College Admissions

View From Campus: How to Research U.S. College Options

Grinnell College, IA, USA

 

This month, Jonathan Edwards, Senior Associate Director of Admission, Grinnell College in Iowa, USA, discusses how international students can best approach finding the college or university in the United States that is right for them.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words?

Open, rigorous, independent, liberal, diverse

 

What is your institution best known for overseas?

We’re known as a small school with a big heart that offers a rigorous, innovative curriculum in an environment that fosters intellectual and social independence.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?

Economics, Math, English, Computer Science, Psychology

 

What are the top five countries represented at your college?

China, India, South Korean, Vietnam, and Japan are the best represented at Grinnell. Non-US students comprise 20 percent of total enrollment.

 

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the Admission Process?

We require proof of high-level English language competency. IELTS scores help us best understand an applicant’s English proficiency.

 

How far ahead should students start the planning process if they are planning to come to the U.S. for study?

I would say at least 2-3 years in order to prepare for required standardized tests,  as well as to do the research to find the schools that best suit them.

 

If international students come across self-described “liberal arts colleges” in their search what do they need to know about these institutions?            

Liberal arts colleges don’t typically offer one path to a particular career goal. We are more interested in helping students, who are still at an age of discovery, to explore their options, affinities, and passions.

They continue to develop the critical skill sets, work ethic, and compassion that will afford them a rewarding life, not only a rewarding job. This is why liberal arts schools encourage broad, inquiry-based learning in small, diverse, residential environments.

 

What kinds of students can be successful at liberal arts colleges in the United States?

Those that are curious, motivated, critical, and adaptable.

View From Campus: U.S. College Applications Explained

Santa Clara University, California

This month, Rosalie Saladzis, Assistant Director of International Admission at Santa Clara University in California, shares a brief overview of her institution, her views on the value of IELTS in evaluating students’ English readiness for university study, as well as an overview of the U.S. college application process.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words or less:

Innovative, Collaborative, Compassionate, Beautiful!

 

What is your institution known for abroad?

Santa Clara University is known as a mid-sized private liberal arts institution located in the heart of Silicon Valley that blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in a Jesuit education tradition.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergraduate) 

As a comprehensive liberal arts school, students can study business or engineering while not giving up their passion for the arts. Our Leavey School of Business majors such as Finance or Accounting are popular amongst undergraduate students.  Minors like Entrepreneurship and International Business are popular across the entire student body.

Within our School of Engineering some of our more popular programs are Computer Science and Engineering or Bioengineering.  The hallmark of our engineering education is a solid foundation of theory and practice that is imparted on each student. Besides developing technical skills for the workplace, SCU engineering also focuses on the development of the whole person, and incorporates a broad liberal arts-based general education into its curriculum. The idea of engineering for the betterment of society is at the core of our programs.

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college? 

India, China, Japan, Singapore, Philippines

 

How international is your institution? 

4% of our student population is international, coming from 44 different countries.

 

Do you accept IELTS scores for admissions and do you trust this as a good indicator of a student’s English ability? 

Santa Clara University requires proof of English proficiency.  To be considered for admission, we accept IELTS as a strong indicator of English ability.

 

Can you explain the difference between rolling admissions, early decision, early action, and regular decision at U.S. colleges?  

  • Rolling admissions permits students to submit their applications to the University anytime within a designated window. The average duration of time students are eligible to submit their rolling application is 6 months, while other Universities may indicate their intent to accept applications until the class is filled.   Students can expect to receive a decision within a few weeks of applying under rolling admissions.

 

  • Early decision programs are usually binding. ‘Binding’ means that the applicant is committing to enrolling at the university if they are offered admission.  The ED option is for students who have decided that a specific university is their first choice.  You may not submit Early Decision applications to more than one institution.  Students may apply to other Early Action programs, but must agree to promptly withdraw their applications from all other institutions if admitted into their Early Decision school.

 

  • Early Action is a non-binding admission program that allows you to get an admission decision sooner. Admission decisions may include: ‘admit’, ‘deferred to regular decision’ or ‘denied’.  Early action applicants are not limited to applying to just one University.

**Please note that Santa Clara University only offers rolling admissions for transfer applicants.

 

What are institutions looking for in an application essay/statement of purpose? 

Institutions are looking for students who are capable of writing at a university level.  It’s important that an applicant’s writing sample is grammatically correct and persuasive.  I encourage students to utilize the personal essay as an opportunity to share more about what’s important to them and how they may be a good fit for our campus community.

 

How important are deadlines in the admission process to U.S. institutions?   

Meeting application deadlines for U.S. institutions is very important.  By meeting the assigned deadline, students demonstrate that they are organized and serious about the possibility of attending their institution.

SCU utilizes Common Application.  Our application is open and available for students to begin completing as early as August 1st.  The postmark deadline for early decision/early action applicants is November 1st.  Regular decision applicants have a postmark deadline of January 7th.

 

What needs to be in a letter of recommendation that my teachers/professors are asked to write?  

Strong letters of recommendation include details regarding academic achievement, how the student engages in a classroom environment, work ethic and character.

 

Once a student sends in all the required documents to complete their application, how soon after that point will he/she receive an answer?  

Students can expect to receive an admissions decision around 2 months after the application deadline.

View From Campus: Adjusting to Life at a U.S. University

Susquehanna University, USA

 

This month, James Goonan, Director of International Admissions at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, USA shares his thoughts on the often overlooked topic of academic adjustment to life on a U.S. college campus for international students.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words?

  • selective
  • residential
  • national
  • liberal arts

 

For what is your institution best known overseas?

Susquehanna University ranks No. 15 among the top 30 most affordable colleges with the best study abroad programs in the nation, according to Great Value Colleges (GVC).  And, we are ranked #1 in PA and #9 nationally for getting a job after graduation.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?

We are undergraduate only. Our top majors are Business (AACSB Accredited), Susquehanna has one of only two undergraduate liberal arts colleges in North America that have been accepted into the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Recognition program. The Publishing & Editing Major is one of the best in the US and ranks #9.

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?

Saudi Arabia, China, Macao, Japan, Brazil.

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

IELTS is used to evaluate English language proficiency for applicants from countries where English is not the native language.  The normal entry requirement is 6.0 for degree programs.  IELTS is also used for placement in our English Language Learners program.

 

What is the most common challenge new international students face when adapting to the academic environment at U.S. colleges?

Cultural differences.  Our customs are different; school system is different, language is different, and students are expected to be more independent than they might be at home.

 

How much time should students be studying for each class they have?

We recommend that students plan to study 2 to 3 hours for every hour in the classroom.

 

How is the classroom style of professors so different in the U.S. from what most students have experienced back home?

Students on our campus are expected to be engaged and independent learners.  In addition, they are expected to participate in class, question their professors, and take responsibility for their own academic progress.  This atmosphere can be much different than their home countries, where instruction can be more lecture based there and students usually do not question their professors.

 

 

How can international students best prepare to avoid potential problems with adapting to their new academic environment on campus?

We recommend that entering international students participate in a pre-departure orientation in their home country.  These are provided by their local EducationUSA offices.  And, once on campus, the university offers a mandatory Orientation for new International Students.  The most important topics of concern and covered during the orientation.

 

 

The View From Campus: An American Welcome for International Students

Ohio University

 

This month, we hear from Vicki Seefeldt-West, Senior Assistant Director for International Recruitment, Undergraduate Admissions at Ohio University, how welcoming are U.S. college campuses to international students.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words?

  • Historic
  • Comprehensive
  • Research-oriented
  • Picturesque
  • Welcoming

What is your institution best known for overseas?

Ohio University has a global reputation for our wide variety of academic programs, excellence in teaching and research, emphasis on hands-on, practical experiences, and high-ranking programs such as journalism and business.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?

Undergraduate: Biological Sciences, Journalism, Psychology, Media Arts & Studies, Nursing

Graduate: Health Administration, Recreation & Sports Pedagogy, Sports Administration, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Curriculum & Instruction

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?

  1. China
  2. Saudi Arabia
  3. India
  4. Iran
  5. Ghana

Ohio University admitted its first international student in 1895. Currently, over 1500 international students from more than 100 different countries call Ohio their second home.

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

IELTS is one of the few methods Ohio uses to evaluate students’ English proficiency, which is critical to their success in an undergraduate or graduate degree program.

 

How Welcome Are International Students? 

International students are most definitely welcome in the U.S. In fact, a group of U.S. congressional members recently issued a statement into congressional record supporting international students and scholars. As an international student, you will find that college campuses, in particular, are not only welcoming, but proud to be home to students from around the globe.

 

What steps do universities take to help international students feel welcome on campus?

Most universities make special efforts to welcome international students to their campuses. For example, schools such as Ohio University have groups of current international students available to answer questions before new students arrive, as well as act as mentors once the students are on campus. Admissions offices take extra steps to make certain international students are equipped with the specialized information they require. Many institutions like OHIO offer an international student orientation to make incoming international students comfortable in their new surroundings and to acquaint them with academics, student services, etc.

 

How seriously do U.S institutions value having international students on campus? 

Most institutions in the U.S. are very committed to having diverse student bodies which represent as much of the world as possible. One great example of this is the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, featuring videos produced by a growing number of U.S. universities, which is “…a message of welcome from U.S. higher education to international students around the world.”

Universities also demonstrate their dedication through the amount of resources they invest in bringing more international students to their campuses. At Ohio University, for example, representatives travel world-wide to inform students about the university and all it has to offer them. We have specialists in our admissions office who can work with international transcripts, and a dedicated office to provide support services to international students.

 

 

What is the role of an international student office on campus?

International student offices play a primary role in supporting international students at their universities. Generally speaking, it is the office that provides information and assistance on immigration matters. They may act as a liaison to other support offices on campus, and as a connection with the greater campus community. Additionally, they can serve as a link to public services outside the university. Basically, they are there to help support you in your transition to life at a U.S. university!

Why IELTS Is Your Ticket To The World

Image courtesy of i naina _94 via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

English is spoken at a useful level by a quarter of the world population. That’s over one and a half billion people.

It’s the world’s language of exchange, communication and business – to just a name a few areas. So, to speak English is to open yourself up to a world of opportunities.

If you’re planning to live, work or study using English you will often need to prove your ability to use it.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language test. More than 10,000 organisations in 140 countries accept IELTS, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies

More than 2.9 million IELTS tests around the world are taken each year.

Taking IELTS opens doors. It can help you live, study and work around the world, including USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

IELTS assesses all of your English skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is designed to reflect how you will use English at study, at work, and at play, in your new life abroad.

Employers and universities want you to be able to use English in the real world, so IELTS is what you will need to prove it.

IELTS is the most widely accepted English language test that uses a one-on-one speaking test to assess your English communication skills. This means that you are assessed by having a real-life conversation with a real person. This is the most effective and natural way of testing your English conversation skills.

Whatever your plans in the world, IELTS will help you achieve them.

The View From Campus: 10 US Student Visa Tips

Image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr (CC 2.0)

Everyone has heard a story (or two) of a friend, or friend of a friend, who has been denied a student visa to study in the U.S., right? Well, the truth is, that over the last five years, the global average of students being approved for a U.S. student visa (F-1) has been over 80 percent.

The good news is with the right preparation, honest answers, and appropriate documentation you can give yourself an excellent chance of being granted a student visa.

 

Here are the ten steps you will need to take:
10. Got your I-20? Make sure you have received the I-20 & admission letter from the college/university you plan to attend. You may have been accepted and received I-20s from more than one school. We recommend that you make a decision as to which institution you will attend before starting the visa process.

9. Check your passport:
• Make sure your passport will be valid for at least six months after your initial planned entry into the U.S.
• Is your name spelled the same (and in the same order) as is listed on your passport? It has to be!

8. Pay your SEVIS fee. Students can pay this fee online. You will need an e-receipt for next steps in the process.

7. Complete the Visa Application Form online DS-160 (non-immigrant visa application). You will need most of the following items to complete this form:
• Passport
• SEVIS ID (from your I-20 form)
• Address of the college you will attend (usually on the I-20)
• Travel itinerary to the U.S. if you have made arrangements already
• Admission letter from the college you will attend
• Proof of funding – bank statements, scholarship award letters, etc.
• Dates of your last five visits to the United States (if any)

6. Plan ahead! You can schedule your visa appointment up to 120 days in advance of the start date listed on your I-20 (when your new school requires you to be on campus).

5. Schedule your visa appointment at the U.S. embassy/consulate nearest you. You will also need to pay the visa application fee (approximately $160, price varies slightly per country).

4. Attend a Visa Session at an EducationUSA Advising Center in your country. At these sessions they will make it clear what they are expecting from successful student visa applicants, and the kind of questions they will ask.

3. Enjoy the experience. A couple years ago our friends at the U.S. Embassy in London put together a great video to help ease your fears, Mission: Possible – Get Your U.S. Student Visa.

2. Talk to your friends. Are any of your former classmates studying in the U.S. now? Ask their advice about their interview experiences and ask for their recommendations.

1. Breathe, relax, and be honest. You have invested a lot of time, energy, and resources to get to this visa interview. Try not to be too nervous. You are almost there.

 

Good luck to you as you take this important next step!

 

The View From Campus: Entering Work

 

In this month’s instalment of The View From Campus, Rasana Pradhan, a master’s degree student in environmental safety & health management at University of Findlay, talks about her plans for after graduation.

 

After studying for two years, it’s time for me to graduate. This feeling of leaving behind my friends, professors, supervisors and colleagues tears me up, but life moves on.

 

After I graduate my life will be totally different, I will have to adjust in a new environment with new people – it will be a new beginning. As soon as I graduate, I will have to find a new job. My university has been very supportive and always comes up with different events for international students with job placement opportunities.

 

As international students on F-1 student visas, after completing two semesters of study we can apply for curricular practical training (CPT) and work as full or part-time interns in companies. Once graduated, students can apply for optional practical training (OPT) to be eligible to work in their related field. For students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) the OPT session is for a period of 3 years and for others it is 1 year.

 

Findlay has a Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) on campus for helping students apply for internships and jobs. This center holds job fairs and professional development workshops providing a platform for the students to find internships and jobs. Many pre-eminent companies come to recruit new employees and many students secure internships and jobs from these fairs. CCPD also organize mock interviews to help student face real interviews in the future. Professional development workshops and these mock interview sessions provide useful tips and train students about finding jobs and facing interviews in the correct way.

 

I truly feel my university helps students find excellent jobs after they graduate. I hope to have positive news soon!

The View From Campus – “I’ve Been Admitted, Now What Do I Do?”

 

This month’s article features Heather Augar, Director of International Admissions, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)

 

Describe your institution in five words?

  • Global
  • Diverse
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Student-oriented
  • Affordable

 

What is FDU best known for overseas?

FDU prepares students to succeed in a world marked by interdependence, diversity, and change by integrating global education in all phases of university life.

 

New Jersey’s largest private university, FDU has campuses in the metropolitan New York City area; Vancouver, Canada; and Wroxton, England. Over 100 BA, MA and PhD degree programs are offered in our four academic colleges.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?

Undergraduate: Business, Engineering/Computer Sciences, Sciences, Liberal Arts, Hospitality Management, Theater, Filmmaking

Graduate: Engineering/Computer Sciences, MBA/Business, Hospitality Management, Public Administration, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Psychology

 

What are the top five countries represented at FDU?

  • India
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea
  • Canada

As of fall 2015, FDU had 1,703 international students from more than 80 countries out of our total population of 12,000 students at our two campuses in New Jersey.

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

IELTS has become one of the most frequent tests submitted and is widely accepted amongst U.S. universities as proof of English proficiency, as it is as FDU.

 

 

Post-Admissions Next Steps

If international students are admitted to more than one institution, what are the most important next steps they should take?

Students should carefully check their letters of admission to verify the date by which they must confirm their intent to enroll. For most students applying to U.S. universities for the fall term, this will be May 1. However, universities with spring or multiple terms as well as those with rolling admissions may have different confirmation deadlines.

Once the final university choice has been made, students must contact the other universities that they’ve applied or been admitted to in order to inform them that they no longer plan to attend.

 

What advice would you give to students making their final decision where to attend?

It is important to do as much research as possible. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with faculty, staff, current students and alumni of the university whether in person or via social media.

Make sure that the final decision is the university that is the best match-academically, financially and socially.

 

Can international students receive financial aid from U.S. universities?

Many U.S. universities, including Fairleigh Dickinson, offer scholarships and other types of aid to international students. It is important to do research about each university of interest to learn what types of scholarships or aid programs are available.

 

Is a deposit needed to secure a place at the college or university students choose?

This varies by the institution. In some cases, a financial deposit is required to confirm enrollment. In other cases, a matriculation/intent to enroll form is required without a monetary deposit. It is important to read admission materials carefully to learn what is required and the deadlines for submission.

What is an I-20, and how can international students get theirs?

An I-20 is also known as a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status. It is a document issued by a Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) approved U.S. educational institution certifying that a student has been admitted into a full-time study program and that they have demonstrated sufficient financial resources.

Students who have obtained an I-20 form are eligible to apply for a non-immigrant student visa to the U.S. Some U.S. universities issue the I-20 at the time of admission whereas others issue this upon confirmation of intent to enroll.

Deike’s Story: Globetrotting With IELTS

IELTS Award winner Deike (right) tells us about her work, experiences abroad and study goals.

Congratulations on winning your IELTS Award! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background? Where are you from and what are you studying or working on at the moment?

Deike: I’m from the northern part of Germany; I was born in East Friesland which is where the name Deike is from. It’s quite an unusual name that even most Germans have never heard of. I have a background in medicine, more specifically in paediatrics. I always knew that I wanted to work with children, so after completing my degree in Medicine at the Medical School Münster, I specialised in paediatrics, working with children with cancer. After a year, I was given the opportunity to go abroad to work in a hospital in Peru for four months which was a great and intense experience. As this project was developing so well, we decided to do another project to help children in Myanmar. We worked in a hospital there with local doctors to identify the most pressing needs. We found that the main problem was incorrect diagnoses, leading to wrong treatments. We tried to help by sending a specialist over to train the doctors in diagnostics which made a huge difference. I then went to Africa with the organisation German DoctorsOpens in a new tab or window. to work in the second biggest slum in Nairobi, treating babies and young children. This experience has had a tremendous impact on my life and my ambition to help more children through structural changes in the healthcare system.

How did you find out about IELTS and this Awards programme?

Deike: The study programme I wanted to apply for required proof of English language proficiency. I compared different language tests and decided on IELTS as it is globally recognised and had a test centre near my hometown of Oldenburg. I found out about the IELTS Award while checking the British Council Germany website for information about the IELTS test.

You’ve already told us a bit about your work with children in Germany and abroad. Will this be the focus of your studies?

Deike: I doing a Master in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineOpens in a new tab or window.. The reason for doing this is that after all my experience in working with children in Africa, Myanmar, Peru and at home, what I felt I really wanted to do was not only help single children with acute problems, such as malnutrition, but to get to the cause of the problems and help change these, in order to be able to help a lot of children, not only one single child at the time. This is what Public Health is about – improving and maintaining the health of a whole population through structural changes in the healthcare system.

What made you choose the institution and destination for your Master’s programme?

Deike: After deciding that I wanted to study Public Health I looked up which institutions offered this programme and compared their rankings. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is a world-leading centre for research and education in the health sector. They have excellent facilities and some of the best professors to learn from, which were the main reasons for my choice. That the school is located in London is the cherry on top!

Why do you think studying or working abroad is important to young people’s lives and development?   

Deike: As we live in a globalised world I think it gets more and more important to not only think of your own country or culture, but to get to know and engage with other people with different cultural backgrounds. Especially if you work in a field with a more global outlook, it’s important that you move around, travel and get involved with different cultures, which for me, always equals personal growth.

Finally, where did you take your IELTS test and how was the test experience for you? Would you recommend this test to others who are aiming to study abroad?

Deike: I took my IELTS test in Bremen which is very close to where I live. They offered different slots and I found one that suited me perfectly. On the test day, I felt that everything was really well organised and structured. I always knew what I had to do which helped me focus on the actual tasks. I enjoyed all four parts of the test, but must admit that I was a bit rusty with my writing, mainly as I hadn’t written a free text in a while. I would recommend IELTS to everyone and was pleased with the organisation and experience of the test.

Thank you for these great insights, Deike!

The View From Campus: How You Can Finance U.S. Studies

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

This month’s article features Aimee Thostenson, Director of International Student Recruitment, at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Ms. Thostenson explains one of the most critical elements to successfully studying in the United States: funding your years of education.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words? Large, research, public, comprehensive, urban

 

For what is your institution best known overseas? High-quality and top-ranked academic programs, great metropolitan location, affordable tuition and many opportunities for students to get involved outside the classroom

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?

  • Top 5 countries represented in programs at all levels: China, Republic of Korea, India, Malaysia & Vietnam
  • 13% of all students are international, 9% at the undergraduate and 23% at the graduate level. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities enrolls students from 130 countries

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

Students can submit IELTS results as part of their application for admission.  At the undergraduate level, our minimum for admission consideration is 6.5 overall with a 6.5 section score in writing.  Graduate programs require 6.5 overall with 6.5 section scores for both writing and reading.

 

What are the best sources of funding for international students coming to the U.S.? 

  • Some universities will offer merit-based scholarships, which means that they award the scholarships based primarily on a student’s academic record or grades.
  • Universities may also offer need-based awards, based on the student’s family financial situation. Make sure to check with each university on how this works.
  • Sometimes, universities may offer special scholarships because of a personal attribute or talent, like a scholarship specifically for students who play a particular instrument or intend to go into a particular program/major.
  • Sports or athletic scholarships are also an option, but they are often extremely competitive
  • Graduate students, in addition to merit and need-based scholarships, may be eligible for assistantships (teaching or research under the direction of a faculty member).
  • Usually, assistantships mean that the full or partial cost of tuition is waived and the assistant may receive other benefits like a salary and health insurance.
  • One additional benefit of F-1 immigration status is that international students are allowed to do off-campus internships, paid or unpaid, during their academic program (called Curricular Practical Training) provided the internship is directly related to the student’s academic program.
  • International students may be eligible for educational loans if they have a US citizen or permanent resident cosign the loan for them.
  • Some international students may be eligible for third party funding, for example, from a future employer or sponsoring agency.  This would be up to the student to investigate on his or her own.  A good resource for this kind of funding is the EducationUSA network.

 

For graduate degree seeking students, what is the best advice for finding institutional aid?

Graduate students should be in contact with the academic department directly about funding opportunities.  Graduate admission officers also can assist prospective students to find the right person.

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