College admissions counseling for international students can be an invaluable help in navigating the challenging admissions process. Thousands of students all over the world seek a new adventure by applying to colleges abroad, but most struggle to figure out all the nitty-gritty details of college requirements, such as college essays or prerequisite courses. This is why getting professional help is so important for your success as an international student. In this article, we discuss the benefits of admissions counseling for international students and go over the ways consultants can help you navigate the difficult admissions processes.
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Why International Students Need Admissions Consulting
Being an international applicant, and consequently student, is not easy. Along with the language barrier and culture shock, you are competing with thousands of applicants to your chosen universities from all over the world. On top of this, you'll need to navigate potentially unfamiliar application processes and eligibility factors while juggling your preparations to move abroad.
If you're wondering how to study in the US as an international student or want to know how to apply to university in Canada as an international student, be prepared for a competitive admissions pool. The US, Canada and the UK are some of the top locations for international students who want to study abroad. It’s quite difficult to calculate the overall acceptance rate of international students in the US and Canada because every school has its own quotas and requirements. For example, UC Berkley accepts about 9.14% of their international applicants, Harvard accepts about 14.8% of international applicants, while the University of Toronto usually accepts just over 40% of international applicants. Every school is different, but the admissions process is challenging no matter which school you choose to apply to.
Truth be told, even if you are not an international student, college applications are hard to plan and execute. Along with navigating the multiple application systems, such as Common App, Coalition App, or the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC), you must carefully research and understand all the requirements you must meet to simply qualify for application, let alone get in. This is the reason local students in the US, Canada or the UK often reach out to college and university admissions consulting for help.
For international students, this process is even more challenging because they might be less familiar with the process. For example, standardized tests are very popular in some countries, while they may be completely absent in others. In addition to simply researching which schools they may want to apply to, international students must carefully study what kind of requirements they need to complete to be eligible applicants, such as coursework, references, language tests, standardized tests, and so on. This means that they have to start planning their college career long before they start their application.
This is why college admissions counseling can be especially beneficial for international students. Not only can they help you plan your journey to college, but they will help you set up for success early on, by advising you which prerequisites you should pick for your chosen disciplines or help you find colleges where you would be a competitive candidate. Furthermore, they can help you keep track of the application timelines and various components you have to submit throughout your journey. But, let’s talk about this in more detail below.
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How College Admissions Counseling Helps International Students
Now that you know what you can expect from the application process, let’s review the exact ways college admissions counseling for international students can help you navigate this journey.
#1: Pre-Application Phase
The pre-application phase is just as important for your success as the application. Different educational systems have different requirements and expectations, and while you may be familiar with the requirements in your country, a foreign system may be completely different.
Almost all colleges in the US, Canada, the UK, or Australia expect students to complete certain prerequisite, high school courses. Most want to see 4 years of English, a few years of math, some physical and social science courses, and so on. Plus, every college department may also set a list of courses related to their discipline, so if you are looking to pursue Computer Science, you should have some secondary courses in this field. Furthermore, you should be getting a minimum grade in these classes to be an eligible candidate. Each college and department will have its own set minimum GPA requirement that all students have to meet.
Keeping tabs on this is just the first step. The items listed above are just the minimum you have to meet to qualify to apply. To be above the average applicant that admissions committees see over and over again, you must stand out in your applications, which requires you to go beyond the minimum expectations.
For example, some colleges in the US and Canada really value International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses, or IB and AP courses. However, these types of secondary classes are not available everywhere. If you dream of attending one of the Ivy League schools or UC schools, you might want to research the availability of these secondary options near you. If you want to learn how to study in the UK as an international student, be aware that there are different standardized tests you may need to take as well as an English Language Proficiency test.
A consultant can help you navigate which courses you should take. For example, if your dream is to attend a biochemistry program somewhere in Ontario, an international student advisor will know exactly the kind of courses you can take and what else you can do to make sure you stand out. For example, they can help you find a summer program for high school students that would get you a quality experience in a biochemistry lab. Or they can help you find a conference where you can present a paper on your chosen speech topic. These are all the items you can start working on during the pre-application phase – they will help you bolster your CV and gain valuable skills and experiences that will help you stand out.
While you can certainly try finding these opportunities and courses on your own, having college admissions counseling for international students will make the process of research and application easy. Plus, they can ensure that whatever course you decide to take or whatever program you choose to enroll in will be beneficial for the discipline and college programs you want to pursue.
#2: Standardized Tests
Standardized tests like SAT and ACT are intimidating for all students, whether they are international or local. The volume of information that is covered on these tests is overwhelming. But international students have some additional challenges when it comes to these tests:
While some of these obstacles will have to be overcome by you solely, an international student advisor can help you with what test to choose and how to prepare for it. A quality advisor will be able to identify whether the SAT or the ACT is better for you. For example, both tests assess your knowledge of secondary-level math, but the ACT includes more geometry and trigonometry questions, as well as a larger math section in general. The SAT provides examinees with mathematical formulas, while students writing the ACT must memorize them. The ACT allows a calculator during the math section, while the SAT does not allow a calculator. The ACT has an additional science section, while the SAT does not test your science knowledge. So, an advisor will be able to help you choose the test that you would do best in.
Secondly, they can help you strategize your study plan and make sure you cover all the required material. In addition to helping you find study materials for the tests, they will help you design a personalized study schedule that will help you stay on track. By completing an initial practice test for assessment purposes, you and your advisor will identify which knowledge areas need more review, which topics you have to start from scratch, and which topics you are an expert in. This will help you create a study plan. Your advisor will regularly check your progress and keep you accountable for your plan.
#3: College List
Not every college is the right fit for you. Some schools do not even accept international students, though these are rare. The college list you create should be composed of schools you truly want to attend, but it should also be realistic. For example, if you dream of studying in California and attending Berkley, but your GPA is not 3.9, you might want to reconsider wasting your application fee on this school.
Choosing the right schools to apply to will not only mean a good fit for you as a student, but it will increase your chances of getting accepted. But researching hundreds of schools and choosing the right ones to apply to is a difficult and time-consuming task. An advisor can help you narrow down the schools where your statistics will not only be accepted but where they will impress.
Furthermore, you should keep in mind that statistics are not everything. Most colleges test to do a holistic review of their applicants, which means that your educational background beyond courses and grades is also considered. This includes any additional programs or courses you did outside of school, your extracurricular activities, your volunteer background, your hobbies, and so on. Most schools require the completion of an activities section, such as the Common App Activities Section, where you can include all the skills and experiences that make you the perfect candidate. Knowing which experiences to include for your chosen schools is also tough but knowing how to present and describe them is even tougher – this is where an advisor is your best friend. They can not only help you choose the most relevant experiences but also help you write the description of these activities that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the admissions committee of the schools you chose to apply to.
Looking for more on the common app activities section? Check this out:
#4: Admission Essays
Admissions essays are required by most programs in the US. Almost all application systems require the submission of an essay, such as the Common App essay. Additionally, some schools require the submission of supplemental college application essays. In Canada, this admissions requirement is less common, but it is a staple for some of the most competitive programs. Furthermore, even if a program does not require a full-length essay, they may require short essays or answers in written form.
These essays are a challenge for many reasons. Firstly, whether you are an international or local applicant, writing a compelling narrative is hard. Secondly, writing about yourself is even harder. The second is perhaps the biggest challenge the students face. The prompts for these essays are open-ended and general enough for you to discuss yourself, your achievements, your limitations. But have you ever had to construct a narrative like this before? This is why many students turn to essay tutors and advisors for help.
Keep in mind that a good advisor will not write your essay for you – that’s not what they are here for. A good advisor will help you brainstorm and create a narrative about you and your experiences that will show the admissions committee that you are the right candidate for their program. Do yourself a favor and take this as an opportunity to learn not only better written communication skills but how to reflect and think critically. Writing a research paper for a class is a great skill to have, and hopefully, that's a skill you were taught in school. But writing about yourself objectively and compellingly is an art of its own. Most of us do not learn this skill until we are faced with college or job applications. Unfortunately, most of us do not master this skill until after many applications like these. An advisor can help you hone and develop this skill early on in your educational and professional career. These experts have helped thousands of students craft their stories, so take full advantage of this opportunity and learn.
#5: Application Timeline and Components
If you are not using unified application systems like OUAC, then you will have dozens of application components to keep track of for different schools. And truth be told, even if you are using unified application systems, the number of components and the deadlines are hard to keep up with.
College admissions counseling for international students will help you with keeping track of what documents should be submitted when. They will set your reminders and help you get ahead of every other applicant. Furthermore, they will help you with getting components that are time-sensitive but are not always in your control. For example, they will provide you with an ideal timeline for ordering your transcripts from your school and translating them, if necessary. They will help you identify the best possible references for your application and remind you when to follow up with them to make sure your references are submitted on time. If your schools have any secondary application components, you need to make sure you prepare and submit them on time. Furthermore, an advisor can remind you of any other deadlines coming up, such as housing applications, financial help applications, and more! All of these details can really stress you out, especially when you do not know the admissions process very well.
While it is possible to do this on your own, why not make this tedious process easier for yourself by getting help from an advisor?
#6: College Interview
Preparing your application is one thing - you can take your time to brainstorm, draft and redraft, and finalize your components. This can take weeks. Interviews are very different. You will not have weeks, days, hours, or even minutes to come up with strong answers to college admissions interview questions. If your school conducts admissions interviews, then you must properly prepare for this hurdle.
An advisor can not only help you practice answer strategies for common questions, but they can also help you prepare for the interview format and interview behavior that will be expected of you. Even if it’s a video interview, there is certain professional interview etiquette that you must follow. This goes for all applicants, international and local.
#7: Financial Aid
College tuition fees are overwhelming for all students, but most colleges have higher tuition fees for international applicants. Fortunately, there are funding opportunities available for international applicants. They can be internal (via the university itself) and external (government funding or private funding). A great advisor can help you find the opportunities you are eligible for and make sure you qualify.
As most of these applications also have written components, you might also use the help of an international student scholarship consultant in crafting a catchy grant or scholarship application.
Interested in some college application tips? This video is for you:
How to Choose the Best College Admissions Consultant
Now that you know what kind of help you can expect, let’s go over the qualities you should be looking for in your advisor.
We are not at all saying that every international student needs college admissions counseling. But we are saying that this help will make the process of application, interview, and transition easier. Furthermore, it will help you gain knowledge and skills you will find useful during and after your transition to a new country. In short, college admissions counseling for international students can be worth the investment to ensure you get into the program of your choice and have the support, advice and help you need to get accepted and excel in your studies.
1. What is college admissions counseling for international students?
College admissions counseling services for international students helps them prepare, apply, and transition to colleges and universities abroad by walking them through the application process, coaching them on application requirements and helping them build the strongest possible application.
2. Does college admissions counseling complete my application for me?
No. They guide you along the way and help you prepare the best application, but you will be the sole author of your application.
3. What kind of services can I expect?
College admission counselors and advisors can help you with the pre-application stage, including taking the right courses and extracurriculars, studying for standardized tests, creating a school list, your application essays, interview prep, financial aid applications, and more.
4. What should I look for in my admissions consultant?
The advisor should be an experienced admissions expert who has helped other international and domestic students get into their dream schools. They should provide you with one-on-one consultations and personalized feedback.
5. When should I start my preparations for college abroad?
It should start in the early stages in high school, to ensure that you take the appropriate courses and enroll in quality extracurricular experiences. It's best to start early so you have enough time to complete an application and arrange any visa and travel arrangements you'll need to go abroad. If you're a recent graduate, there's still time to talk to a college admissions consultant and start your journey to studying abroad, but it may mean you are applying in the next year's application cycle.
6. How can college admissions counseling for international students ensure I get accepted?
These experts have helped hundreds of students, so they can identify the schools where you would be the best fit and how you can impress these schools.
7. Can I get into college as an international student without an international school advisor?
Yes, you can, but it is a laborious and challenging process. Using an advisor would essentially guarantee your acceptance, so all the money you spend on applications would not go to waste. If you go through the process alone and do not get in, you will have to identify what went wrong (which is a hard thing to do) and resubmit your application and fees.
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