Welcome back! Today is going to be all about applying to College as an international student! I just finished my application process for spring admission 2020 (YES I will actually be going to college soon!!) and wanted to share all my tips with you guys, about how I applied for US colleges as a Swiss citizen.
PS: I got accepted to all the universities I applied to, so I hope this guide will get you admitted as well!
Here is the video if you rather watch instead of reading:) (there are a few things I didn’t mention though that are in this blog post)
Table of Contents
1. FIND YOUR “WHAT” AND “WHY”
First, you need to figure out what you want to go to college for. It is 2019, and college isn’t something you necessarily need to be successful in life and your business unless you want to become a doctor or another profession that requires a degree.
Whatever reasons you have, it helps to write it down. Do you need to go abroad for that? Is it something you can study in your own country?
So for me, the idea of studying in the US didn’t even come to me until I was almost finished with my High School Diploma. I was trying to figure out what to do after my diploma, and I was going back and forth between traveling, learning about businesses and starting my own, or going to school.
I wanted to start my own business, and have already, but something is missing. Yes, it all comes with experience, but I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually learn about it.
So I decided that I wanted to study entrepreneurship AND photography. And guess what..in Europe, no university has all the schools (universities are either school of business or school of arts, etc), especially the ones offered in English.
With my criteria, which were 1. Studying in English, and 2. Business & Art school in one university, I researched schools, and found them in the US!
So for me, what was my major and minor, and my why was the above-stated circumstances.
2. WHERE TO GO TO COLLEGE
The next thing we’re looking into is the location of the schools. Where would you like to go? For me, it got pretty clear, that the best schools for me were in the USA, but it is your choice where you go.
Many European universities are taught in English and are much cheaper than the US, but you should consider your major and where it makes the most sense.
For me, I studied abroad in the US before and loved it, so I’m less scared of traveling far and being away for a long time from my country. Even if you haven’t been to the place you will be studying at, don’t worry, it’s gonna be amazing!
3. FIND SCHOOLS
Our next step in our applying to college as an international student guide will be to find schools that offer your major.
That can take some time, but hey, you’re investing in your future!
4. CREATE A UNIVERSITY CHART
Aright, this is what I did. I create a chart with the following boxes:
- Name of the University
- Name of favorite major
- Annual cost
- Acceptance rate
- Admission requirements
- my personal rating + reason
Here is an example of how I structured my chart:
Based on my chart, where I collected approx. 15 schools, I crossed out every school below an 8-rating and kept about 5 schools I liked.
After that, you can research more about the school and if you think it’s a good fit, you can add it to your good-schools list, if you want to make one like that.
5. RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS
For the US, the typical requirements are:
- TOEFL test (English proficiency test)
- Final and official transcripts
- Your diploma
- SAT/ACT scores
- A minimum GPA
- Recommendation letters of your counselor, sometimes teachers too
If you go to a university in Europe, you probably won’t need SAT scores, and not all schools in the US require SAT scores from international students, but as I said, that’s why we do research.
Make sure to be early enough, because taking those tests (including studying for them) and getting your scores delivered takes a lot of time.
To find out if there is a testing center for the SAT in your area, here is a code list for international students by CollegeBoard.
For the TOEFL test, which almost all English-teaching universities accept, you can look for your country here.
Of course, you will have to check the application times and deadlines first, but I would recommend applying as soon as it’s possible.
For me, I was ready to apply in June but found out that applications won’t open until August, so I had to wait. But that’s okay since it’s nothing you can do about it other than improve your essays and get everything ready.
An application usually costs between $50 and $100, so keep in mind to apply to schools you would actually love to go to, to avoid wasting money on applications to schools you won’t even attend if accepted.
Applications are usually on a separate page of the school, or the Common App, where you can apply to schools all at once without having to complete the same sections multiple times.
You will need to submit everything I listed above (the requirements), then you will need your counselor to fill out part of the Common Application.
When you are ready to submit, you pay the fee.
Most of the schools require essays to specific prompts or your own topic. I personally talked about why I choose my major and how I will use it to “make the world a better place”.
You will definitely want to sound inspiring and give your application a “flow”. Mentioning many different things can look very confusing and undetermined to colleges.
Rather leave out unimportant things to make your application be more cohesive. But the best tip I can give you is to be yourself and not pretend to be someone else you actually are not.
7. MAKE MONEY/ APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
If you need to work some more to pay your tuition, you can look for a job or do online side hustles to make money for your school.
If you want to apply to scholarships to fund your education, you can use these scholarship sites to find scholarships you’re eligible for. I must say, the majority of them are for US citizens, but there are some good ones for internationals as well.
8. AFTER ACCEPTANCE
First, enjoy the moments of getting your acceptance letters!
Usually, they tell you on the student portal or in the mail what your next steps are. That normally includes a financial statement, missing documents, and filling out of documents for your visa.
Before that all happens, you’ll need to pick a school though unless you applied to only one college. That can be a little hard, so I recommend to look up final information online, maybe contact a few students who go there. You can do that through Instagram, Facebook, or ZeeMee, and then write down what you really want in a school.
After you told your new school that you accept their offer of admission, you can start with the final documents.
Your school will be your “sponsor” for your visa (if you need one) so they need you to fill out some stuff before they can give you the document. You will use that to make an interview appointment at your embassy.
Getting a visa is the last step in applying to college as an international student. When that is done, your education in your chosen school is finally secured!
A good thing to ask would be move-in day and orientation information, so you know when to arrive.
Need a packing list for college? I made mine into a downloadable checklist! It includes all categories, whether you take it with you from home or buy it there.
And that’s it, y’all! I hope this “applying to college as an international student” guide helped you with the process!!
Let me know if you need any help, and comment what schools you’re applying to!