Life in the USA
Education in America
Applying to College
In recent years, American colleges have seen an upward trend in the proportion of foreign students. Colleges actively encourage applications from qualified foreign students. These students tend to be high achievers in certain academic areas, and bring in needed revenue. Most colleges have departments, some quite well organized, designed to give every type of assistance to potential students from other countries. These departments assist with visas, insurance, academic advice, financial counseling, inquiries about living arrangements, cultural differences, and housing. Given the immense help offices like these can provide, it would seem advisable for foreign students to concentrate their admissions strategies on colleges that actively encourage foreign students to apply. Look on any college or university website under “Admissions” to drill down and find information for international students. If it is not there, or if it lacks detail, the best bet might be to move on to another prospective school.
Admissions requirements for international students will be largely similar to those for American-born students, with a few extra administrative details, of course. Note that the SAT test is given in many locations outside the United States, although not as frequently. The TOEFL test for English language ability is also a usual requirement. If your home country has a centrally administered national college examination, you might need to arrange to have the grades sent directly from the administering body to the college admissions office. The same holds true for your transcripts, which includes not only grades (and rank in class) but also descriptions of all the courses you took in secondary school. Whether or not you will need to arrange for translation of the documents depends on your native language. If in doubt, ask the international student office.
In dealing with financial matters, foreign students must often go through a step not usually required for domestic students in that they must submit information, often on a special form, that verifies that they have enough funds to cover four years of tuition and expenses at the college. If they wish to apply for financial aid, they usually must do so on the initial application, often on a special form for international students.
As with other aspects of the application process, leave plenty of time for all details, and ask questions to clarify any procedure you do not understand.
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