Study Destinations

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.

The View From Campus – Public Universities Admissions

This month’s article features Robert Hardin, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for International Recruitment, at the University of Oregon

 

  • Describe your institution in 5 words? Green, unique, groundbreaking, welcoming, and thoughtful.
  • What is your institution best known for overseas? The University of Oregon has alumni from around the world that have made an impact, including: Phil Knight (founder and president of Nike), Daniel Wu (actor), Renee James (former president of Intel), Ann Curry (journalist), Ken Kesey (author), and Chuck Palahniuk (author) to name just a few. UO is also known around the world for having successful sports teams and individual athletes.
  • What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
    The University of Oregon’s top academic programs are: Accounting, Architecture, Education, Psychology, and our sciences, particularly Biology and Physics.
  • What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?
    China, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. We are an international university with over 3,200 international students (about 14% of the student body) from 103 different countries.
  • 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 ways we allow students to prove English proficiency. It is a helpful and valuable tool for us to determine if a student has the level of English needed to be successful at the University of Oregon.

 

Making Admissions Decisions

 

Do most public universities have set deadlines for international admissions?
Yes, most US public universities have deadlines. However, some deadlines are more flexible than others. At the University of Oregon, we accept applications after the deadline if there are spaces available. However, if you want to apply for scholarships, you will need to meet all posted application deadlines.

 

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

We want to get to know a little about the applicant. The essay is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself other than your grades and test scores.

 

What needs to be in a letter of recommendation that my teachers/professors are asked to write?
Teacher letters of recommendation should go beyond what grade you received in a class. We want to know more about how you performed as a student. For example, a letter of recommendation from your math teacher talking about the hard work and effort it took to earn your grade in the class will help us better understand your true academic potential.

 

How important are test scores in university admissions decisions?

In the US, there is no standard practice for admission decisions, so each university sets different expectations. However, the vast majority of US universities value your class grades more than your test scores or other factors.What are the most important factors public universities use to determine admissibility of international students?
Grades are usually the factor that public universities consider the most important. At the University of Oregon, our research shows that high school grades are the best predictor of success for new college students. Test scores are often the second most important factor. After test scores and grades, it is common for public universities to use other factors such as grade trend, strength of curriculum, extracurricular activities, essay, and teacher recommendations.

 

U.S Liberal Arts Colleges Explained: The View From Campus

 

Reed College, USA

 

“We see IELTS Academic as an important tool in evaluating a prospective student’s readiness for the academic demands of our curriculum.”

 

This month’s edition of the view from campus features Reed College, a private liberal arts institution in Portland, Oregon. Virginia Groves, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission, explains the function of small liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

 

  • Describe your institution in 5 words?

While it is tough to use just five: Intellectual, Love of Learning (ok, I know that was a cheat), inclusive, inquisitive and intentional.

 

  • What is your institution best known for overseas?

Reed has both a unique campus culture and academic rigor.

 

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

Our three most popular programs are English, Biology and Psychology.  We also offer the option of getting your nuclear reactor operator certification, which is a popular program across all majors.

 

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

Reed College is 8% international with many of our students coming from China, India, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore.

 

  • How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?

It is recommended that applicants submit an English Proficiency exam if they score below a 600 on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT or if the medium of instruction at their school is not English. We see IELTS Academic as an important tool in evaluating a prospective student’s readiness for the academic demands of our curriculum.

 

 

  • What is the most significant challenge most international students have when first considering the U.S. for post-secondary education?

Higher education in the U.S. is incredibly unique when compared to most institutions overseas, where the curriculum and institutions push students to focus on their chosen profession.

International students looking at U.S. liberal arts colleges and universities need to mentally prepare for a system that does not have one way of doing things.  You will have to take classes outside of your chosen area of study and there is no one single path that a student “should” take after they leave their liberal arts college experience.

 

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

It depends on the deadline of the institution, but typically, if a regular deadline is in early January, we recommend that our students start at least thinking about researching and learning about a school’s application process and requirements at the end of their junior (11th) year.

If the schools you are applying to do require exams, make sure to allow for enough time to take these exams twice (just in case).

 

  • What do prospective international students who are beginning their research need to know about liberal arts colleges in the United States?

You do not have to be fiscally or politically liberal nor particularly artistic to study at a liberal arts college! The goal of a liberal arts college is to prepare you for ANYTHING that you are interested in pursuing after graduation.  The variety of courses and the way that most private, liberal arts colleges structure the curriculum will enable you to learn how to think critically, analytically and creatively.

 

 

  • There are a lot of possible tests international students might need to take. For students considering liberal arts colleges are there some tests that those schools consider that other schools don’t?

It all depends on the institution and how they use those tests to evaluate their applicants.  Some will require the SAT or ACT of all students, international and domestic.  Some will require the English proficiency exams such as IELTS.

Universities will also, on occasion, use these exams to help inform what classes to place admitted students in, while others will require that you take internal placement exams when you arrive on campus.

 

The View From Campus – Homecoming: An American Tradition

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by Rasana Pradhan, Graduate Student at University of Findlay

 

For international students who are not familiar with what U.S. colleges call “Homecoming” can you please explain what that means?

Homecoming is the annual practice of welcoming back alumni to their former school. For those who have graduated, it’s the time for them to go back to their college and meet friends and faculty members, and catch up. It’s an annual tradition in high schools and colleges in the U.S., usually celebrated in October.

Homecoming centres around a specific game most often American football and occasionally basketball, hockey or soccer. The game is followed by a parade featuring marching bands. The homecoming game is played by home team usually against a weaker team, so the match is generally an easy win.  A homecoming dance ordinarily follows the game and coronation of homecoming king and queen is also done during the celebration.

     

What kind of activities happen around campus during Homecoming?

The homecoming at the University of Findlay started with different campus offices participating in the “Homecoming banners” and “Decorated door display” competition. The banners were judged in October 15 and Student Affairs and International Admissions and Services were declared as winners. As a part of homecoming itself, a Fruit n’ Veggie Derby was hosted by Findlay Green Campus Initiative, where participants constructed and raced fresh fruit and veggie derby cars for prizes. Homecoming also includes a tailgate party, fancy dress, reunion parties, pep rallies and picnics.

 

How can international students get involved in what takes place?

Most of the time invites will be sent to the students via email and if volunteers are required, it will be mentioned in the emails. All the events organised in the university seeks the involvement of not only domestic but also international students.

 

As an international student, do you think it is important to participate in these kinds of celebrations on campus?

As an international student, I think participating in these event is a must. Before coming to USA, I was an introvert and was very shy. And after joining this university, I took part in various activities and events, where I interacted with new people and learnt new things. All these activities helped my confidence and now after a year, I can give presentations in front of hundreds of students with full confidence.

 

 

The View From Campus: Whitworth University And The U.S. Application Process

 

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Marie Whalen, Associate Director of International Admissions and Recruitment at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, 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 admissions process.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words or less:

Rigorous, inclusive, supportive, faith-filled

 

For what is your institution known abroad?

Whitworth is best known for its academic excellence and a welcoming, supportive environment for international students.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)

  • Health Sciences
  • Business/Economics
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • English

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?

  • Nigeria
  • South Korea
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Zimbabwe

 

How international is your institution?

We have students from 41 countries currently enrolled, which is an achievement for a smaller liberal arts institution, and that international diversity is intentional.

 

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

IELTS enables us to assess the applicant’s skill overall as well as in the individual areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

As a well-recognized and reliable assessment tool, our international admissions committee can look at an IELTS band score and know instantly what the English level at which the applicant is able to function.

Additionally, we can see if there is one specific area where the student can be successful but may need some additional support, such as writing, for example.

We also appreciate that the verbal section is done with a live interview vs. with a computer.  IELTS is a critical part of determining admissibility in our international admission process.

 

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

Many U.S. colleges and universities offer rolling admission. This is a process that allows students to apply within a wide time range of time rather than submitting to specific tight deadline, like January 1st, for example.

However, rolling admission also means that students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis, so places can fill up. Once places for a class are full, applications won’t be accepted. If applying to a school with rolling admission, it can be better to apply earlier than later.

 

Some U.S. institutions, usually highly selective, offer Early Decision (ED). Students submit their applications early and receive a decision early. If a student applies to a university ED, then they are promising to attend that institution, if admitted.

An ED contract—and it is a contract—should be entered into carefully, as it is binding, and there is not necessarily a guarantee that the ED school will provide the level of financial aid a family needs.

If a student is admitted to their ED institution, they are required to withdraw all other college applications. Students should only apply ED if they are certain they want to attend the ED institution and they have assessed both their financial situation and type and level of aid offered by the ED school.

 

Early Action (EA), like ED, gives students the opportunity to apply early to institutions and receive a decision early.

However, unlike ED, Early Action is not a contract, and not binding. Students can apply to multiple institutions that offer EA. If a student is admitted EA to 5 U.S. colleges, for example, they can choose which one to attend.  There are a very limited number of colleges that offer Restrictive or Single Early Action, requiring students to apply EA to only one institution.

Many institutions offer some combination of ED, EA and Regular Decision. Whitworth, for example, offers Early Action I and Early Action II, as well as Regular Decision. A regular decision deadline is the deadline after any ED or EA deadlines and is usually considered the final deadline for applying.

The View From Campus: Researching U.S. Degrees

u-of-delaware-shot

This month’s interviewee Anna Wise, Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Delaware

 

University Quick Facts

Describe your institution in 5 words? Innovative, Engaging, Community, Opportunity, Passion.

What is your institution best known for overseas? It’s best known for Engineering, Business and being in a strong location.

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? Our top programs are: Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Hotel and Hospitality Management, Physical Therapy, and Masters of Business Administration.

How international is your institution? We have 4000 international students, from 116 countries. The top countries are China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Mexico.

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process? Our admissions requirement is IELTS 6.5

 

 

Researching Options 

What do prospective undergraduate international students struggle with most when researching the thousands of college options in the U.S.? 

Students can struggle getting past the idea of rankings and “name brand” schools.

How do you define what a public institution means for an international student? 

Public institutions have funding for research and facilities from the government, so that means more research opportunities for you!

What do prospective international students who are beginning their research need to know about public/state universities in the United States?

Public universities are often great places to go for internship and research opportunities. Attending a big state school often also means more clubs and sports teams on campus, which means greater school spirit!

What are the advantages of attending public institutions in the U.S.?

It means there is a wider variety of degree options, more specialised degree programs, research and internship opportunities – as well as a larger alumni base for possible jobs after graduation.

 

Why Studying in Ireland Could Be For You

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World Class Universities

With all of its universities ranked in the top 5% in the world, Ireland can be a great choice to study with your IELTS score.

Though the Irish language (Gaelic) is spoken by around a third of the population and you’ll find it written regularly, the predominant language is English, and so is a great option for international students wanting to study degree programmes in English.

 

Research Excellence

More than 780 million euros is spent on research programmes at Ireland’s universities each year, helping to make it one of the leading countries for research across a number of subjects. From the arts and humanities to the sciences, this excellence is attracting talent from around the globe to Ireland’s shores. In fact, Ireland is now ranked 2nd in the world for both Chemistry and Nanotechnology.

It’s then no wonder why the international student population has reached around 35,000, with people coming from more than 161 countries to further their studies there.

 

Beyond the classroom

Downtime from study could never be boring in Ireland either.

It’s a country with a rich cultural history, producing giants of literature, science and song. It also boast some of the most welcoming people on the planet and a rugged and beautiful landscape to explore. Around half of Ireland’s total population is under 28 years old too, so there is plenty that cater to people of a student age!

Ireland will welcome you with open arms!

 

 

 

 

 

The View From Campus: What Do U.S. Women’s Colleges Provide?

 

Image courtesy of Evonne (CC Flickr)

Image courtesy of Evonne (CC Flickr)

We are searching for women that want to grow and learn…

Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN

We spoke to Mona Bowe from Admissions at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) about what makes Women’s Colleges different.

Describe your institution in 5 words?

Catholic, residential, women’s, liberal arts.

What is your institution best known for overseas?

Providing quality education and leadership skills for women looking for undergraduate education opportunities.

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

Our grad programs are too small, as we are only in our second year of the programs. The largest, however, is the Master’s in Speech Pathology. At the undergrad level, the most popular are:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Communication

What are the top 5 countries represented at your institution after the U.S.?

China is our most represented country, but currently we have students from Rwanda, Morocco, Japan, Jordan, Myanmar Vietnam, Ukraine, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Peru (one from each country).

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?

We use IELTS results to measure English Language ability and proficiency.

 

If a female international student comes across women’s colleges in her search what does she need to know about these institutions?

The number one difference I point out to domestic and international students alike, is that they should understand that an all-girls high school, and a women’s college, are two completely different animals! While both might have in their mission “educating females”, women’s colleges in the US do so inside and outside of the classroom. Students will receive a world-class education in their major area of study (or two, or three), but in addition will gain invaluable leadership skills that are hard to develop in a co-educational environment. The students themselves challenge each other to develop into empowered, confident women.

Other than the obvious one, what are some major differences between women’s colleges in the US and the greater majority of other post-secondary institutions?

Data shows that the majority of leadership and research opportunities at co-educational institutions have traditionally gone to men, because they tend to be louder and more assertive at this time of their development. At a women’s college, all these positions of leadership, and all the opportunities for research, are taken by women. The skills gained from these kinds of experiences, will prepare graduates of women’s college to work alongside, and compete against, men and women for positions in graduate school, careers, and their communities.

How selective are women’s colleges in the admissions process?

It varies, but they all have one thing in common: we are searching for women that want to grow and learn; who are interested in pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone, and are not afraid to try; who understand that they have an opinion, and a powerful voice to make it heard.

Sounds like a very tall order, but if you have ever met a graduate of a women’s college, you know what I mean by “they know they can change the world.”

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 1)

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London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and attracts people from all corners of the globe each year. It has a rich history to discover and caters for every taste.

Unfortunately, London’s popularity means it can be an expensive city to live in, so for most students, getting by on a limited budget is essential.

It can be hard to avoid tourist traps as an international student, so getting to know the place can save you a lot.

 

Here are a few London transport tips to avoiding throwing money down the drain as a student.

 

Two Wheels Good

Cycling is perhaps the cheapest way to get around a major city. In fact, over a million Londoners own a bicycle and use it regularly. A word of warning though: only cycle if you are competent cyclist – London traffic can be difficult to handle. But there are many parks, group lessons, and a growing cycle highway system which can help you gain the confidence and practice you need.

You can also hire one of London’s 11,000 ‘Boris Bikes’ (named after the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson) from one of the 750 docking stations across the capital. It costs £2 to rent the bike for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of your journey is free.

 

Mind the gap

The city’s public transport network is extensive and well-developed, but some may find ticket prices a bit high. No need to panic though if you’re a student: just get a Student Oyster photocard to enjoy a 30% discount on travel cards as well as tube, bus and rail fares.

 

Don’t stick to the map

Another way is to just walk! Walking is the best way to discover any city’s secrets. You’ll soon realise that most things are nearer than you thought and you’ll get the added exercise and save lots of money! For instance, most Tube stations in the centre are within walking distance (around 0.5 to 1 mile) of each other.

 

Happy travels!

 

GLOSSARY

 

get by
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to manage, especially when facing difficulties
Example : Tom and Sally are able to get by with little money, as their needs are limited.

 

Cater for
Form : verb
Meaning : To provide what is needed
Example : The cabin crew catered for all passengers’ needs.

 

handle
Form : verb
Meaning : to deal with a situation
Example : Miguel doesn’t handle angry customers well.

 

throwing money down the drain
Form : phrase
Meaning : To waste money (especially by spending it on something useless)
Example :  ‘Why are you spending your wages on gambling? You’re just throwing money down the drain!’

 

 

competent
Form : Adjective
Meaning : Having the necessary skill or ability to do something
Example : Mathew was a competent swimmer and knew to stop when he felt tired.

 

 

 

 

View From Campus: My Journey from Nepal to Studying in the U.S.

Rasana

IELTS has made a substantial contribution to what I am today

 

We spoke with Rasana Pradhan from Nepal, who is studying Environmental Safety and Health Management at the University of Findlay in the U.S. She told us about her how the IELTS test helped her prepare for U.S. study and her dreams to set up an environmental NGO back in Nepal.

 

How would you describe your experience in preparing for and taking the IELTS test?

As a graduate from St. Xavier’s College and an avid English novel reader, learning English has always been my passion. I always wanted to come to the U.S. and I knew IELTS was the gateway to it, so after completing my BA, I booked my IELTS date and bought IELTS books. I frequently went to British Council to grab some more IELTS books and DVDS so that, I could learn more. Later on I also participated in British Council’s weekly classes and IELTS sessions. Writing essays on variant topics evidently enhanced my writing skills, and speaking about different topics in front of everyone was one of my best experiences.

Then finally, the test day arrived.The best part of taking my IELTS was my speaking test. I had a great time talking to my examiner about my hobbies, my friends and my aim in life. Overall, when I have to sum up, the IELTS test improved my English and boosted my confidence.

 

How did you decide on the U.S. as your study destination? 

I always had a thirst for knowledge. The education system in the U.S. is one of the best in the world, as it strives for more practical education rather than just theoretical one. I came here to quench my thirst for getting an education that will allow me to grow professionally. In addition, the U.S. is the land of opportunities!

 

How has the IELTS experience prepared you for your degree program? 

I think IELTS has made a substantial contribution to what I am today. It has undeniably made me a confident English speaker. I have actively participated in my class presentations, I can confidently talk to my professors and my American friends. IELTS taught me the exact format of writing, which helped me a lot during my course assignments. Moreover, because of this confidence and good communication skills, I also earned a graduate assistantship this year. For a graduate assistant, fluency in English is essential, so IELTS has helped me fulfil my duties. You not only learn from school, but also from your day-to-day life. I have not only learned to be more independent, but also to solve my problems. Here, I have been able to get a holistic education that goes beyond school and definitely beyond books.

UF alumni

What are your plans after graduation?

I am planning to work for 3-5 years as an environmental and health specialist/manager in the U.S. to gain experience. After gaining sufficient amount of experience here, I have a dream to go back and open an environmental NGO in my country. I co-founded an organisation called The Youth Today Nepal in 2014, and this organisation inspired me to work more for the betterment of the people. There aren’t many good environmental and safety organisations in Nepal and the state of my country’s environment is deteriorating, so I would like to improve those conditions and serve others.

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