color which ended up being northwestern and purple.

I think she had a good experience, so it worked out for her, but that probably is not the best way to kind of go through your search. Right? Choosing based on only on test scores or, or on your favorite colors. So use rankings, but it can be just a place to start your search before then going on and doing a lot of that kind of individual work.

Looking at schools on your own. Education USA is a great resource. That is something that is run by the US State Department and they often have centers in most countries around the world. They will run college fairs or kind of programs, webinars just like this. So I would say encourage you to go to the Education USA website.

See what might be available in your country. They also have some really great tutorials on just kind of how to navigate the process. So kind of a lot of the information like I’ll be presenting today, they will also offer, which is quite great. If your school, you know, if you’re going to an international school oftentimes your counselors will be, you know, really, really invaluable resources for information on navigating the US process or kind of exposing you to, to schools that are options.

There are obviously a lot of international recruitment activities from schools in the States. So countries that receive a lot of or countries where a lot of students apply to the us there’s often gonna be us admission counselors. They’re recruiting in some capacity that tends to happen. Kind of right about now.

So a lot of recruitment is happening in kind of April and May and then again in the fall, in September and October. So be aware of potential, you know, college or university fairs where they might even be coming to your high school and they’re great resources. And then of course, going on to the individual university website themselves.

One of the, perhaps. Slight positives to come out of, of the pandemic over the last few years is that there’s been a significant expansion of virtual options available by universities, right? So virtual tours you know, webinars, virtual sessions, things like that. So take advantage of those, even if you can’t make it to campus to visit.

Use these new resources to get a sense of the place and the environment and whether you think you’ll be a great fit there. And ultimately look at applying. There are many, many factors to consider. And this is only a very, very small subset of that, and a lot of the factors are very similar to what US students are thinking about when they’re looking at applying to schools too.

So it’s really not that dissimilar, although there are of course some perhaps unique circumstances that you might think about as an international students. So I think the first thing is just kind of. What do you intend to gain out of this experience? Right? Understanding your reasons for applying to the US for wanting to study in the states that will in some ways help kind of dictate you know, the places that you apply, what you’re looking for, et cetera.

Are there unique kind of academic programs you’re looking to apply to film? Because you want to really be involved in that, right? Or the opportunity to double major. It’s a really big part of studying in the States, and maybe you’re at a you know, you’re applying from a system like the UK where it’s a very narrow focus and you’re not gonna have an opportunity to study multiple things.

So you want to come to the states for that reason. So you want to look at schools that allow for flexibility, kind of those sorts of things. Right. What are the kind of student life experiences and opportunities, how are those different than perhaps the opportunities available to you in your home country?

Of course, location in the States, right? Like that’s going to be a, a pretty critically important thing about or to consider. The size of the institution. Is it in a city? Is it in a rural area? What’s your preference there? Safety, of course, is absolutely something to consider. So it’s something you should look at and each school’s required to publish you know statistics when it comes to kind of the safety for their students.

Looking at admission requirements, right? Where might you be competitive versus where places that you know, perhaps is just not gonna be a fit for you in terms of your academic profile, postgraduate outcomes. Where do students end up? You know, do students stay locally? Do they have international opportunities?

Things like that. Alumni networks. Right? Are there particular schools that have really great alumni connections and, and opportunities with your home country, which may or may not be the case, right? How many international students are there? Do you want to be one of a handful of international students?

Because you just want to forge your own path? Or do you want to be in a place that has a very established history of international students and maybe a lot of students from your particular country, you can find a community of, of students who you know, have come from the same cultural background or speak the same language that you do.

What are the support services like for international students in the application process? Once you’re there, right, what kinds of things are available to you to help you navigate your time as a student, and then also help you when you graduate? All important things to consider when you’re looking at schools in the application process.

Of course no discussion about applying to schools in the States would be complete without something around funding, and that can admittedly be a bit of a challenge. Understanding that you know, applying to school in the States can be quite expensive. And it, it is true that at many schools, Financial aid, whether in the form of need-based or merit-based aid, may not be available to international students.

And that’s the case for a variety of reasons, but is the case that the vast majority of institutions in the us so if you’re not going to be eligible for need-based financial aid, which is aid. Kind of derived from your family’s income and assets and your ability to pay. Then another opportunity is looking at merit scholarships, which are scholarships and kind of grant aid funding that is based on the strength of your application and what you’ve done academically or extracurricularly.

So first. Many of your home countries may in fact have scholarship opportunities for their students to go and study abroad, and then of course bring that knowledge that they’ve required back to their home country. So, you know, I would say check with you know, something like the education ministry in your home country to see if, if those kinds of things might be available.

Could be a great option. There are many private options in terms of scholarships. So there’s a, a government tool that we’ve linked to here in, in the website with the US government. Also you can find that through the Education USA link that we sent earlier, or is a great scholarship search engine.

And what’s great about that tool is you can kind of, you know, say, here are the things that I kind of, you know, My background, I’m international, et cetera, and it will filter the results. So it only shows you scholarships that you are in fact eligible to receive. There’s obviously no point in doing a whole bunch of research and, and applying for a scholarship that doesn’t award anything to international students.

So something to consider there. And then of course, many universities will. Offer merit-based scholarships for international students. So something else to consider is when you’re on the admissions webpage for universities that you’re interested in, often they will have a particular part of their website.

Dedicated just to international applicants and they’ll tell you, are you considered for merit-based scholarships? Right? And some schools may, you may be in the running for up to full tuition, which obviously would significantly reduce the costs that you would need to pay. Other schools don’t give any sort of merit scholarships to international students.

So definitely something to consider. There are lots of resources, but again, it’s kind of. Something you’ll have to navigate as you go through the process. So it’s important to understand when you’re looking at. US institutions, there’s a lot of terms, a lot of things to keep in mind, right? And so I want to help you kind of understand what that looks like.

So first you may see something on a university website saying that they’re need blind or that they’re need aware in the admissions process for international applicants, if a school’s deed blind, what that means is that your ability to pay has no bearing on the admissions process. They will admit you because your application is amazing and they think you’re gonna be a great part of their class, and they’ll make that decision completely irrespective of your ability to pay, right?

So that means that they don’t look at your family’s financial situation or whether you indicate that you’ve applied or you’re going to apply for financial aid. Totally doesn’t matter. Whereas a need aware school means that they often have a bit more limited resources when it comes to funding for international students, and so they are going to consider if your family can afford it when making an admission decision.

Often kind of around the margins at the very end of the process, right? You know, say they’re getting down to their last few spots and they’re looking at some international students and like, this student has said that they need no aid. This student needs full tuition. Well, our budget is kind of running out here.

We’re gonna take the student who, who can afford to pay. Right? So that’s kind of what that terminology means is if a school’s new blind, They don’t care about your family’s financial background at all. You’ll be admitted based entirely on your application need to wear. They are going to consider in some capacity whether or not your family can afford and how much they can afford, all of those kinds of things.

Then there are other schools or kind of a term that you’ll see that says that if a student is admitted, they’ll meet full need. And what that means is that if a school admits you, They will meet a hundred percent of the need that your family has to be able to attend that institution, right? So say it costs 70,000 US dollars and they determine that your family can only afford 20,000 US dollars, they will fund that full difference, that $50,000 gap to ensure that you can go.

And so you’re gonna see some combination of, you know, a school that may be. Now the holy grail would be need blind and meets full need. There is also going to be schools that are need to wear, but then meet full need if they admit you. Right? And there’s some schools that are going to need, going to be, need to wear, but also don’t meet full need.

So all these things are important to kind of keep track of, understand those terms, right. Also, it’s possible that your passport might determine aid eligibility. There are a handful of schools in the US where if you have a Canadian or Mexican passport you might be eligible for more aid than others international students.

So kind of something to keep in mind there. Typically as an international student, you’re not going to be eligible for federal, like US government or state grant aid often because that’s taxpayer funded, right? So they’re, as it would make sense, right? They’re not going to use taxpayer funded dollars to, to pay for international students.

Right? So typically any aid that you would receive comes from the school’s own money, whether from their endowment or tuition dollars or donations or, or things like that.

They’re outside of kind of scholarships, whether those are private or from the institution or from your home country. The kind of the last funding option could be loans often available through major US banks. That is an option. Definitely want to mention it because that’s something I get asked about often.

But I will say that they often require that you have a US citizen or permanent resident able to cosign the loan. So if you have, you know, a close family friend or a family member in the United States, that becomes an option. But if you’re gonna be the first person in, in your wide network to attend in the country, that could be a challenge.

And also the interest rates on those can be quite high. So maybe if it’s just, you know, the last few thousand dollars that you need. Sure that could make sense, but if that’s going to be your main funding opportunity, I would definitely not recommend going through that as an option. There are also some countries that allow you to use your kind of government aid that you would receive in that country abroad.

Like I know that certain Canadian programs provincial kind of government programs allow you to use your money in states. And so check with your home country to see if that might be the case as well. All right. Turn it over to Lonnie and we have another poll. Yes, we do. Thank you so much Aaron. So our next poll is, you know, just speaking about the application process, we wanna get a sense of where you are in your college application process.

So let us know, perhaps you haven’t started, but after, you know, going through this webinar, you’re now getting a understanding of how to map out your college list and what that process can look like. Maybe you’re researching schools, Working on your essays. I saw we had some 12th grade students that were in here.

Maybe you’re getting your application material together. We’re almost done. So, let’s see. I have a few responses that are coming on in. All right. Okay. So we have about 40% of our attendees haven’t started yet. That’s okay. I know you all are getting ready to start after this webinar. And then we have about 38% that are researching schools, 13% working on their essays.

And then we have another 13% that is almost done with their college applications. Great. Good. Yeah, I think that would kind of make sense with the, the students that we have in the room. So a lot of the students who are 11th grade or younger are, are kind of starting right. And so we’ll definitely talk a little bit in the next few minutes about kind of applications broadly.

Cuz obviously we can’t cover it all today. And those of you that are in 12th grade, yeah, you probably already turned it in. And so the information about funding and kind of next steps in the visas will, will help you be most helpful for you. Okay. I’ll turn it back over to you, Aaron. Great, thanks. All right, so kind of continuing a little bit more on that aid discussion.

There are a handful of schools in the states and they’re pretty much just the ones listed here that are that kind of holy grail. I mentioned The schools that are need blind. And also meet full need regardless of your passport or where you come from. And it’s Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, m i t, Amherst College and Boden College.

So yeah, it’d be great if you get into one of those schools, cuz guess what? Even if your family can contribute $0 and you get admitted to Princeton. They can find a way to make it work. But of course the downside is that these are some of the most, if not the most competitive schools to be admitted to in the country.

And so you definitely don’t want to kind of, you just wanna be aware, right. Going into that the admission process that this is really, these are the only schools that don’t consider kind of your family’s ability to pay and will also give you as enough, enough money as you need to go. There are plenty of other schools that are.

Need aware, but meet full need. So, you know, places like Stanford and, and Penn and Duke and, and things like that, Williams College, Pomona College they will consider, you know, if you can afford it, but if they’re willing to make an admission decision for a student who can’t afford it, they will give you full aid.

Here’s an example of some student or some schools that give a lot of aid on average international students. And you can see that some of the schools on the previous slide are here, but some of the others aren’t. Right? Which means, again, they do give aid, but they are still considAarong how much aid do they have and kind of what are their budgetary resources and, and that’s a part of their admission decisions.

So you know, eight does exist. But the most important hurdle is of course, getting in right, and that aid can be a factor in that decision. So in terms of the timeline what does that look like? So in the kind of couple of years to 18 months, year and a half before applying, that’s when you’re really researching options, right?

Creating a list of schools, looking or kind of beginning to understand what do I want in this process? Where might I be a fit academically? What are the aid policies like, can I afford it? Having those conversations with your family, et cetera. When it comes to kind of, all right, now it’s a year out. I’m going into to grade 11.

I’m in grade 11 looking at s a T and a C T exams, taking English proficiency tests, continuing that research. And then you’re kind of fall of grade 12. So well, I guess I would say could be, maybe it’s not fall if you’re in the southern hemisphere, but October, November, December of grade 12. So when you’re actually doing the application, right, so that’s when you submit the application, you’re submitting your financial aid application.

If a school rec or asks for that, Three to six months before, that’s when if you’ve been admitted, congratulations. And now it’s talking about next steps, right? So applying for the student visa, the F1 visa. Making sure that you’re taking all, of, taking care of your next steps, housing, submitting your final records registAarong for orientation, all of those kinds of things.

And then finally, in that last month before you arrive, getting all those final things ready, booking your flights, coming to the states. Because actually once you get the F1 visa, you’re only allowed to enter the country 30 days from the start of your academic term. So whether that’s in August or September, So applications, what does that look like?

And then again, this is gonna be a very high level, quick overview. So there are many great resources from CollegeAdvisor. You know, in terms of other webinars in terms of online resources, or of course actually working with an advisor or admission officer where you can get a lot more detail than this.

But generally the main components of the application are the same. There’s not going to be a different application for international students. The process is very much similar. They’re just going to be looking at different things and again, reviewing your application in its appropriate context. So kind of what are schools looking at, you know, what do they consider, that kind of thing.

Right. So obviously as I mentioned before, the academic profile is going to be most important, so looking at. How have you performed in the context of your school or country? How have you challenged yourself academically? Those kinds of things. So that’s what they’re looking at kind of first, that’s gonna be far and away the most important.

Then they’re looking at your essays, right? So, and something that’s different than perhaps many of your domestic systems. It’s not just academics. And so they’re looking really closely at a whole bunch of qualitative aspects of the application. So you’re gonna be writing a personal statement if you’re applying to schools through the common application at 650 words.

Broadly kind of. Talking about who you are, what’s important to you, what have you done? Kind of the only place where, in your own words, you’re introducing yourself in a way to the missions committee. And there’s all kinds of great resources about, you know, writing your personal statement. Because that is a really important and critical part of the application process.

Many schools, although not all, will have supplements to an application as well. And they’re going to ask. A handful of questions specific to that institution. So that personal statement will go to every school to which you apply on the common app. The supplements only go to that school, so you’re gonna get usually some variation of why do you want to study at this institution?

Usually some variation of what do you want to study in terms of your major. Some variation of you know, talking about an extracurricular activity you’ve enjoyed, or You know how you’ll contribute to that school’s community. Stanford asked a question about writing a letter to your future roommate, talking about, you know, who you are.

The University of Chicago is known for, its kind of really quirky questions like talking about, explain the significance of the impact on the world if the moon was made of cheese, things like that, right? So those are the supplements that you might see for specific institutions. Then they’re going to ask for your extracurricular activities, right?

Like a summary of what you’ve been doing. Outside of the classroom. So when you are either at school but not in class or home on your own, what are your interests? What are formal things that you’ve done? Informal things that you’ve done because they want to get a sense of US schools are very residential, which means that students are living.

Often on or right around campus all four years. Campus is a hub of the student experience in a way that may not always be the case into other systems around the world. A and not all learning is going to take place in the classrooms. US schools are very focused on that, of course, but also in kind of the rest of your experience as an undergraduate.

So they’re looking for students who’ve been active and engaged. In something or some things across their time in high school. So they’re going to look very closely at your activity summaries list, what are you doing? What’s the depth of your engagement and involvement in those things. And then of course, they are going to ask many schools, but not all.

We’ll ask for recommendation letters. So like the University of California schools, for instance. No recomme reference or recommendation letters needed. Many other institutions will ask for one, two, or three reference letters, so be sure that in your grade 11 year you are kind of thinking about what teachers might be great for you to ask for reference letter.

So often it’s going to be two teacher letters and one from a counselor at your school. So an an academic or kind of university counselor. And it’s important to kind of understand a bit about how the admission process works in the states that you know, in many countries and systems around the world, admissions is based entirely upon your kind of academic metrics.

So whether that’s an admission average based on kind of a G GPA kind of a thing, whether it’s you take an entrance examination and your score on that exam kind of dictates, okay, you can get into this school, this school, this school. It’s very different in the us. Yes, academics matter. But they’re looking to again, build a class of diverse students with diverse interests from all over the world who are going to come and contribute in that residential space and learn with and from each other.

And so that because of that, the application is very different. And it’s also just important to understand the competitiveness. When I was at USC my last year there, and it’s only gotten more competitive. There was, you know, 66,000 applications. Of those 19,000 students had test scores in the 95th percentile or higher, 9,000 students had essentially a perfect GPA in the US style system.

So essentially near perfect academic records. The freshman class was 3000 students. So you cannot possibly just use numbers and metrics and test scores and kind of academic profiles to make decisions because you have way too many qualified students than you have spaces. So you, again, are looking whole lot really carefully at the qualitative pieces.

And so that may be something that’s a bit different than your home systems. Or what you may be used to. And so that’s also why it seems confusing or, or opaque. It’s like, well, wait a minute. This student had a perfect test score and didn’t get in, and that doesn’t make sense to you. But in the US system it kind of does.

Cause they’re looking for more than that, right? And so it’s some way to keep in mind. Many schools may have an admissions interview as part of it, and so you might feel as an international student, this is a great way to demonstrate engagement, show English proficiency, thing like that. And they can be and also some schools will use opportunities of things like initial view or barric can’t, where you do kind of.

Admissions interviews to demonstrate English language proficiency. And it’s not done by the school, but through those companies, and they will then look at it when they’re reading your application. Most importantly is you don’t wanna memorize the script you don’t want it to sound rehearsed right, or, or that you’re literally just reading off of something behind the computer screen.

If you’re doing a virtual interview, they can tell when it’s kind of forced or memorized, so you want to prepare answers. But again, just don’t read a script. And so you want to prepare answers for common questions cause I’ve listed there on the screen, you know, Y X, Y Z institution. Why study in the United States?

What do you wanna study in terms of major engagement with activities, those kinds of things. Be sure that you engage with the interviewer, if that’s a part of it, right? Like the, the third party platforms. That’s not really gonna be a part of it, but if you are applying or interviewing with an institution often it’s gonna be an alumni or an admissions representative from that school ask about their experience, ask about, you know, what’s great about that institution, show engagement.

That’s a really critical part, and do plenty of research online beforehand. So if you’ve been admitted, congratulations. Next steps, well, obviously there’s, there’s some things that you need to do to actually kind of ensure that you can come and, and study in the United States, and so that’s something important as well.

Most students who are admitted and are going to enter to study as undergraduates in the United States will need to apply for something called the F1 student Visa. The only students that are really exempted from this is if you have another kind of visa already, maybe through a parent’s job or something like that, or Canadian students.

They don’t need the F1 visa. How that will work is after you’re admitted, schools will send what’s called an I 20 form after you accept their offer of admission. And you’ll need to provide them with, to get the I 20 a scan of your passport, proof of financial support. And they may ask for that during the application process after you’re admitted.

Again, it depends, as I said earlier, right? You’re going to then, after you receive that I 20 register with something called cvis, which is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You pay a, a minor fee and kind of put your information there and then schedule a Visa interview with a US Embassy or consulate in your home country.

It’s important to schedule that essentially as soon as you can. Because you know, there may be delays and you don’t want it to be, you know, a month before school starts and you’re like, oh yeah, I gotta get the visa right. And then you realize that, oh no, the next available date is after school starts.

Luckily wait times have kind of gone down as we kind of move a bit out of the pandemic. You know, I, I looked at the system the other day. You know, the wait time at, at the consulate in Shanghai is only 16 days. The wait time in Mumbai though was 45 days. So you definitely want to kind of get on that sooner rather than later.

The wait time in Jakarta was two days, so each country is different. Make sure that you start as soon as possible. So you’ll apply in line for the Visa. And then you have to attend that Visa interview that you’ve scheduled at the consulate, you know, with a officer with the US Immigration Service.

And what you’ll do in that interview is essentially just. Do your best to explain why you want to study in the US again, how you plan to support yourself while in school. So if it’s all coming from your parents or if you have scholarships or things like that. And then what your plans are for your studies.

When you finish, do you attend to go back to your home country? You know, what kind of plans do you have? Things like that. So then if you’re approved and you have the visa you’ll will then gather those necessary documents. And get ready to enter the United States. So you’ll bring your visa with you and your passport and I 20 form all of that.

But it’s also important like to understand a bit about, okay, what’s this country that you’re heading to? Right? Learn about US holidays and customs or laws or, or things like that, right? Many inter or many schools will have an international student orientation. Often right before school starts kind of help you with some of these things, understanding that this is going to be something really new for you, right?

And so you’re gonna have an opportunity to learn about those kinds of things which is really quite helpful. And the school will often kind of have sessions for you about can you work. While you’re studying and the answer is yes you can after a certain amount of time, either on campus or in something related to what you’re studying and for certain, you know, limits on hours per day and, and hours per week.

And then also it really isn’t necessarily if you’re interested not too early to think about pathways to stay in the states after graduation. Right. So what do those opportunities look like? There’s something called O P T or Optional Practical Training where you can get a job in something related to what you’ve studied and depending upon what your major is, there are certain time limits for how long you can work in O P T status after you graduate.

You know, at career fairs on campus, you absolutely can. You know, ask employers. Oftentimes it’s more likely at bigger corporations, you know, do you sponsor international students and, and Visa processes, whether it’s for like the H one, which is the skilled worker visa, things like that. So often the International Student Support Service Office will be able to help you with these questions as well.

So all things to kind of consider as you’re navigating this. Lastly, as we kind of get close to wrapping up before taking your questions you know, it’s important to think is this the right option for you? Right? You know, maybe it’s just like in your head, you’re like, I wanna go to Harvard. That’s great, but it’s a lot of work in terms of applying.

It’s probably a lot of money unless you can get in into a place like Harvard that meets full need. And so is this the right fit for you? What are your reasons for wanting to study and does this journey make sense? Where should you seek guidance? Right? How can you really make sure that you, you’re not navigating this process blind.

So whether it’s a service like CollegeAdvisor, whether it’s Education USA or your counselor you know, making use of those opportunities. And of course when to start. Right, and, and so honestly, the sooner the better because it is a lot of work because there are a lot of different kind of procedural things and hurdles to jump through.

The earlier the better. And so I’m glad that there’s many students who are in 11th grade or, or earlier here today learning about this process. So at this point I’ve done a lot of talking. So thanks for sticking with me. We want to turn it over to see if you have any questions, and we’ll answer those for the next few minutes.

Yes. Thank you so much, Aaron. So now we are, that is actually the end of our presentation portion of the webinar. I hope you found the information helpful. And we are now gonna move on to our live q and a. So how it’s gonna work is I will read the questions that you have submitted or that you’re getting ready to submit in the q and a tab.

I’ll then piece them into the public chat so that you can see them, and then I’ll read them out loud before Aaron gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your q and a tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.

Okay, so our first question is does the high school, which I was in 11th and 12th matter I, I mean, Broadly, no. In the sense that like, you know, you’re not gonna be penalized for attending a certain high school. So, you know, if if it’s the school that you’re, is local to you and it’s where you’re supposed to attend, great.

That’s fine. It matters in the sense that you’ll be reviewed in the context of that high school, right? And so, again, Pretty much every institution in the States will have a dedicated team of international admission officers who oftentimes have more experience than a lot of the domestic readers because it is a bit more work to understand the different systems, right?

And so they will do as much as they can to get to learn your school the context from which you’re applying, the academic avail or opportunities available to you, those kinds of things. So it matters in this sense that it will a bit change how you are reviewed. But not in a negative way. And so, you know, attend the school that makes the most sense for you.

Okay. So next question is how can I make myself visible to US admission officers? And this was from our questions that were submitted from our registrants. Sure. So, so in some ways, Well, with some schools there’s can be something called demonstrated interest. There’s a bit less of this in the admissions process now than there was pre covid.

And it tends to be at schools that are not quite as selective as the the top, top tier of institutions. But what that means is that they consider how. Interested a student seems to be in that institution. And so, you know, if a school is sending you email, I know it can be overwhelming, and you’re like, oh my gosh, all of these emails, well, if you click and open it, they actually have ways to track that, right?

So engage with the things that they send you. If an admission rep is coming to your country and you’re able to go to the fair, great. Do that. But also at the same time, you don’t need to feel obligated to do that. And again, at many of the most competitive institutions, they don’t care at all. It’s all about your application and do you stand out in the application process?

And that’s a very different question than kind of engaging with admissions beforehand. Right? And so there’s lots of ways to do that in your application. Separately from emails and, and things. Okay, so next question reads, is it worth it? Some schools are like 60 K a year, whereas my local schools in Canada are like six K a year.

I feel like the difference in tuition isn’t reflective of quality. Would there be more of an opportunity if you went to a US school again? Is it worth it? Mm-hmm. That’s a great question. And a question that I honestly you know, have conversations with, with my students in Toronto every day about that question.

And, you know, ultimately I think I. Broadly, you’re right, like there are some great schools in Canada and of course all over the world there that are similar in terms of the kind of caliber of education you’re going to receive as you would at many schools in the States. So instead, I want you to think about is that experience worth it for me?

Because it’s going to be a very different experience studying in the United States. Than it is in Canada where I obviously have a lot of experience or in, you know, in China or in the uk, in India, et cetera. And so is that experience something that you feel is worth the difference in cost? The fact that you’re going to be in that residential setting living and working with your peers?

Do you want that kind of experience you see in the movies, right? We’re going to the sports games or kind of that social life is a very different aspect than it might be at some institutions. Do you want exposure to a more international network? Right. There are of course plenty of schools and countries all around the world that host international students, and you’re gonna meet people internationally, but also if you’re going to some of the most competitive US schools.

Do you want that exposure to people from all over the United States? All over the world? And again, is that exposure, is that broadening of your horizons and your network worth it to you to make that decision? So I I I think it’s a different experience. It’s not one that’s better or worse. It’s the right fit for you.

And that’s a question between you and your parents about, do you feel that the kind of opportunities that she would gain by studying in the States, is that worth it? Okay, thank you. So we’re gonna take a short pause for me to share more about the work that we do within CollegeAdvisor. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be.

Especially for competitive applicants like yourselves. Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code on the screen.

During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it aligns up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership. After scanning a QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team.

Okay, so now we’re gonna continue with our questions and answers and the QR code will stay on the screen. Is admissions easier when you get an athletic scholarship at the school you want to attend? Sure. Yeah. I mean that’s the content for an entire separate webinar in terms of the application process for student athletes.

But you know, at certain US institutions so division one, which is kind of the highest caliber of athletic competition in the United States. They are looking to field competitive teams who are going to help them win championships and they are looking for the best athletes in that particular sport internationally.

And so I was on the admissions committee that dealt with athletes at at U S C and at U C S D. And oftentimes, you know, filling, kind of rounding out some spots in, in those teams, they would look to international students, you know, students who were on like their national rowing team in Estonia, right?

Or, or running for team Great Britain you know, in kind of junior Olympic programs. Ultimately you still have to meet many of the same qualifications as you would if you were applying without kind of that athletic background. So, English proficiency that you’ve taken, a challenging course load, et cetera.

You’re still gonna have to complete the application, all of those kinds of things. Ultimately, you know, if you’re going to to fence at Harvard, you still have to be a student who’s going to be able to succeed academically at Harvard. So. I would say yes and no in terms of is it easier? Mm-hmm.

Mm-hmm. Awesome. Great, great, great. Well, I think that was our final question that we have. So with that, Aaron, I wanna thank you so much. You’re welcome. For sharing this really great information about applying to US colleges as an international student. I’m pretty sure our attendees and our viewers gained some really valuable information.

And with that, just one more announcement. We do have one more webinar that we’re gonna be doing for the month of April, and every month we have every month and every week actually, we have different webinars that are all geared towards us supporting students on their path of applying to college. So with that, thank you everyone for your attendance and have a great.

Day. Thank you, Aaron. Thank you. Bye-bye. Bye.