Applying to US Colleges as an International Student
Are you an international student interested in going to college in the United States? Demystify the college application process with help from CollegeAdvisor.com.
Admissions expert Jamie Williams will share his tips and advice on navigating the US college admissions process during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
- What is the recommended college application timeline?
- What challenges do international students face when applying for colleges??
- How can I prepare for the financial aid process?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2023-01-29 – Applying to U.S. Colleges as an International Student
Anesha: [00:00:00] Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar. We’re so excited to see you. My name is Anesha Grant. I’m a senior advisor at College Advisor and I will be your moderator today. Today’s webinar is applying to U.S. Colleges as an international student. Before we get started, I just want to orient everyone with the webinar timing.
Our presenter will share some tips, resources, and guidance, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in the live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides under the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab whenever you are ready. Now let’s meet our presenter, Jamie. Hi, Jamie.
Hi. How are you?
Anesha: I’m good. How are you?
Jamie: I’m doing great. It’s early here in California though, so I I’m still waking up.
Anesha: Yes, same. I’m also in California, so yes, for sure. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jamie.
Jamie: Sure. I’m a senior advisor with CollegeAdvisor. And I [00:01:00] started working with international students when I was in college at Stanford.
I signed up with a program called Volunteers in Asia, and in addition to placing me at a university in China to teach English, I took Teaching English as a second language classes and worked with, uh, mostly Chinese international students working on their dissertations while they were studying at Stanford.
And so it was a great introduction to, uh, working with international students and helping them access educational opportunities in the United States. And then later on I started my own consultancy, uh, where I worked with a lot of international students, uh, again, mostly by remote and mostly in China, although I had a few from Saudi Arabia as well.
Um, and I just, you know, I, I love working with students, which is why I’m here at College Advisor. And I think. The international student has a [00:02:00] slightly harder road to getting into U.S. colleges. And so, uh, I’m hoping that everybody will find this presentation useful and, uh, if they have any follow up questions, we’ll have the Q&A afterwards. Uh, and I’m happy to answer those.
Anesha: That’s awesome. I appreciate you sharing your background in that context. Um, that’s exciting. Uh, and I’ve never worked with international students, so I, I’m excited to learn from you today. Um, and I appreciate the both of us getting up early on the Sunday morning in California.
Um, and we’re excited to be here with you. But before we get started, we do want to hear from you a little bit. Uh, so folks, we are gonna have a poll really quickly and we would love it if you all could tell us why are you interested in studying in the U.S.? We know we have a few options, so let us know. Um, and while we’re waiting for that, I know that you studied at Stanford, so what was, what were the best places to eat over there in college?
That’s always my question. Where’s the food at?
Jamie: Well, When I, when I worked at Stanford after I, I [00:03:00] finished my, my education, I was actually the director of marketing and business support for an organization that included most of the restaurants on campus and, and dining hall. So, um, I, I definitely have some inside preferences there.
I, I love the renovated old union, uh, cafe. Um, the old union used to be, you know, the original administrative building and, uh, student space at the university. Mm-hmm. . And then in the fifties they built the, the newer truster Union, which has more dining options. But there’s something nice about the older space and.
Maybe about 15 years ago, they renovated it and turned it back into a fully student driven space and put a cafe in. And, and so that, that’s one of my favorites. Um, but you know, Stanford really has a lot of great dining options and as does Palo Alto, so I think anybody who attends will not have a bored pallet while they’re there.
Anesha: Mm-hmm. .
Yeah, that’s true. I [00:04:00] found that to be true all over California is that there’s always gonna be a variety of foods. Um, but I haven’t spent too much time with Palo Alto, so I appreciate you sharing that context. Mm-hmm. , um, uh, and I love that there’s a student driven, um, you know, component to, to the food.
Um, I know students often love those types of opportunities. All right, we’re gonna go ahead and close our poll. Thank you all for submitting your responses. And before I head off, Jamie, I will just let you know that about 36% of folks have said both athletics and academic opportunities are, are some of their top reasons for wanting to study in the U.S.
Um, 7% of folks said prestige. 14% said portability of skills. Um, 7% said exposure to American culture and 2% said other. So maybe a combination of those, but it seems like athletics and ACA academic opportunity are kind of top of mind for everyone if you wanna keep that in mind as you move forward. All right.
So I will hand it over to Jamie. I’ll be back a little bit later. Um, but please submit your questions in the Q&A as we’ll be able to respond to them throughout the presentation if [00:05:00] possible, and absolutely at the end. All right, have a good one.
Jamie: Awesome. Thank you so much. Well, hello everyone. Uh, let’s get started.
So in my presentation today, I’ve divided things into six major areas that are of significance to the international student, um, and define the international student process. So the first one is planning your candidate profile. Um, how to stand out among the many students who want to gain access to U.S. schools.
Uh, the second item in the process, researching your options and developing a target list. International students deal with some specific challenges, uh, at U.S. schools like funding. Um, unless you’re part of, of a Fulbright scholarship or, or something like that. There really isn’t a lot of federal government money available, uh, for international students in the United [00:06:00] States.
But there are a lot of other, uh, funding sources that can be very helpful. Um, and those are often driven by your school selection. And, uh, so that’s a, it’s a component to consider when you’re developing your target list. Next, funding your education will go into some, uh, details about financial aid, how to approach it, how to prepare for it, um, what to expect, and which schools are, uh, particularly advantageous in terms of large awards for international students.
Next, we’ll talk a little bit about how to apply to your target schools. Um, then we’ll talk about the all-important piece, uh, of securing a student visa. And finally, some last-minute advice as you’re preparing for departure, uh, coming to the United States, things that you want to do to ensure a smooth transition.
So first of [00:07:00] all, standing out is important as you know, especially if you’re applying to very competitive schools. Some admissions officers read literally thousands of applications in an admission season. Uh, so to stand out, you want to have a strong GPA and you want to cultivate that really from the beginning of your high school, uh, career.
Some schools like the UC’s really focus more on sophomore year and junior year, but even so, I find if you have good habits going into high school, those habits will, will bring your grades up and you, you should have consistently high grades throughout. Um, that’s a priority. That’s kind of the entry point to, to standing out.
You want a strong GPA, a challenging course list. The [00:08:00] next one is to build relationships with potential recommenders. So if there are teachers that you have a, a particular, uh, connection to or are teaching a subject that you’re passionate about or, or teachers that you’ve had in multiple classes or, um, who have seen you do really extraordinary things in your work, uh, or in class, those are the people that you want to maintain a relationship with and ultimately ask if they would write you a recommendation because they know you well enough to write a, a strong recommendation letter filled with anecdotes about personal experiences with you.
Um, the next one is to develop strong extracurricular activities. I know for international students, oftentimes it’s hard to have a, a portfolio of, of extracurricular activities that, um, matches with a typical, um, U.S. student in applying for colleges. [00:09:00] Uh, different areas of the world have different things available, and if you’re in an urban center, you probably have opportunities that are fairly similar to those of students in the U.S.
If you come from more of a rural setting, it can be really challenging and especially if you’re, you have a long commute to school or if you have family responsibilities. So planning ahead to have strong extracurriculars is important. Um, the things that I find particularly significant are things that are aligned with your academic interests, um, activities that you’ve invested a lot of time in. Um, so not just things to pack your resume, the fall of your senior year or the, the spring of your junior year, but things that you’ve, you’ve engaged in and you’ve grown in over time. Some examples are athletics, uh, you know, maybe different academic [00:10:00] clubs that, that where you’ve sustained a commitment like debate or speech or, um, science Olympia or math Olympia.
You know, there are a lot of activities, uh, to choose from, but showing a sustained interest and seeing if there are ways where you can develop a passion project out of it and really elevate that experience and take it from something that might be somewhat common to something that really shows a unique, uh, a unique level of, of impact or achievement. Um, and then finally planning your curriculum ahead of time and gathering documentation that facilitates recognition of, of the credits and diploma that you receive. Uh, by U.S. schools, a lot of classes equate pretty [00:11:00] easily things like biology, chemistry, math, English, um, however, in different places in the world, there are different classes that don’t have a natural analog in the American system.
And so making sure that you’re in communication with your school registrar and that you’re able to document what is the content of this class, how is it evaluated? Um, keeping a record of those things as you go will help you out in the admissions process because you may need to submit some information like that, uh, or have your school send that into your target schools.
Um, have your high school, send that into your target schools. So be aware that, that, that can be a challenge for some students.
So another component is, uh, exams. International students [00:12:00] usually complete an admissions exam, like the SAT or the ACT. Um, SAT is the Scholastic Aptitude test. An ACT is the American College Test, and both of these are meant to measure your academic potential. So, uh, many schools are moving away from, from placing a lot of emphasis on those. In fact, the UC system here in California has gone completely no test admissions. Now that can be good for students who are not strong test takers, but if they’re not using those admissions tests to evaluate your academic potential, they’re placing more emphasis on your extracurriculars, your grade point average, the rigor of your curriculum, uh, and your extracurriculars.
So if you know that you’re applying no test, you wanna make sure the other elements are strong [00:13:00] enough to, to raise you up. And sometimes, you know, I usually advise students to take an SAT or an ACT, kind of see how they do. You don’t necessarily have to send that to any schools, but if it’s going to work in your favor, uh, sometimes it’s better to have those as part of your application if schools will accept them.
Um, the other thing that many international students have to consider is, uh, if they don’t come from a country where English is the language of instruction in school, uh, many times you’ll have to take a, a TOEFL test or, uh, an IELTS, uh, the International English Language Testing System test, uh, just to validate that your English skills are strong enough so that you can receive instruction in English and, and thrive in, uh, United States university.
Uh, for students who received instruction in [00:14:00] English or, uh, live in a country where English is a primary language and speak it fluently. There are ways to get around this, but those vary often from school to school. There’ll be different standards for defining what constitutes, um, English proficiency. So check with your target schools.
That’s why it’s important to have that, that list. Um, develop it as early as possible so you know where to reach out and you develop contacts at those schools.
So, the next major thing is to research your options and develop a target list. And the first step in that is determining what are the factors that are important to you, then you want to find track and compare schools. I like to use a spreadsheet so I can see each school side [00:15:00] by side and compare, oh, you know, the average GPA of the, of a student from last year’s admitted class, um, to track your likelihood of admission.
Um, you can track location. Maybe you have a, preference or a climactic preference, uh, and you can make comparisons across them. I, I also like to track financial aid opportunities. How much aid does a school commit to providing, um, from your defined need? Um, and then finally, you want to confirm that your target schools are certified by the Student Exchange Visitor Program, SEVP, uh, the State Department, which grants Visas uses the
SEVP certification as a way to determine which schools are eligible to accept international students. So before you apply for your visa and really before you, [00:16:00] before you even apply, you want to make sure that the schools on your list are certified.
So, going a little deeper into the key factors, uh, to consider when you’re targeting universities, some of these, uh, factors are academic offerings. You know, if you know you wanna study biology, do they have a strong biology department? Are there programs within biology that are of interest to you?
Maybe interdisciplinary opportunities. Um, many schools have many of the same majors. How those majors are implemented, the specific curriculum that’s going along with them, and, uh, career training opportunities can really vary significantly. So you want to be aware of that. One of the first places I usually go when I’m researching a school is to look at the programs that are [00:17:00] available in the areas of interest for the student I’m working with.
Um, so other factors, location, size, geography, maybe you love being by the beach. Um, and being close to the beach will put you in a serene state where you can, you can excel as a student. Well find schools that are close to the water , um, size. Some students really thrive in an intimate, uh, small liberal arts kind of environment.
Other students, you know, feel overly constrained by that and, and prefer a, a massive, uh, research institution where there are just amazing resources, uh, that they can leverage in their studies. Uh, for other students, maybe it’s a matter of distance. Uh, if you’re from Canada and you want to be able to drive home, uh, you [00:18:00] know, relatively frequently, probably want to be close to the border, you know, close to wherever home is, uh, campus culture and student life for another factor to consider.
Uh, Stanford for instance, was very casual. Uh, whereas many East Coast schools tend to be a little bit more formal. People dress up for class sometimes. Uh, at Stanford it was shorts and t-shirts and flip flops all year round. Uh, another factor is housing. And this has been an increasingly important factor.
Uh, some schools have just amazing housing stock, uh, historic buildings where students live, uh, different housing configurations like singles or suites or, uh, studio apartments or two room doubles. Uh, think about how you, how you work best and maybe the level of, of privacy [00:19:00] that, uh, you’re most comfortable with.
And housing is one way to address that. And then finally, financial considerations. And I know for a lot of, of international students, families, the financial considerations are, are really the most, uh, important, uh, just to make sure that there’s a reasonable funding source to make that opportunity accessible.
So the next thing I wanna talk about is funding the education. Um, the first place to start with, uh, for scholarships, grants, uh, is with your home country’s educational authorities, uh, and ask for scholarships, grants, and even loan opportunities that are specific to students studying abroad. Every country has a different setup.
Sometimes there are special programs [00:20:00] for students studying in, in certain countries. Um, for instance, I believe, uh, I believe there are some grant programs that, uh, in the UK that favor, uh, study abroad at members of the British Commonwealth, uh, countries that are members of the Commonwealth. Uh, and different countries have different relationships with the U.S. State Department, and so there are a lot of opportunities out there.
That’s, that’s where you wanna start. Second, you want to connect with the international admissions and financial aid departments at your target schools. Connect early, send an email, make a contact. Who deals with, most of them are divided up by region. So figure out who is handling your region and, uh, that person will be a resource to you when you’re asking questions about, [00:21:00] uh, availability a and applying for financial aid, uh, special admissions requirements, uh, you definitely want to set that relationship up early.
Next, I like to track scholarship and grant opportunities from private foundations, businesses and nonprofits, and I start with this early. Um, your first few explorations through, uh, online databases like FastWeb or scholarship.com. Uh, many of those opportunities will probably not be open to you until you’re in your senior year, but if you track the ones that, that, that would be, uh, fruitful, uh, matches for you in terms of meeting the, the requirements for that particular opportunity, like GPA, like country of origin, [00:22:00] like, uh, involvement in particular activities, uh, by tracking those, you’ll be ready to pounce on them when the admissions, or excuse me, when the application window opens and, and you can kind of get an initial sense of am I applying to enough opportunities to really meet my funding needs?
Uh, I know in my senior year in high school, I probably applied to, I don’t know, maybe 60 or 80 different scholarship opportunities. And I was, I did well with those. So the first year of, of college was essentially funded by scholarship money and then, um, being a school that commits to meeting most of students need, Stanford jumped in with additional money when those one year scholarships ran out.
Um, [00:23:00] so track your opportunities and be conscious of whether these are one-time awards or whether they’re renewable for, uh, additional years. And then finally, uh, consider U.S. government exchange programs like the Fulbright Scholarship, which funds students from, from other countries to come to the U.S. to study.
So private aid for international students. As I said, international databases like fastweb.com are a great listing. Have a great search tool that lets you navigate tens of thousands of scholarship opportunities. Um, a little tip here is to also check for scholarships through corporations and international organizations, cause they tend to be open to international students.
Some examples are the United [00:24:00] Nations, the World Health Organization and, and Google scholarships. Uh, multinational companies tend to be more tuned into the needs of international students. Uh, and there, there are many of them out there.
So when you’re ready to apply to your target schools, you’ve gathered all your information, you’ve decided on your school list and, and you’re feeling confident about, you know, these are the places that I, I want to go. And they’re certified, uh, they’re certified schools where you can get your student visa.
Um, you want to decide on an application strategy and decide if you’re gonna apply early and where you want to apply early. Early admissions divides up really into two categories. There’s [00:25:00] the EA, uh, which is early action, gives you an early admissions decision, but is non-binding. So you can apply EA to multiple schools, um, and maybe not end up going to any of ’em.
Uh, but there’s no conflict, uh, in applying to multiples. The other way to apply early is ED, so early decision, and that is usually binding, in fact, pretty much always binding. Uh, meaning that you only want to apply to one school ED. Um, usually it’s a particular reach school or, or a school where you want to demonstrate your commitment to attending that school.
Um, and you, you can do that with ED, which says if I get in, that’s where I’m gonna go. Uh, some students prefer not to do any early applications, although for international students, [00:26:00] I tend to feel that the earlier you start on your applications, the the less protracted the process, you can kind of move on to the next steps in a timely manner.
If you extend your admissions, uh, your application period out into, you know, February, you’re losing a little bit of time. And, you know, it’s not the end of the world, but oftentimes it’s easier just to kind of get that admissions piece out of the way and then focus on financial aid, on preparing for the trip, getting to know, uh, the area and the school where you’re going, that you’re going to attend.
Um, next you wanna organize your application related tasks. So I like to pull everything together into either a document or a spreadsheet and. Track, you know, uh, this is my, you know, I’m planning to Stanford. These are the nine written responses that I [00:27:00] need to make. And, you know, couple essays, couple short responses, couple, uh, you know, one or two word responses.
But if you have it all laid out there and, you know, school by school, what you need to complete and when it needs to be done and submitted, it just keeps you organized so you can focus on completing those requirements and sending them in on time. Um, and collecting those writing prompts and short answer questions that tends to be writing those essays.
And those responses tends to be the most stressful portion of the applications process for students. Um, it’s open-ended and they’re looking to understand who you are as a candidate. So seeing all of those. Those prompts and questions laid out together will also allow you to find economies of scale. So maybe one [00:28:00] essay can work in a few different places at, you know, different schools.
Uh, you definitely want to think about, about your application in terms of a complete package that the school is seeing, uh, that represents you as a candidate. So normally, uh, I like to use Common Apps. So they’ll see your Common App, personal statement, and then they’ll see the writing for your supplement.
So think about the impression that those documents, uh, give as a portfolio rather than as kind of siloed, standalone, uh, documents.
Okay? So the next piece that I wanna share with you is the timeline. So, about two years to 18 months before you leave to study in the U.S. So, [00:29:00] uh, that would be, that would be like the beginning of your junior year to, oh, like January, so second semester of your junior year. Um, you want to intensively research schools and programs.
Now there’s no problem starting earlier. It’s just that many students don’t have a strong sense of what they want to do yet. If you’re moving into sophomore year or freshman year, um, usually by junior year students have a stronger sense of, of schools they’re interested in what they probably will major in.
Um, at the same time, you wanna register and prepare for entrance exams, so SAT ACT if there’s a, uh, English test that you need to complete, this is when you want to schedule [00:30:00] all of that and start the preparation process. Um, this is also the point where I advise hiring a college advisor or, um, somebody who’s familiar with the process to help you navigate it and help keep you, uh, moving forward and motivated and meeting the deadlines that come through.
I, I know the college application process in the U.S. is a pretty complicated one, especially relative to, to some other countries where, uh, you know, like in China where you have the gal cow, it’s one exam, everybody takes it, it’s huge stress. But based on that exam, you, you are allocated to a particular educational opportunity.
There isn’t that emphasis as there is in the United States of, of sharing your identity and explaining your, your goals and your academic path. Um, [00:31:00] and I think the U.S. way of doing it really allows students to define themselves as individuals and make affirmative statements about what they want to accomplish, which I think helps immensely in terms of, of focusing them on a goal.
But it is a lengthier process and in it requires more time and, and more resources in a lot of ways. Uh, between 12 months and 14 months, uh, before you come to the U.S. to study, finalize your school list, start writing your essays and make sure your references are secured. Uh, 10 to 12 months before U.S. study.
Get your transcripts requested. Make sure you have, uh, any score reports from tests. Uh, make, send those to the appropriate schools, uh, complete and submit your applications. Make sure you [00:32:00] have, if there’s any curriculum, uh, questions about transferability, make sure you have all that documentation lined up so you can send that to your schools and help them understand your transcript.
Uh, most admissions departments are pretty savvy these days about, uh, country to country differences in in grade reporting and classes. But there’s always a chance that something is just new to them or they haven’t seen it before. So you wanna make sure that all of your documentation is in order. Um, then once you’ve received your admissions decisions, that’s when you start the application process for the Visa.
Um, and it’s a fairly fast process. Um, you apply online and we’ll talk a little bit [00:33:00] more about that. Um, you also wanna make sure that your health insurance, uh, you, you have health insurance in the United States researcher options. Many schools provide options to students. Um, and then you wanna make your travel arrangements too, about a month before you, you leave for the us do your final preparation and then, uh, prepare for classes before you arrive.
So know what you want to take, uh, have identified the opportunities that you wanna make use. Okay, so best schools for international students. I pulled these based on, uh, the fact that they’re all need blind. So they admit you without consideration for your ability to pay, and they meet your full financial need.
Now what they calculate is your full financial need. So that’s a rare and [00:34:00] special opportunity. And as you can see, all of these schools are long reaches even for top students. Um, Amherst, Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Yale. All fantastic schools. And if you can get in, these are great opportunities for, uh, receiving financial aid, significant financial aid as an under, as an undergraduate international student.
Um, I pulled this information from US News and World Report, uh, the 2022 edition. And this shows you, uh, the schools that give the most aid to international students. So, Haverford College, which is a small liberal arts college, has 55 students receiving financial aid. And each of those receives an average of 7,000, excuse me, $76,600 towards their education.
So that essentially [00:35:00] cuts your tuition, uh, and you know, your costs for an undergraduate education in half. Um, you can see some of the larger schools like Dartmouth provides, uh, aid to a large number of international students. So 327 receive an average of 75,460. So this, uh, this data is in the slides.
You’re welcome to download it. Uh, and uh, This is really helpful. I think if you’re, if you’re targeting schools based on, uh, financial aid, so applications and essays, I like to use the Common App because it’s one application that you can use for multiple schools up to 20. Um, some students like to cast the net a little more broadly and, and apply to more than 20 schools.[00:36:00]
And if that’s the case, oftentimes they’ll use both the Common App and the Coalition App, which is similar but has different schools in slightly different essay prompts. Though, uh, your personal statement for the Common App can usually be used for the Coalition App as well. Then there are supplemental essays that vary by universities and all of these prompts usually address or are intended to give you a chance to talk about your different identities, your experiences, challenges or goals, and why you’ve chosen to apply to their school. Um, some of those prompts are pretty straightforward and some can really be downright strange. Uh, like the University of Chicago is known for having an interesting sense of humor.
Uh, one of their prompts is what advice would a wisdom tooth have? And there are many others that are, are similarly [00:37:00] head scratcher questions. Um, really intended to give you something to write to, to respond to and be creative.
So admissions interviews. They tend not to carry as much weight as they used to when they’re admissions officer interviews. Now they, at most schools, they tend to be alumni interviews. So lower pressure, more conversational, uh, but you still wanna keep in mind some nonverbal aspects like punctuality, eye contact, confidence, courtesy, um, having a good, a good conversational flow.
Um, and going into it, you want to anticipate questions about academics, about your activities, your goals, your future plans, the same things that you’re writing your essays about. Um, practice responding to questions about your motivations for wanting to study in the U.S. [00:38:00] that that will likely come up. And, uh, prepare a few relevant questions to ask your interviewer, uh, about the school and their experience.
They’re a great, these alumni interviewers offer a great opportunity to get a firsthand account of what it’s like to be a student at that school and, and what the longer term outcomes have been. Um, and overall, you’ll just want to stay calm and be confident and, you know, share your college dreams with this person who’s interviewing you.
Okay. Applying for a student Visa is the next piece. So you have been accepted to, uh, SEVP approved University in the U.S.. Um, you want to use the SEVS system, so the student and exchange visitor information system online, and you start by paying [00:39:00] an I 9 0 1 fee, which is about $350 currently. , your school will then provide you a form I 20, which you present at the consular office.
When you have your Visa interview, um, you complete the online application forms. Pay another $160 fee for the online non-immigrant Visa application. So meaning that you don’t plan on, on moving here and, and living in the United States except for the purpose of your education. Um, then you identify the nearest embassy, U.S. embassy or consulate to where you live, schedule a Visa interview with them. And, uh, after the interview, you should know whether or not you, uh, have been granted. The visa and the application will be processed usually within several days of the interview. Sometimes right, right there while you’re, uh, while you’re interviewing.[00:40:00]
So to prepare for departure, um, you wanna make sure that you’ve received all your required vaccinations and that you have proof of vaccinations. Um, this can be especially important in this age of pandemic. Um, make sure that you know all of your travel vaccinations are up to date. Make sure that you scan any important documents just in case your passport, your visa insurance, prescriptions, credit cards, and make sure that that.
Someone at home has a copy of this and that you have access to a copy in the United States. So if you lose these documents, the originals, you have at least a copy of them to work from. Uh, another important thing is to make sure you set up a U.S. Bank account and decide [00:41:00] how you’re gonna handle money while you’re in the United States.
Um, oftentimes transfers from international accounts can take a little extra time. So, um, if, if your family or your parents are, are helping you fund your education and you’re expecting money transfers, uh, , make sure that you have something set up a and defined ahead of time. Talk to the bank officials.
They can tell you how long transfers will take from your country of origin. Um, they can be very fast, or for some countries they can be a little bit on the slower side. Um, and then finally decide how you’re gonna communicate with your family while you’re away from home and make sure your cell phone is set up to work in the U.S..
So, um, some families like to get on a video call once a week or, uh, you know, call, uh, using the phone. [00:42:00] There are a lot of different options and having a plan ahead of time can be really helpful. Okay. Other factors to consider? There’s some big cultural differences, and sometimes if you are used to one way of living, uh, coming to the United States and experiencing a different way can, can feel surprisingly isolating.
So make sure that you have a community of of people who you know with whom you share. Uh, common origin, common faith, common culture. Um, it, it can be a little, a little taste of home even when you’re away from home. Um, the, the availability of familiar foods, uh, you would be surprised at the number of students I’ve spoken with who, who are very kind of set in, in terms of [00:43:00] what they’re interested in, in eating.
Um, If that’s you, make sure that the foods you’re familiar with and that you enjoy are available in the place that you decide to study. Uh, social norms can be a little bit different. The political climate can be challenging. In, in, in the US we’re kind of polarized right now. Um, local laws you wanna make sure that you’re aware of, of major statutes so that you don’t accidentally violate laws.
Um, and then make sure that you’re aware that there’s a difference between real U.S. culture and what you see on television or in the movies, which is, uh, you know, oftentimes not an, a completely accurate reflection of how things are here.
So finally, some additional tips for international students. , um, [00:44:00] research your application requirements as early as possible. Be conscious of time management, uh, throughout this process cause organization is the key to success. Um, write your essays and supplements and, and make sure that they respond to the prompt and that they’re well edited.
Um, I, I really recommend having an editor or someone you can work with to give you honest, timely feedback on your writing so that you can develop iterative drafts and advance them towards a polished, thoughtful, impactful, uh, impactful essays. Make sure that you’ve prepared for all required exams and interviews.
Uh, make sure you have a financial plan that covers tuition, housing, food, incidental expenses. Uh, make sure you, first thing you do after you’re accepted is to start the application process for your visa and, [00:45:00] and sustain your focus on academics and extracurriculars through this application process. It sometimes feels like a whole nother extracurricular activity.
Okay. So, uh, I’m gonna hand it back over to you now. Thank you Anesha.
Anesha: Yeah, no, no worries. Um, alright, thank you so much, Jamie. Like I said, I learned a lot and there were a few questions that I wanna get to, I tried to answer, but would love to get your perspective. But before we do that, we do wanna have a quick poll.
So to all that, um, Jamie shared, let us know if you are planning to seek the professional help of a college or the help of a professional college advisor. Um, and if you found that like navigating some of these components, the complexities of them would be supported with a college advisor. Um, I’ll let you sip some water so that you can, uh, take a break before we dive into the questions.
But I did have a lot of students who tackled that, um, U Chicago essay about a [00:46:00] wisdom tooth, and there was another who tried to do, um, uh, you, you are meeting martians for the first time, how do you explain the world to them, or why, how do you tell them? I forget that Chicago question, but there was something about Mars, um, and trying to explain it to, to folks from a different planet.
So, um, try to explain the earth to folks from a different planet. So yeah, the University of Chicago, even if you get help on nothing else, that would definitely get some editors essays as they are, um, complex and, and a little unique even for, um, uh, U.S. students. All right. Yeah. Um, folks, let us know if you’re planning to seek, it’s totally fine.
If it’s a No, it’s totally fine if it’s, maybe we just wanna know what you’re thinking at the end of today’s, uh, session. Um, all right, I’m gonna go ahead and close it. So about 50% of folks said yes, and so that’s a win. Um, if you feel like that would be, uh, useful for you, that’s good to know. 33% of folks are on the fence.
And so for those folks, I’ll just [00:47:00] move this ahead a little bit more quickly into our presentation and just let you know that College Advisor is a very great resource for a lot of students regardless of where you’re coming from. And we are here to help. We have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts that are ready to help you and your families navigate all the things in one-on-one advising sessions. You can take the next step in your admissions journey by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team. Um, and you can use the QR code that’s on the screen to do that. During that interview, we’ll talk about their college list, we’ll talk about extracurriculars and putting that into context and discuss how everything aligns with your potential, um, application strategy and outline tools that you’ll need to stand out.
So we’ll keep that QR code on the screen as you move into our Q&A. Please feel free to start submitting questions through the Q&A. Whenever you get ready, I will read them aloud and share them out to Jamie so that he can provide an answer. Um, if you’re not able to access the Q&A, you might have the log out, log back in, in order to get through the [00:48:00] link, um, that you received via your email.
Uh, so one of the questions, we, I had an exchange with a student in the Q&A while you, you’re presenting around scholarships. Um, and so wanna give you a chance to talk to that a little bit more, but the question was, is there, or one of the questions I’ll take away is, is there any way that a student can get a 100% scholarship as an international student in any university?
And can you name a university I will share with you that I said that’s not something we can guarantee, depends on the institution, um, but, you know, wanna give you the opportunity to respond as you are more of an expert, uh, than I am.
Jamie: Yeah, you, you’re absolutely right there, there, there are no guarantees until you apply and receive it.
Um, but there are universities that have, uh, a policy that allows international students to receive the same aid as, as domestic students? Um, off the top of my head, I, I, I can’t, well, other than the ones that I’ve already named in terms of meeting [00:49:00] the full, um, need for students, um, as well as, um, being need blind in their admissions.
So those, what is it? Seven schools. Um, if you demonstrate a need that equates to a full ride scholarship, so, uh, that would probably mean that your family has a pretty low income, but you are very academically talented. You can secure a full ride at those schools. Um, I think the challenge for international students though is that it takes a certain level of affluence usually to be able to study abroad.
Um, the, the requirements for a Visa include, uh, being able to be financially responsible for yourself, and so the coordination [00:50:00] of need for an international student along with access to need blind admissions and schools that are committed to fully meeting your need, that can be kind of a rare alignment of things.
So it’s not impossible, but it’s not very common. In fact, many schools use international students to help fund scholarships and programs and things that their domestic students aren’t paying enough to cover. Um, I, I think especially in the last 10, 15 years, there’s really been a greater emphasis on recruiting international students because many of them pay full tuition.
Mm-hmm. . Um, but there are opportunities out there if you’re organized and you’re diligent about the search. So don’t give up.
Anesha: And then I did paste in the chat a [00:51:00] article that I found, um, from best colleges.com that kind of lists some scholarships and resources for international students. So hopefully that will be a helpful resource.
And just as a reminder, the list that, um, Jamie is referring to is on slide number 14 on the handouts. If you’d like to download that, remember it’s under the handouts tab on your, um, dashboard. Uh, the next question that I’m not sure if you got to, um, or you spoke to, so I apologies if you didn’t, I missed it.
But would an international student attending, um, a school in the U.S. be counted as an international student, or would they be counted as a U.S. student? Which pool would they fall into if they’ve been attending school in the U.S.?
Jamie: Um, if you went to high school in the U.S., uh, you can apply to U.S. colleges as, uh, uh, an equivalent to a U.S. student.
Um, in fact, I, I’ve worked with many [00:52:00] students whose families, uh, decide that it’s worthwhile to send their kids often, um, often by themselves to live with relatives in the U.S. to attend high school here, to make the college admissions process easier. Um, so that’s a pretty common path.
But usually I think it depends on the state, the, the amount of time you have to live in the U.S. before you can claim resident status. And so usually, like you can’t just move out a couple months before the college semester begins and say, Hey, I, I’m, I’m a U.S, student now cause I live here. Uh, it takes a while to establish that, uh, officially.
Um, I think in California, I believe it’s six months. I think there are other states where it might be as much as a year. Um, and in fact this year I was helping a student [00:53:00] with admissions to, uh, some universities in Tennessee and I noticed they have a different system about establishing residency that explicitly excludes students who are, who weren’t born in the state.
Uh, so it, it really varies pretty profoundly state to state.
Anesha: Uh, you said six months and I was gonna, in, in my experience, I’ve seen like three to five years, but I think that might be eligibility for in-state tuition at public schools. Um, so I don’t, I don’t wanna freak anybody out, be like, you have to move live here.
But it will definitely be longer than, um, you just kind of popping over probably at least the entire academic year, um, within the U.S. And so maybe looking to do your senior year or at least your junior, senior year. Um, so when you’re around 16, 17, 18 in the U.S. Um, just for clarity, as I know, the 11th grade, 12th grade doesn’t always translate.
Um, one question, um, that came up earlier was, uh, talking a little bit about [00:54:00] athletic recruitment as an international student, especially if you are attending schools in the U.S., is that similar? Is that different? Or, you know, how, how does that work? Um, and then another, I think a parent was asking around, um, for Canadian students trying to get seen by, you know, um, American schools during the recruitment process.
Um, any thoughts you’d have on athletics and recruitment I think would be helpful.
Jamie: Okay. Um, so athletics can be a little bit of a different experience. Um, if you are a top performing athlete in a sport that, uh, your target school is recruiting for, uh, the athletics department can often provide resources that assist you with this whole process if you are a student that they, they really want on campus.
Um,so [00:55:00] athletic recruitment can be a little bit different. Um, and depending on, depending on how you’ve engaged with the athletics department, have they approached you? Have you approached them? Um, were you scouted or are you just a top performer in your home country and you’re hoping to get noticed here? I, I think your first conversation is probably to contact the coach of the, the team that you’re hoping to be on at the, at the school that you want to attend and have a conversation with, with that person about, uh, about your interest and see what they can tell you about the process or, uh, you know, how to proceed at, at that school.
Uh, if they, if they want, want you, and they’re recruiting you heavily. That can eliminate a lot of barriers. Uh, [00:56:00] and then in terms of standing out as, as a, a Canadian student, um, I think in a lot of ways it’s the same as standing out as a domestic student. Uh, you want to make sure that you have strong essays, high GPA, good test scores if you’re going the, the, the testing route.
Um, and that you demonstrate through your extracurricular activities some passion for something, uh, passion and commitment and, and hopefully impact. Uh, so for instance, if your, if one of your strengths is your volunteerism and your community service orientation, uh, helping people one-on-one is great. It it, it’s selfless.
It, it’s concerned with contributing to the community, but if you can make that a [00:57:00] one to many, you have a much bigger impact. So think about how to transform the things you love to do and that you’re moved to, to contribute to in ways that will give you a greater impact and ability to help more people.
So, set up a process where others can follow you rather than just doing it, you know, on your own. Uh, engage your friends. Create resources that can live on beyond your direct involvement. So think, think big and then work out the details.
Anesha: Yeah. There are a couple things I wanna follow up on. Like, so I think for extracurriculars, cause I know the focus on extracurriculars is a bit different for international students.
And so I think what you just shared about community impact and innovation independently, is one of those things that I think schools like to see. Even if you’re not necessarily on a basketball team or doing something regularly, I think that those independent projects that you can come up with.
And then I think for athletes, and I would say even [00:58:00] for musicians or folks who have a demonstrable talent, recording yourself as often as possible, recording yourself in group settings, recording yourself individually if camps happening in your country, you know, working with your parents, family, friends, to just get yourself, um, recorded skills demonstrated so you can share that, especially if folks can’t come out and see you in person or you can’t attend some of the camps taking place in the U.S. The last question that I think we’ll have time for is that a parent I think asked Covid, lockdowns impacted their child’s marks in grades nine and 10 or in the lower grades.
How can they make sure they improved for 11? And they know that will be a big impact, but how can they ensure that the school takes the impact of Covid and the lockdowns into consideration and the application process?
Jamie: So, schools are acutely aware of the impact of Covid in lockdown. Um, some of them have even created special essay, optional essay questions to give students a space to address the impact to them. [00:59:00] So you don’t have to go through any special process or, you know, make a particular point to highlight that covid has been an impact. It’s understood, I think to have been a big impact on most students. And most schools have a means to communicate that if it was particularly severe in the case of your student.
But I think also there’s some benefit to maybe acknowledging it was a hard time, but you’re moving forward. So, if you want to kind of set a tone where you’re setting what happened during Covid aside and kind of coming back to focusing on the core of your educational experience, I think schools like that. [01:00:00] They like to see that, okay, you were thrown a little bit, but you got back on the horse and now you’re back on track.
That resilience, I think, will play in your favor.
Anesha: Yeah. And I’ll just add to that. Actually in your letters of recommendation, if that’s something you’ve got teachers who’ve been able to see, speak to that and say, you know, I was worried about them coming into this class this year, but I saw them put in extra work, energy.
I think being able to add that to context as well, of your teachers being able to see the growth that you’ve demonstrated or that the student has demonstrated in the letters of recommendation. That is all the time that we have. Jamie, thank you so much for a very thoughtful and thorough webinar.
Apologies that we did not have a little bit more time for the Q&A, but feel free to engage with us in some other ways and absolutely leverage the handouts that are up there. Again, under the handouts tab. Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you, Jamie. Again, we hope you gained some insights and perspective on deciding to apply to U.S. colleges as an international student.
We hope to see you [01:01:00] soon, but until next time, have a great day everyone.
Jamie: Okay, thanks Anesha.
Anesha: Of course. Thank you.