Applying to US Schools as an International Student
Senior Advisor, Kelley Sweeney, provides insights on how to navigate the US admissions process as an international student.
2022-01-18 Applying to US Schools as an International Student
[00:00:00] Let’s go.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on applying to schools as an international student. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in the live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and Mae tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for making time to meet with me today. My name is Kelly Sweeney. I am from Texas here in the U S um, I am a graduate of Texas a and M university, and graduated back in 2006. So I’m not even going to state my age. You can do [00:01:00] that. Math. I’m also a national board certified English teacher, a college preparation instructor as well.
And I’m also a senior admissions advisor with CollegeAdvisor.com. So again, I’m so happy you were able to join us today. And I would just like to share some of the do’s and don’ts some tips, some general information based on the college admissions process in the U S for international students. And just in case, in case you’re interested, or maybe you have friends or family that you’d like to offer that to this exact same presentation is also available.
Spanish also given by me available on our CollegeAdvisor webinars site, the only difference is I’m wearing a pink shirt instead of blue. So like I said, same information in case you would like to share that with any friends or family. All right. So again, if you have any Q and A’s during this presentation, maybe something is unclear or you have an idea and, you know, [00:02:00] again, all great questions, all questions are valid questions.
Please feel free to note those in the Q and a, because we will be having a Q and a session at the end. So with that said, let’s get started. Um, right. So you’re onto our first lab poll of the night. Uh, and what grade are you in? So we’ll go ahead and start collecting those responses at this time. Uh, please submit your answers.
And in the meantime, uh, Kelly, quick question for you. Uh, what was your favorite tradition when you were a student at Texas a. Well, I sat was easy. It’s so funny how quickly that came to mind. Uh, that would definitely be the midnight yell, midnight yell practice. Um, in case you’re not familiar with that, uh, pretty much before, uh, any football game and again, American football, not soccer.
I know we have a different word for it, but the night before, uh, we have literally at midnight, a yell practice, and it really does start at midnight just because so many student lives are so different. Some people are up late [00:03:00] studying. Some people are working. Um, you know, a lot of us have very busy lives.
So practice starts at midnight. There’s essentially no reason that you shouldn’t be there. Um, and that would probably be my favorite tradition because it really did bring the student body together. And you, you meet a lot of really great people that you might not have met otherwise. So a really great experience, um, really inclusive for all.
And one of my favorite memories. Perfect. Thank you so much for sharing that, Kelly. All right. So we have some responses that have come in. Uh, so, uh, 10% of you are in eighth grade. Uh, 10% of you are in 10th grade. 30% of you are both in 11th and 12th grade. Um, and then 20% for other. So it seems like majority of you are in the latter years of your high school.
So, um, great. Um, and, uh, we’ll continue on with the presentation. All right. Well, that’s great to know everyone. And again, that helps me. Um, [00:04:00] but again, this presentation is really for anybody it’s for parents. It’s for younger students, older students, because again, the application it process is the same for everyone.
Uh, no matter when you get started. So with that said, let’s get into the good stuff. And again, this presentation is available for you to download, uh, through this site as well. Um, so again, please share this to whoever in your life can help you with this process, because like I said, it truly is a journey and the more the merrier.
So with that said, let’s get going. First off, what are some challenges that all students face when applying to college? And again, that’s why I said the application process is the same for everybody, but there are some minor things that do affect international students. We’ll get to those in just a bit, but as for everybody, um, what does everybody need?
You know, what are some things that, you know, you will need in order to complete, again, a successful, uh, application to university first off, uh, impressive coursework and grades. [00:05:00] And with that said, you know, nobody’s perfect and everyone knows this, but again, you want to showcase the best version of yourself.
So again, The student that just kind of took the bare minimum and they made really great grades. Well, that’s wonderful because that looks really pretty. Although a student that did tackle the more difficult coursework that took the advanced coursework, and although they may have struggled a bit, it does show that you are willing to, you know, go ahead and already start at a young age, that level of difficulties.
So please don’t think that that will backfire on you. That actually looks really well. But again, you don’t want to struggle throughout the entire school career. You definitely want to seek out help in order to improve your grades, your grade point average, or what we call the GPA. You want to make sure you, you guard that, um, as though it is one of your most precious, precious [00:06:00] possessions.
So again, if you are struggling in your coursework, you definitely want to seek out assistance where available. Other things that do come into play when it turns to college application process are things that, again, in general terms, things that are related to extracurricular activities or community service, again, things that you do outside of the academic sphere.
So things that you do to help your community, to help people around you, the clubs, activities, uh, camps, sports, you know, anything that’s not related to the actual classroom now with that said, okay. Side note. Covet, right. It is the global pandemic. It is something that has affected us all. Um, if anything, we all have something more in common now because it’s something that none of us were really prepared for.
So again, us universities are very aware of what a damper dependent Mick has put on a lot of activities for [00:07:00] young people. So again, if you were, if you used to be in a lot of things and you know, unfortunately a lot of those things may be aren’t continuing on or there’s maybe a gap there. Um, again, please be aware that colleges here are aware of the situation and, you know, as long as.
I explained, I mean, there’s, there’s not much else left to say we all understand the situation. Um, moving on, standardized testing. So again, these are things like what we call the sat, the act. Although some universities still have a test optional policy at the moment it’s, that’s been on for about maybe a year and a half, two years.
We’re not really sure if that’s going to continue. I will say on later in the presentation, you have to think of each university as its own entity, with their own rules, their own procedures. So really the best way to find out, you know, is my university of interest requiring standardized testing. The best thing to do would be to either visit their website or contact them directly with that [00:08:00] information.
Um, next off teacher and counselor recommendations. And I, I actually wrote on there, relationships are very important. So, you know, you don’t want to ask for a reference letter of recommendation letter. From an adult in your life that you’ve maybe only spoken to once or twice, you know, it has to be someone that knows you knows you as a person, both academically and maybe outside of class as well, but not too far out of, out of class.
So things like teachers, counselors, um, advisors, maybe, um, like your coach in a sport that maybe you play in school, you know, someone that works with you on a day to day basis, it’s not friend or family. So, you know, again, when you’re around these people, you definitely want to be the best version of yourself.
You definitely want to, again, project how, what you feel is the best that you have to offer, because when it comes time for you to ask for recommendation and reference letters, then of course you want them to say [00:09:00] great things about you. So again, If you haven’t already started that short list in your mind of, of people you’d like to, to, you know, request these from that’s something you should start thinking about.
And again, be nice, be your best version of yourself when you’re around them. So when it comes, it comes time to ask them for that. They of course, you know, very, very happy to do that for you next off. And of course, this is my forte, right? Because I’m all about the writing essay and written response requirements.
Now I cannot stress this enough. And again, this is for everybody. Writing is involved. There are very few universities that do not require some kind of written component. There are some universities that have an optional written component. Although if you speak with the university admissions offices directly, they do say, well, yes, you know, it’s optional, but it always looks great if it’s there.
So, you know, again, as far as. What we call required essays. There are some that are required. There is [00:10:00] usually a choice of some things that you can complete. Um, although each university again is its own entity. So you have to think of that as well. You know, some universities ask for one, some ask for two, I’ve worked with clients with universities that ask for up to five, sometimes nine different written components.
So like I said, it, the sooner you start researching universities of interest and you research the requirements, the better it is for you, because I’ll get to it later. That’s not something you’d want to do last minute. Um, and of course all these things I’ve already mentioned, wild lady. This is a little. I know that and you know, again, but you have to think of it in your mind as you are preparing yourself for the next four years, if not more so again, you know, you are preparing for a really big step in your life.
So of course, in order to get all these things done effective time management is absolutely essential. So if I had to choose one thing on this list, that was the [00:11:00] most important. It would definitely be effective time management deadlines and really sticking to those deadlines because I can make a great big calendar of deadlines and completely ignore it.
You know, that doesn’t help me at all. So like I said, we’ll get to that later. So moving on, and again, if you have questions, answers things that you need, please make sure you’re writing those down, putting those in our chat. All right, let’s go. All right, moving on. So this is for everybody. What are some specific challenges that international students face now?
Again, a lot of these are. Common sense, but you know, sometimes these may be some things that you may not consider when you want to come to the U S so of course, number one, cultural differences. A lot of things may look different than what it is you are used to. So of course, that, that that’s a given of course, you know, then you might also have language barrier.
Um, I’m sure a lot of you may have already thought in your mind, you know, she speaks to different kinds of English. [00:12:00] Um, and you will notice that depending on what area of the us you decide to, um, you know, apply to university, if you do come and you visit different parts of the U S we do have different accents.
Like I said, I’m from Texas and I’m, but see, more specifically, I’m from south Texas. I sound very different than someone from north, Texas, east, Texas, or west Texas. And again, that’s only within one state. So you will notice, um, not only language, the English barrier, but also different styles, different diets.
As well. So something to keep in mind, also academic writing is very different than, you know, just writing for an English class, um, academic writing at that level, at that style of vocabulary. And again, it comes with age, um, you know, it’s not something that just happens overnight. You can’t just sleep on a dictionary and expect osmosis, right?
Um, something that comes with experience. So, you know, the academic style of writing is something that some students do struggle with sometimes as well as [00:13:00] difficulty understanding lecture. Because depending on the subject, depending on the professor, we do same way. We have international students, we have international professors.
So again, you may be working with people from all over the world, um, in different areas of your academic life. So sometimes you do have to put forth extra effort in order to bring all these things together, to make sure you are successful as a student, also financing. Um, think of it this way. Imagine me and my two hands.
This is getting into college. This is paying for it. They are two completely separate journeys, but both very essential on your journey. So, you know, again, how am I going to pay for all of this? And there are some hidden costs, you know, a lot of people just think of tuition and what I’ll have to pay at the college, but that’s just half of it.
And that brings me to the last point on my list. You know, homesickness, you get homesick. How often do you want to visit? Is that financially viable for you? Um, can you afford the [00:14:00] flights back and forth to visit home? Um, and also where do you want to live while you, um, apply and go to university? Um, have you thought about your budgeting, how you will pay for bills, food, gasoline?
You know, so, like I said, financing, definitely a very important part of it as well. So something to definitely not forget about. Um, and again, within that is also how will I visit home in case you do experience homesickness. All right. Moving on. So what essays back to the written response, right? Because really in, in our work, we noticed that this is the bulk of the work.
You know, a lot of it is things that you have already done. You have already participated in activities. You are already working on your grades and your coursework. Um, but this is something that comes to everybody in this brand new. So what exact, uh, essays or written responses are required when you’re applying to college?
So within the universities, in the U S like I said, they were all [00:15:00] they’re different, you know, separate entities, but they do have some things in common. And that includes the type of applications that they will accept. Now, again, these applications are not accepted by all universities, but a large majority.
And these include what we call the common. And within that specific application, students can choose from a list of about a little bit less than 10. I think it’s about seven, seven prompts that you can respond to. Although some universities will ask that you select a specific, specific prompt, excuse me.
We also have the coalition app also widely accepted students can also choose what writing prompts they would like to respond to as well. And then you have what we call the written supplements, supplemental essays, extra. Um, and again, that varies by university. There are some universities that require multiple essays or even multiple written responses.
Some universities will require not only just essays, multiple ones, but also. [00:16:00] Uh, paragraph short written responses as well. So again, once you have made your list of colleges of interests, the best course of action is to start finding out the requirements and really what it is that you will need to complete.
Um, as far as what type of writing is it, what kind of prompts are these? They usually deal with personal experiences, maybe some difficulties, some struggles, but also some goals that you may have, uh, throughout your life. And again, the style of writing is what we call reflective writing. You are reflecting about yourself.
And unfortunately, as we get older, you know, throughout our academic life, you know, Come farther and farther away from this. So again, reflective writing, writing about yourself, writing about your life and things like that. That may be something that is either new to you or something that you may not have done in a long time.
But again, these prompts are readily available on the internet. Like you [00:17:00] can literally type in common app prompts, you know, for this current year. And you can see the types of prompts that are expected of students to write about. And maybe that way you can kind of start. A good idea as to what, what you’ll need to do in the future.
Um, again, if you have any questions, any answers, make sure that you are posting those in our Q and a session because we will go over those at the end, because if you have a question, I’m sure most people have the exact same one. Um, and if you’re not able to post a question in the Q and a make sure that you did click the link through your email and not just through the general site, um, but again, please post it there so that we can discuss it with everyone at the end of the presentation.
All right. Moving on our next poll.
All right. Sorry. We’ve made it to the second pole of the night. And, uh, the second question is where are you in the college application process? Uh, so we’ll go ahead and start collecting those responses at this time. [00:18:00] Uh, and Kelly, uh, please tell us, um, another fact about your experience. So maybe what was your, you know, one of your favorite courses, uh, when you were a student at Texas.
Well, honestly, I must say that. Okay. So Texas a and M university gigantic university. Um, just a quick, quick blip. My first class at Texas a and M you know, 8:00 AM first day of, you know, first year, the size of that class was literally the size of my entire high school, because I come from a very small town.
Um, so that was quite a shock. But as you go through, that was fun because I’m thinking this is my entire school in one room, uh, auditorium. Um, so that was quite a shocker. But as you move through the college process, your classes do become more specialized and smaller. And because I was an English major, one of my favorite classes was literally, um, [00:19:00] about 20, 25 of us in a, on a table, like in a, in a boardroom table discussing literature.
Um, and it was almost like a very, very professional version of a book club. And, um, it was, uh, you know, world lit and it was modern world lit. So they were books that, you know, you may have seen in a bookstore, but you may not have picked up because they’re outside of your genre. And, you know, we really just sat around and talked about how important these books are, make connections.
Um, and it really just kind of put me into this sphere. You know, we all want to think how we’re so different, but we’re really not. We all, we are all very much similar. They’re all things that we have in common. So that was a very valuable course to me and something I’ll definitely never forget has definitely made me, uh, it was a big part of who I am today.
All right. Well, thanks for sharing that in any of you, if you end up at Texas a and M just make sure to take that world lit class. All right. [00:20:00] So, uh, the results have come in and, uh, we have nearly about 20% of you haven’t started yet a little over 50% of your currently researching schools. Um, 6% of you are working on essays, uh, while, um, 12% of your getting your applications materials together.
And another 12% of you’re almost done. So at the quarter view, within the last two steps of the process, and then a high majority of you in the very beginning, um, from the beginning of the process. So.
We’ll see, that’s not too bad because everybody is at least at a different spot and everybody kind of has a good idea of where they need to be and what’s at least expected. So that’s great to hear that most of you are already within this process and that you already have an idea of what will be expected.
So that’s actually wonderful to hear. So, um, good job guys. Keep up the great work, you know, I know it’s not easy. So, [00:21:00] um, let’s move on again, valuable information that I’m sure you may be wondering about, um, for those of you that again, will are coming from international countries. You may be wondering what inter international English language exams are required by our universities.
So we actually offer two different ones. One’s called the TOEFL and IELTS. You know, I always misspelled that. Um, especially, especially the test of English as a foreign language, that one is widely accepted, but then you also have the academic version, which is the international English language testing system.
Now again, same way with the applications. So think of it the same way, you know, many except common app, many except coalition app, but you have to check. Okay. Think of that. This the exact. Many except the TOEFL many, except the ELLs. But you have to make sure that you check with the university, which one do they want?
Which one do they accept? Some [00:22:00] except only one, some accept both. Um, so again, once you have an idea of where you’d like to apply, then you can find that information readily available. Um, so again, the best course of action is just to verify what exams that you have to take depending on the university that you’re applying to.
Only because you don’t want to sign up for an exam and take it, put yourself through that, and then realize that that university doesn’t even accept that version of the exam. So definitely find out that information before, uh, English language testing. No. There is a caveat there. If you attend a English speaking high school at this moment, um, some universities will waive that testing requirements, but again, in order for that to occur, you have to contact them directly, you know, explain your situation and see what steps you need to take if that is available to you.
So again, it’s all about contacting these universities directly and getting that [00:23:00] information firsthand. All right. So moving on, what are some key factors that you should definitely consider when you are applying to university? And that includes things like program offerings, you know, just because the school looks cool and you know, my friends goes there that may not be the school for you, because what if it doesn’t even offer the program of study that you’re even interested in.
So again, that should really be. Your first point of interest, do these schools that I’m interested in offer the programs, the academic programs, the degrees that I am interested in pursuing. So that would definitely be a number one at the top of your list. Other than that things like locations. Size and geography.
So again, um, when you’re thinking about, you know, studying in the U S is there a certain section of the U S that you would like to visit again? And you’re not just visiting, you are living here [00:24:00] for, you know, sometimes three, four years, maybe even more, um, depending on your, on your personal journey there.
So, like I said, different parts of the U S look very different from each other. Um, you know, the, the Northeast lots of cold, lots of snow, um, versus the Southwest, literally a desert. So like I said, you know, definitely something to consider as well, as well as the size of your university. Um, like I shared with you, that was a big shock for me.
When I attended a large university to have my first class be the same size as the school that I had the entire school, like that was as many people as my small previous school was in one auditorium for one class. So you definitely want to consider the size of university that you may want to attend as well.
As far as distance and I mean distance from home. So you always have to think of this as well. You know, again, you’re going to be living in this state for years. So if you do want to visit home, you [00:25:00] experience homesickness and a visit might help. You want to visit for holidays there. You know, God, God forbid I’m knock on wood, um, that there there’d be an emergency and you need to get home as soon as possible.
Um, will you be able to get there in a feasible amount of time, also campus culture, campus activities, the types of activities, the type of culture that is on that campus, will you be happy being part of that culture? And again, most university websites have specific sections of their websites, all about the usual use the terms, student loans.
And that has to do with things out of the classroom. So activities that are available, the type of culture, the kinds of people, the kinds of things that they do, you know, when they’re not in the classroom, um, definitely something to consider as well, because you will be spending most of your time there as well as housing, you know, again, do you want to live on campus when you’re in university, you want to live in a dorm in a dormitory, or do you want to live off campus and something like an apartment?[00:26:00]
Um, again, this is just my personal recommendation. Um, this is what I offer to my class. I always recommend that you try to stay on campus the first year. And again, that is just a personal, that’s my personal opinion. It’s not something you have to do. And the reason why is because when you’re a first-year student, you should be focused on just that being a student, not where you’re living and who’s my roommate and how am I going to pay the electric bill?
You know, again, if you live on campus, of course it’s not free, but you know, you usually pay up front and all of these things are included and you’re not having to worry about this on a month to month basis. Um, but you know, once you get the feel of university life after your freshman year, your first year, then of course you, you know, you have other options available.
Um, but again, something to think about as well, All of these things boil down to financial considerations, how will I pay for all of these things? And yes, we will be talking about this here in just a bit. All right. So moving [00:27:00] on, what are some things that. We’ll expect to find when you’re attending a us university as an international student, again, you’re coming in, um, joining us.
So again, a large mix of cultures, and that may not be something that you were used to, depending on what part of the world you’re living in. Um, here we have a little bit of everything. So again, a great big mix. Um, again, you, you will be meeting from people all over the world, usually, uh, both as a student, professors, other employees of a university, other people in the town where you were living.
Um, so definitely a great experience. Something I recommend for everyone, but again, something that may be new to you and that’s okay. You know, we all come from, from somewhere different and that’s what makes the world great. Um, as far as, oh, food, um, the type and the selection of. Maybe completely different than what you’re used to.
You may not have even anything available. You may have to make your own [00:28:00] food just because that doesn’t exist. Uh, depending on the university that you are attending. Um, I had some friends that lived in my dorm that would do that. I’m going to cook in my dorm because I want to cook my food. Um, and it was wonderful.
Of course I took advantage of that because I like trying new things. But like I said, just be aware that the type of food or the selection of foods that you may be, um, used to may or may not exist at your university of choice. Um, also social norms, you know, depending on different countries, different norms, different things that are acceptable and not, um, they will probably be different here as well.
So like I said, some things to consider, um, like I said, I had quite a shock when. Really, this is a classroom. This looks like my entire school. So, and again, that’s because I’m from here. So, you know, even, you know, us born students, you know, we experienced that as well. So again, there may be some things that are different than what you’ve experienced in your life so far.
Um, [00:29:00] political climate, uh, depending on, uh, is it an election year or not, you know, Some, some people are very passionate about their beliefs and you know, that may be something that you’re not accustomed to as well. So again, that’s kind of bolt into social norms as well, and plus confusion. And I use that word specifically confusion, uh, based on maybe what you saw in a movie one time, you know, I saw for example, California, um, you know, it’s, it’s a lot of driving and beaches and this and that.
And you know, all they do there is make Hollywood movies. All of California is not just Hollywood. There’s much more there to see, um, Texas, even, you know, everyone, um, lives in, you know, everyone lives on a ranch and everyone owns a horse. Um, not everyone, uh, some people, a lot of people, but not everybody. So again, just some things that may be confusing, um, that they will be dispelled immediately once you attend.
Um, [00:30:00] so moving on, you know, okay, let’s talk about your interview. So again, as an international student, most universities would like to interview you and it would be something very similar to this. Like a zoom call, a video call, Skype call, um, you know, how can you prepare for a, for an interview with the university, if they ask you for one.
You have to think of a university interview as you would any other interviews. So think of it this way. You want to put your best foot forward, right? You were going to be the best version of yourself. So you think of it as any other interview as though it was for an internship or employment. So again, although we are on a zoom call, you must keep in mind non-verbal aspects, things like punctuality, eye contact, confidence, and courtesy.
Here’s a great example I can give you right now. So let’s imagine that I would completely change my body language right now. And you know, I’m not right in front of you, [00:31:00] but for example, if I would have done this entire presentation up until now like this. Yeah. So when you’re applying for universal. Um, you know, there’s a lot of things to consider.
That’s not good. And you know, we’re not in front of each other, but again, nonverbal language is still very important. So, you know, make sure that you are engaged in that conversation as though you were really physically in front of your interview. As far as your questions, what kind of questions would you anticipate?
So things that regard your academics, your activities, your goals, your future plans, you know, talk about yourself as an academic student and also what your future plans may be. Also be prepared to respond to questions about your motivations for wanting to come and study in the U S but most importantly, just stay calm, be confident and share your dreams.
You know, this is why I want to come. I have a [00:32:00] goal, I have a focus, I have a plan. And of course, you know, share that with them, but make sure you’ve thought about that first. All right. So as far as support, you know, so again, thank you for coming to our webinars. So like you have started, uh, your version of support already, but what other support is available to international students?
So before attending university. You will get a welcome packet. You will get information regarding things like financing, housing, the student visa process orientation programs. Um, you should definitely take advantage of all that is available. And of course the beauty of the internet. Um, a lot of this information you can find on university website.
Right after this video chat. So like I said, you know, a lot of information is thankfully out there already, you know, you don’t have to wait to get something in the mail. You can always visit a university website. They always have contact [00:33:00] information available, a phone number. You can call an email address.
Uh, some universities even give virtual meetings, you know, based on information that you may need. Um, so you definitely want to take advantage of those programs if they’re available to you. Now, once you are here in the U S and you’re you’re attending university here, um, there are usually very few times, have I heard that this doesn’t exist, but they’re usually.
Dedicated personnel on university campuses dedicated to assisting international students. You may also have older international students that, that serve as mentors to new international students. And there are usually activities and clubs organized both for and by international students. So like I said, you know, being an international student in the U S is nothing new, you know?
So like I said, please don’t think that you’d be alone that, you know, you’d have no one to talk to. These frameworks are [00:34:00] usually already existed. Uh, once you attend school here in the U S all right. So let’s talk about financial aid and scholarships for international students. Does it exist? Yes. Is there a lot out there?
Not really. But they are there and they are existent and they are available. So let me start by saying that the best plan of action and I’m reading this directly, the best plan of action is to contact the university directly. Again, each has its own financial programs. Each has its own scholarships available for international students.
Each university again is its own entity and has its own programs available. So you definitely want to contact them and ask what’s available for you. So here’s some tips when thinking about scholarships, you definitely want to focus on [00:35:00] scholarships for all students. And look for that word. All not just us citizens or us rather.
You know, things available to everybody. Um, you want to also use the magic of the internet. Again, there are websites that focus on information for international students, specifically in regards to financial assistance scholarships, and also work study programs. If that’s something that you’d be interested in as well, and of course you should because they exist and they exist for a reason, um, read blogs maybe by other international students for tips and guidance on their journey.
Because if they’ve already completed the same journey that you’re on, you may find some really valuable advice there. Um, so like I said, I cannot stress that enough. Do not walk this journey alone. All right. So the student visa process, let’s talk about this. Um, there’s some times in confusion about this actual process.
So [00:36:00] here is, um, my. Point of action for how to apply for the U S student visa. So again, it is a process and involves various steps. The first one being the most important, and that is this. You have to be accepted to a university in the U S. Before you apply for student visa, you should not do them at the same time.
The visa does not come before university admission. You have to be admitted to the university first in order to seek out the process for a student visa, um, you must then complete introductory forms and those are usually available through the university. You have to pay the processing fees, right? You have to pay somebody to read your application and go through all this.
Um, then you complete the application for student visa. You must identify the nearest us embassy, the nearest consulate, um, because at that point they’re helping you with that process and you will actually have [00:37:00] an interview with them as well. So again, you will have. And interview with the university, but you may also have an interview for your student visa, with your local us embassy or consulate.
Um, and then at the end sometimes, and again, it varies by country. You may need to pay some final fees for delivery of a student visa. So like I said, um, there are many steps within the student visa process, but your first step is to be admitted to university. And then once you have that admission, then you can start applying for the student visa.
And again, a lot of this information is available through the university as well. They will help you through this process. So after all of this, you know, how can you really ensure that you have an excellent application? And again, this is for everyone, but some specific things for international students as well.
So these are [00:38:00] first and foremost, start identifying your universities of interest as soon as possible. You know, you may be working on different essays. You may be, you know, looking at what applications require, but again, all universities are different. So you’re, you may want to backtrack a little bit and create your college list first, you know?
So what universities do you want to go to? Please, uh, take into account, you know, the things that I’ve mentioned already, the location, the culture at the campus, the programs that are offered, you know, so create that list, um, as soon as possible, once you do that again, you identify the application requirements for universities of interest, and then you come start completing required essays and writing supplements.
Again, as I mentioned already, not something that should be done at the last minute. Um, productive quality writing. Doesn’t just happen, especially when it’s reflective, you know, reflective [00:39:00] writing. You’re you’re talking about memories here. Memories are not linear. Um, memories are very discombobulated sometimes.
So, you know, when you are tasked with a writing prompt, the best course of action there is to get that prompt. As soon as you can start, start thinking about it, let it live in the back of your mind for a couple of days. And then. You know, you can’t fix writing until you write it. Right. You gotta write it first.
And sometimes it’s a mess. Um, but you know, think of it as a ball of clay, you know, sculptors can turn claim to something beautiful, but they’ve got to have some clay. So, you know, think of it that way. You know, you have to have something, you have to start somewhere in order to make it into something beautiful.
So again, not something that can be rushed. Um, you also need to go ahead and identify required English language exams, um, required by your university of interest. Again, they’re all different. They may require different versions of exams, or you may be eligible for a waiver, but again, you have [00:40:00] to contact them directly.
Um, you also, if you, if you don’t have one already create either a student resume or maybe just a basic list of any awards and honors that you may have received and really U S universities look at what we call here freshman year, which is ninth grade, which is when students are about 14 or 15. So, you know, from 14, 15, You know, all the things that you’ve accomplished, both in school and out, you know, you may have received awards and honors and activities, um, sports, you know, again, maybe not all in the classroom, but all of these things are important.
You know, you want to present yourself again as the best version of yourself. So make a list of things that included extracurricular activities, community service, volunteer service, maybe even entrepreneurship. Um, I don’t know if you started maybe your own business or maybe you helped a friend or family members start a business.
Um, those are great examples of entrepreneurship, which leads to that next point. [00:41:00] Examples of leadership, um, as well as, you know, After all this, you’re also thinking about preparing for your interviews, both with university level employees and your embassy or consulate when that visa process comes time to do that.
So like I said, remember that first thing I mentioned, I said, there’s one thing in this whole presentation, time management and effective time management, let me, let me correct that effective time management. Um, everybody has a different style and we’ll get to that in just a minute. So, um, you know, what are some tips that I can offer, um, last minute tips, you know, for researching, um, you know, the university application process.
So of course make your college list as soon as you can. Again, not something that should be rushed, not something you’re going to do in one evening. Right? Um, research the application requirements, as soon as you can, again, don’t wait till the last minute be very conscious of time management. Okay. Here we [00:42:00] go.
Organization is key now. Different people. Do things different ways. Some people like to create a calendar on their wall, something they can look at every day. Some people like to use a planner, you know, a, a book style, a calendar. Some people just make a list. This is my to-do list for the day, but of course, you know, save those in case you’re not, you may not get everything done today, right.
It can go onto the next day. Um, you know, some people do reminders on their phone, although some people just swipe and forget. So, you know, you have to be very mindful of what style of organization works for you. Um, and you know, use that style wise, wisely and effectively. Um, as far as your essays, this is the minimum.
And I know it may sound like a lot, but when you are writing your essays and your supplements, you should have them revised at least three times. Um, there may be people in your life that you can, you know, bring your writing to, of course [00:43:00] yourself, you know, you can do one round of edit yourself, but I always recommend a second, if not a third set of eyes.
Um, you know, so again, who can help me with my essay who can help me edit, who can help me revise it, um, you know, maybe improve clarity or improve word choice. Um, did you stick to the topic? You know, did you address the prompt? Um, sometimes you just get so busy writing the piece that you make. Have missed, you know, the point you were trying to make.
So like I said, I definitely recommend revisions, but in order to have time to do that again, you can’t do that the night before it’s due, you know, it doesn’t work that way. Um, also you should start if, you know, once you learned that you may be required to take the English language exam, you should start preparing for that exam as well.
Because again, it’s not something that you want to have to take over and over. Um, it should be, you know, think of it as, as this, you know, Right. You know, I have to take it once and, you know, moving on, um, you should also create a financial plan. So like I said, that includes things, not only tuition, [00:44:00] but also housing, food, uh, bills, you know, gas, light, electricity, et cetera.
Um, do you want to live on campus off campus? No. Create what we call a student budget, um, or just a personal budget, you know, um, adulting 1 0 1. Um, and definitely you should seek out assistance of the adults in your lives to help you with these things. You know, because a lot of times, you know, we think of adults like, oh, you know, they’re old and they don’t do anything, but you have to report.
We’ve done this before, you know, this is one thing we, we have all paid a bill, uh, we’ve all had to pay, you know, a rent or a house payment at some point, you know, these are some things that we do know about. So you should definitely, um, start cultivating those relationships with the adults in your lives.
Um, so you can get some really great insights. You know, we have a lot to offer, you know, don’t think we don’t. Um, you should also apply for your student visa again, immediately after being accepted to U U S university. So you learn that you’ve been accepted to a university. You know, you have that acceptance [00:45:00] letter, you immediately file for your visa that day, if not the next day.
Um, because again, this process may be lengthy. Um, and again, the reason for that is because. Uh, and I hate, I hate to be a downer, but you know, sometimes you have to be a realist. Okay. So here it comes. So unfortunately, due to the pandemic, things are taking longer than they used to. Um, they may not have the personnel available to work on certain forms and processes that may be done both at the university application level and the student visa level.
So, you know, again, this is not something that you should, you know, I’m going to apply for my visa and I’ll get it, you know, in a couple of weeks that may happen. Um, but, but usually not. So again, this is something that you definitely and. The same thing that I’ve said for everything do not wait until the last minute, you know, definitely things that should be taken care of as soon as [00:46:00] possible.
But again, you cannot start that process until you’ve been accepted to a us university. Um, you can also start preparing for interviews. Um, I know some of us, um, you may not believe this, but I used to be really shy. Um, but you know, through practice and a lot of hard work, um, you know, I, I know I knew that I had something to offer.
So, you know, that may be a hurdle that you may have to address in your own life as well. Um, preparing for these interviews, preparing for making connections through camera, um, and it is very possible and I hope I’ve made some this evening. Um, you should also continue your focus on your daily. Your academics, your grades, improving your writing skill, um, being, you know, being involved in activities as much as you know, is possible at this time.
And, you know, leadership opportunities as well, you know, seek out chances that you may have opportunities that you may have, um, for leadership in [00:47:00] your life. You know, you may be able to become an officer in an activity, um, but maybe not, you know, but again, you should seek out any opportunities where they may be available.
All right. And that comes to the end of our presentation. And now it’s time for Q and a. Um, so let’s go ahead and get started with. All right. So that is the end of the presentation. Part of the webinar. Hope you found this information helpful. Remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab.
Now, moving on to this live Q and a, as Kelly just said, uh, read through the questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, uh, paste them into the public chat so everyone can see and then read them aloud so that Kelly can give us an answer. And as a heads up, if your Q and a tad was in letting you submit questions, just double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.
So let’s go ahead and get started. Um, I’ve already started pasting some [00:48:00] questions in the chat, so we are already good to go. Uh, the first question for you tonight, Kelly is, um, you know, how do I know what universities offer, uh, commerce courses and ones that are good and the requirement of grades? Okay. So big, you know, busy question.
Okay. So let me address each one individually. Okay. So the first one is. Each university is very different. It is its own entity. Um, but thankfully we live in an age of technology and you can access this information on the university’s websites. So for example, universities will have their university sites and within their university site, they have their course list, their program lists available.
Um, so again, usually a lot of this research you may be able to do on your own because those lists are readily available for students for prospective [00:49:00] students to see if this is really an institution where they would like to spend, you know, a big chunk of their time. So, you know, you can address this again individually by university to see if universities will offer that course.
Now, again, there is a difference between a course and a degree. You know, so again, you, you also need to distinguish between those two. It course is a class that you take, um, versus a degree where the classes that you are taking build up to you, gaining and being awarded a degree in that subject. Um, so like I said, two different things, but all that information is usually readily available on university websites.
They want you to find this information so should not be difficult to find. Um, also the other part of that question was, um, you know, what are. The requirements like for your grades? Um, essentially there, [00:50:00] there is no magic number. Um, you, when it, when you apply to university, it is a, what we call a holistic application.
They’re not only looking at grades. That’s why I mentioned all those different things that also come into play things like extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, um, you know, things like that, honors and awards, you know, so again, there is no set, like, oh, you have to have this GPA or, oh, you have to have this.
There are some universities that will post what they call a recommended application GPA. But essentially when you apply, you apply as an individual and your application is reviewed as an individual on an individual basis. So there may be some universities that will post no, we recommend that when applying to this university, you haven’t.
This level of a GPA. And again, they’re all very different. Again, universities are its own entity. Um, so you can look up that information, but again, also, [00:51:00] um, understand that it is a holistic application if grades are not the only thing that matters. Um, that’s why you want to make sure that you have a complete application and that you have presented and displayed, uh, all, all that you are.
All right. So the next question, uh, for you, Kelly, is, um, can you, uh, just kind of briefly, um, actually we’ll come back to that one. If we have time, um, how long would it take me to get the visa? Okay. So as far as the visa process, like I mentioned, Depending on the personnel available in your country, depending on how quickly this process can, can be completed.
It may be weeks, definitely not days, maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe many months. Um, unfortunately, uh, the pandemic really has shaken up. I used to be able to give you, um, a number, you know, [00:52:00] usually in about this many, but again, depending on the personnel that are available, um, things are taking longer than they used to.
So, um, definitely not. Don’t think of it in a span of weeks. Think about it in a span of, of months. All right. Um, okay. So is it necessary to take the sat right now for most universities I’ll admit, uh, the clients I’m working with, the universities that I’m familiar with at the moment. Um, they still have a testing optional requirement.
Now that means that you can still take the. Um, if you think that if you take it, you want to attempt it and you score a score that you are happy with, then that is optional. You can still submit that as part of your application, but as far as a requirement, most universities still have what they call a testing optional requirement.
But again, best course of action is to check the universities directly. Um, do I have to convert my grades to [00:53:00] us grades? Um, it would help it. I definitely would. Um, only because then you would also have a better idea as to, you know, for example, those, those universities that do have posted, you know, a recommended grade point average, it would be easier on you, um, in order to understand, uh, the different grading systems that we have here.
So, um, I would say yes, just to make your life a little easier. All right. When should we apply for financial aid? Uh, the CSS form in particular, before submitting the application or after. Well, it say same thing. Universities usually do things differently. Um, some universities require that you apply to them first, before you submit, uh, for financial aid.
Some universities don’t require that. Um, I recommend that you do both at the same time, just because again, if you’re [00:54:00] applying for financial aid, it helps to, you know, give them an idea of who you are. So, um, again, I recommend that, although not all universities require that. So again, it, it really does boil down to, you have to contact your universities of interest directly, or if, you know, a lot of that information is available on their websites as well.
So again, the answers are out there. You just need to seek them out, but you know, all answers are not the same for all universities. That’s why you should seek out that information from each university, um, specifically. All right. So, um, very quickly, uh, for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, the college admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike our team of over 280 admissions experts and former admissions officers already.
They help you and your family navigate at all. And one-on-one advising sessions in the most recent admission cycle. Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and [00:55:00] accepted into Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate and assignment for a free consultation with us, by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and calling the number at the top of the screen or clicking get started once you’re registered for our free web platform, you and your student can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines and search for summer opportunities.
All right there on our website. Thank you. Now, back to the Q and a, uh, the next question for you, Kelly is, um, now do some universities have acceptance rates based on how much we say we can. No, not really, um, most have acceptance rate. Again, you have to think of it this way when you’re applying, you’re applying as an individual.
So again, it is a, it is a holistic application. Now again, please understand that most universities only have so many spots. They can only fit a certain number of students within, you know, the infrastructure of the university. So there were only so many slots [00:56:00] available. Um, but again, it is based on you as the person, usually because again, money is available to assist students, pursue their dreams.
And I know that may sound very cliche, but that is the point of university is to help students achieve their dreams. So it’s not all about whether or not you can pay for it, because again, in the U S we have programs available to help students do. All right. And, uh, we’re down to the last two questions of the night.
So the first one is what are, what are the things universities consider, uh, when providing scholarships and do Ivy leagues provide 100% school. There are some Ivy leagues that do offer 100% scholarships, although they they’re different. There are certain ones that will offer a hundred percent for the first year.
Only. There are some that offer maybe for two years only. There are other universities that will ask for certain financial documents, um, to see, uh, how [00:57:00] much, um, your family may be able to help you with, and then maybe they help you with the rest. Um, but again, the same way that each university has a different application, they also have their own financial aid processes.
And you know, again, a lot of that information is available. Through university websites. Um, they also sometimes have a virtual chat option where you can speak directly with a representative from their financial aid departments. Um, I completely recommend that. I mean that if that option is available to you, I would definitely take advantage of that.
Um, because again, that is free information, um, to help students, you know, again, achieve their dreams cliche, but true. So, um, like I said, scholarships, some are what they call need-based because you need them. Because you don’t have the finances to achieve this summer, what they call merit based, which means that you’re a great student.
You have great grades, you’ve done all these activities. You’re just a great person [00:58:00] and they want to help you go further. They want to help you succeed. Um, and then we have in the U S what we call, uh, what we call private scholarships, which are scholarships that may not be available through the university, but they are available through private companies.
Um, but again, there, there are so many funds available for students. Um, you just, you just have to go out and get it. All right. And the last question of the night, do you have to commit to the university you got accepted at, you got accepted to, uh, before you can apply for a student. Um, you don’t well, see, now that that’s a sticky question, that one is maybe because again, to be accepted and to, to commit, to promise to come.
Um, sometimes for example, if you are under what they call an early admission deadline or an early decision deadline, Then they will require that you commit to attending their university. Um, whereas [00:59:00] others, you know, don’t, don’t exercise that requirement. So that is, again, student visa information is available at each university through their international student department.
So that would be a specific question for them because again, each university’s processes and as you know, again, the university is essentially vouching for you that you are applying for student visa, you know, to, to attend their school. So again, they help a lot with that process. So you would definitely want to ask the specifics of that process to see if that’s something that you may need to do.
Alrighty. Thank you so much. Um, alright, well, uh, that is the end of the webinar. Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our highly informative panelists, Kelly. Um, we had a really great time telling you about applying to schools as an international student. Uh, here is the rest of our January series.[01:00:00]
Uh, so be sure to mark these dates in your calendar and look forward to the upcoming webinars. Uh, and at this time everyone have a good evening. Have a great evening. Great day. Great afternoon. Thank you all for joining us. Take care. Bye.