If you are planning to apply for a master’s or doctoral degree in the United States, one item, more than most, makes you nervous. For most international students one of the most significant challenges you will face is writing the statement of purpose (or SOP). Let us spend some time covering what you need to know.
Graduate statement of purpose
What is important to remember in applying to U.S. graduate programs is that each department within a university may have different things it looks for in what prospective students write in their application statement of purpose. As a result, we strongly encourage applicants to focus on the department they are applying to more than the university when composing their thoughts. Oftentimes the graduate departments that require statements of purpose have the final say as to which applicants are admitted to their programs.
Tips for graduate applicants
There are many suggestions out there for writing an acceptable statement of purpose. Four tips have consistently shown to be reliable as international students approach this important writing assignment.
Find the right academic program
Investigate the specifics of each program
Get to know the faculty and their research
Be careful – one SOP does not fit all
As always, US graduate departments are keen to attract students that clearly demonstrate a desire to attend their programs. Many institution’s graduate schools offer specific advice on writing the statement of purpose. Check out these two suggestions from University of California, Berkeley and Cornell University (one of the US Ivy League institutions).
Final advice …
As you begin this process, we have some final words of advice. Remember this …
Nothing is perfect the first time.
Don’t be afraid to start over.
Be honest, specific, and concrete.
Have others read your drafts.
In the end, your SOP should reflect who you are, why you are applying, and what this degree will help you achieve in life.
For more insight on this topic, check out our Facebook Live chat from March 2022.
Over the last two years the Covid-19 pandemic had caused significant changes to how classes are taught on U.S. college campuses. Many lecture classes with 100, 200, or more students that met in big rooms or auditoriums have largely gone online, supplemented by smaller, in-person lab or discussion sections with 15-25 students each. Students on many campuses are still wearing masks indoors and are socially distanced within the classroom. Hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. All of these changes have been designed to stop the spread, but in the end, these are superficial changes to how different taking a university class in the United States is compared to many other countries.
For international students seeking to study in the United States there are and will continue to be several important parts of academic life that will remain. While many courses have been taught online and those taught in-person having significant physical changes to the classroom space, the following areas remain consistent.
What surprises most international students when they get into their first classes at U.S. colleges is how professors can be so friendly. You may be used to a very formal relationship between students and faculty members in your educational institutions in your home country. For many professors in the United States, the opportunities to help students become what they hope to be is a calling. Faculty members are routinely required to have a set number of hours each week that they are available outside of class periods for students to schedule appointments about topics in class that need clarification or even drop by to have a conversation. International students often develop close relationships with faculty members in their academic program who serve as mentors for students as they progress through their degree program.
Typically, the first time each class meets, all students in the room receive what is called a syllabus. This document serves as an informal contract between students & the professor. The syllabus outlines all requirements for the duration the class meets, what textbooks or other resources will be studied, when assignments or papers would be due as well as the dates of quizzes, tests, and/or exams. Oftentimes, the syllabus breaks down all content that will be covered as well as how grades will be determined. Quizzes might be worth 10%, a mid-term test 25%, a paper 20%, final exam 30%, and classroom participation 15%. That’s right, you read that last part of the preceding sentence correctly – how well you participate in class can count as a significant portion of your academic grade for a course!
While you take a minute to digest that last part, let us explain that whether it’s simply asking questions to demonstrate you are engaged in the conversation or need explanations of certain topics, the expectation is that students participate. Speaking with new international students over the years, I have found that while they can usually adapt to the informality of relationships with professors, the real challenge is in changing the way they approach class. Faculty members, in general (certainly not all), encourage debate and discussions on the issues that the topics of the day’s class cover.
The realities of the differences in how classrooms operate here compared to your home country may take you some time to become comfortable with them. But one area of how U.S. classrooms operate on college campuses that must be understood immediately after classes begin is academic integrity. In effect, this means there are university policies that require students to practice academic honesty and not engage in plagiarism or other forms of cheating while enrolled. See what the University of North Carolina’s policy on academic integrity involves. MIT breaks down what that prestigious institution means into simple dos and don’ts for issues that may come up in the classroom.
In the end, you’ll need to prepare for the academic transition to a U.S. college. For additional resources on these topics and more, check out this video playlist from our colleagues at EducationUSA that answers questions on the different facets of the classroom experience in U.S. colleges and universities. EducationUSA is the U.S. Department of State’s network of advising centers in 175 countries and territories that serve as the official source on U.S. higher education. The website for this network also has some excellent advice about study options in the United States.
Are you a student thinking about studying abroad for your first university experience? If so, you are to be commended. If you are considering the United States, you will be welcomed by the college you choose. Finding the right U.S. college, however, may well take some time, with most experts suggesting students start the process between 12-18 months in advance of when they might wish to start their studies. How can you best approach the U.S. college search?
Ask important self-discovery questions
For starters, before you pick colleges, take a few minutes to ask yourself the kinds of questions that will help you find a college or university that will be the best fit for what you need. Our friends at EducationUSA have put together a useful worksheet that is well worth trying called “Define Your Priorities.”
By determining your answers to questions like why do you want to study in the U.S., as well as preferences for living in a city, suburb, or more rural area, or whether you want to be on a large campus or a small one, you can begin to codify what’s important to you in this search.
Learn about different college types
Of course, understanding the kinds of colleges that exist in the United States is equally important. With over 4,000 accredited U.S. colleges and universities, there are many different types of institutions from which you can select: public v private, college v. university v. institute, etc. As you do your research on what those differences are, keep in mind that there will be terms that might sound familiar to what you know, but may have different meanings. There is a very useful FAQ on the EducationUSA site that helps explain many of these terms.
Use search engines to narrow your choices
Perhaps the most daunting task you will face in your search is narrowing your list of possible college options down to a manageable number. There are several college search engines out there to help you in this process. The two that many students use are College Navigator, and Big Future. Each has a variety of factors you can choose from to select institutions including:
Location by state
Selectivity of the institution
Sports and activities available
Types of campus housing
Diversity of the student body
By using all of these various criteria, you should be able to put together an appropriate list of colleges that match your wants and needs. From a list of perhaps 10-20 institutions, the next step will be to investigate each of those colleges online to learn more about how close of a fit each may be for you.
Prepare for standardized tests
If there’s one area that has changed considerably in the college search this year it is the role of standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. As you may have realized, due to the pandemic, college admissions has changed in recent years. At present, over seventy-five percent of four year (and all of the two-year) colleges either do not require or won’t consider SAT or ACT scores for applicants for admissions intakes in 2022. Be sure, when you start to further narrow your choices down, to check what tests beyond an IELTS would be needed to apply to the U.S. colleges on your list.
More on applying to U.S. colleges in the months to come!
Over the past twenty months, many international students seeking to study in the United States have had their dreams put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty surrounding whether universities would be open has caused many students to either defer enrollment for a year or begin their studies online from their home countries. But as travel restrictions loosen, changes to admission requirements happen, and the guarantee of vaccinations being available to new international students on arrival, the United States is seeing a significant spike in student interest this year. When it comes to researching master’s and doctoral degree programs in the United States, while the process is largely the same, there are some important changes to keep in mind.
When should you begin your search? Most U.S. experts now say you should start at least 12-24 months ahead of when you wish to start studies. With the quickly moving landscape on which countries are even open to accept international students, it can be hard to plan effectively for what your future might look like, let alone where you may be studying. However, in the United States there are over 1100 colleges and universities that offer master’s and doctoral programs.
Define your priorities
As part of your search, before you go looking for academic programs that meet your needs, a necessary first step should be to ask yourself defining questions as to what’s most important to you. Our friends at EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State’s global network of advising centers in 170+ countries, have prepared a great resource on researching graduate study options to assist students. One of those tools to consider using is the Define Your Priorities worksheet. Some of those self-discovery questions to ask include:
Why do you want to study in the United States?
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
How will you pay for your graduate program in the United States?
What are your academic grades?
What are your English test scores?
What size institution do you like?
Would you like to attend a private or public institution?
Do you prefer living in an urban, suburban, or rural setting?
Would you like to live on campus or off campus?
Once you have identified those answers, you will have the most valuable criteria you need to begin you search in a more circumspect manner.
Narrow your options
EducationUSA lists four search engines you can use to begin to find a possible list of the academic programs, locations, institutions that meet your needs. Those search sites will only give you so much information about the colleges and universities that match some of the broad strokes of what you need. Once you have identified those programs, to get much closer to what you need to know about each institution, you will need to review each school’s website where the real details are you need to know on costs, deadlines, tests, and admissions process.
Because this year, like the last one, there really are no in-person college fairs and events where direct representatives have not been able to connect with you in your home country, it is more important than ever to connect virtually with the U.S. colleges that you’re considering. Whether that be in a virtual university fair, a live chat with representatives from your top choices, a webinar with other international students who may already be attending those institutions, and/or a visit to a local EducationUSA advising center for more specific resources, you have several ways to narrow your options.
Find your right fit
In the end, there may be several schools/programs that you research that you can see yourself attending. At this stage it’s time to do deep look at the institutions involved, the strength of the program, and the quality and areas of research conducted by the faculty. Only after getting this next level details will you be able to make the decisions on where you wish to apply.
Prepare for tests
And, finally, before physically applying to these programs, it is essential to know which tests might be required. Certainly, rest assured that for most all quality master’s and doctoral program in the U.S. will accept an IELTS score toward meeting the English proficiency standards set by each program. The question will be whether any other academic standardized tests like the GRE or GMAT are required. Because of the pandemic, there are an increasingly large number of programs that are test-optional this year when it comes to GRE or GMAT requirements. Even top business schools in the United States are, for this current 2021 recruitment cycle, not requiring GRE or GMAT scores. More recently, over 85% of the graduate degree programs at the University of California, Berkeley (one of the top 25 U.S. national universities) decided to make the GRE optional for all applicants.
Looking out across America these last few weeks, the excitement on college and university campuses is high. With the anticipation for the start of a new academic year and, for international students, the opportunity to realize their dreams. Unlike last year, when most international students began their studies online from their home countries, this fall in the United States, new overseas students have been able to return to campus with more normal circumstances.
Adjust to your new environment
More than anything else, once your arrive in the United States for studies, getting over jet lag (travel fatigue) is priority one. There are many strategies out there, but one that seems to work well is on your first day, to go to sleep at a time (in your new time zone) when you would normally do so. By any measure, getting yourself on a schedule is an important first step. The climate may also be very different from what you know, so your body clock may take some time in making that adjustment.
One item that may very well be in place at your U.S. college or university is for new international students coming direct from overseas, is a quarantine period. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not require travelers to quarantine if they have been vaccinated, those who have not yet been vaccinated are strongly recommended to get a Covid-19 test within 3-5 days after arrival and self-isolate for 7 days. Some college campuses may still have a required quarantine time, particular for unvaccinated students. Typically, this would mean isolating in university housing for a short period before you would be able to join in regular activities.
Get Settled on campus
While most new international student orientations this fall have been in person, some may still have elements that will be held virtually. These virtual orientations may mean that initial movements on campus will be limited as facilities are re-opened slowly or in phases to further limit the spread of Covid-19.
One way to get to know your campus, if you haven’t already done a “virtual tour” of campus, is to get a virtual map of your college or university (from the website or college’s mobile app) on your phone and/or tablet and wander around campus to find the buildings you will be using most often.
Learn the rules
As a new international student on campus, one of the most important sessions you will need to attend is on immigration regulations. While not always the most exciting topic, pay attention to the requirements your college sets out in this session when it comes to maintaining your student status. Besides immigration rules, health insurance also ranks up there as a critical component that you may not know well. The U.S. system of health care relies on primarily private insurance to cover the costs involved. Most all U.S. colleges now require students purchase such coverage while they are in the country.
Other than immigration and health care, the most significant area of rules that can directly impact international students are the academic policies of your institution. From Issues of classroom attendance, the course syllabus, exam policies, plagiarism, to academic integrity violations, knowing these guidelines will ensure a smooth passage through your academic career.
Make lifelong friends
What really makes your time at a U.S. college memorable are the people you interact with on a regular basis. For many international students, their fondest early memories of being on campus are the shared experiences they had with other students from overseas. Yet, for many, the relationships you get to establish with your U.S. classmates are the most impactful. Not only will you get a chance to make American friends, but you will get to share your culture, your history, your experiences with them as they learn about the world outside their own borders.
Broadening your horizons at a U.S. college will be much easier than you think. Especially if you choose to get involved in clubs and organizations on campus, you will find multiple opportunities to make your experiences at your college more fulfilling than you might ever have expect. So, even if you’re a bit shy or worried about your English ability, take the chance, get involved!
Whichever way your U.S. college or university is starting its academic year, make the most of this time. Getting off to a good start makes all the difference in how successful you will be in your classes, on campus, and in the community. Good luck!
The last six months have thrown the world as we know it into a state of disarray. Covid-19 has impacted every corner of the planet in ways we never thought imaginable. As a result, things in everyday life for students seeking higher education outside their home country have changed substantially. If you’ve been planning to study in the United States and have been admitted for study, gotten your visa, and are now ready to go, what do you need to know?
Get your documents in order
Now more than ever, because of recent changes in immigration regulations in the United States due to the pandemic, having your documents in order matters most. From your I-20, to your passport and F-1 student visa, to your admissions letter, academic and financial documents, everything must reflect who you are and what your institution’s plan is for classes this coming academic year. While the new rules do allow for new international students to participate in a mix of in-person and online courses (called a hybrid program), if your intended college has recently made the decision to go completely online, you may not be allowed in the country.
Communicate with your university regularly
Our friends at EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State’s network of educational advising centers in 170 countries, traditionally hold pre-departure orientations for international students before they head to the United States for study. While most of these sessions have gone virtual due to the pandemic, they are still happening and can be great resources for students like yourself trying to make sense of a very confusing time in our world. As you get ready to begin your U.S. study journey, the most important people you need to maintain regular communication with are the international student office staff at your college or university. For many U.S. higher education institutions, the past few months have been ones that have been dramatically disrupted, like much of the world, by this global pandemic. Plans these colleges made in April for how the next academic year would look like for new students may very well have changed. As a result it is essential for you to be aware of what those plans are and know what you should do.
Know the immigration and airline rules
Entering the United States as an international student is a fairly straightforward process in normal times if you’ve taken all the required steps and are well-prepared for this last step of your journey to U.S. study. However, these are not normal times. You must know what the current procedures both for the airlines you may be flying into the United States and the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) division that handles immigration control at the borders. There have been reports that some airlines want passengers to have had a negative Covid-19 test before flying internationally. Depending on where you live you may need to look into getting a test before you fly.
Moreover, when entering the United States, the officials at CBP who interview each person seeking entry have to ask questions about your intended studies when you present your documents at the immigration checkpoint at the airport. The Department of Homeland Security which oversees CBP has put together important resources in its Study in the States site that discusses the current regulations. Be sure to review this guidance before you leave.
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year many would rather soon forget. But if you have been planning for months if not years of leaving your home country for a higher education experience abroad, this year represents a truly unique time. This fall, U.S. colleges across the country are making plans for several different versions of what the new normal of instruction and campus life will be. From your destination college or university, to an in-country pre-departure orientation, to the required immigration documents recommended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the resources exist to help you travel to the U.S. like a pro.
Connect with college international office staff
I asked several U.S. institutional representatives about how they are responding to the impact of Covid-19 for international students hoping to study at their colleges, and here are a couple of the responses:
Cathy Knudson, East Carolina University, North Carolina “We have a standard communication plan explaining basic remaining steps and arrival guidance; however, it mostly directs them to contact us to discuss their situation. We are doing a lot of individual outreach via WhatsApp to explain the options students have for enrollment and what steps to take. A lot of attempts to ease anxiety.”
Kara Wagner, Calvin University, Michigan “We have created emails and a website with arrival information for incoming students. We are also holding an option of online or on campus for those that can get a visa in time or are in the States currently. We have asked students to arrive on campus August 14 for August 22 orientation but are prepared to work with them on arrival dates. We do not have many students who are able to arrive on campus this fall.”
No one can provide you, as a new incoming international student, all the details you will need to know about getting ready for life at your college as well as the international student office can. It is vital that you maintain close contact with your university in the weeks leading up to arrival and orientation.
Consult local pre-departure experts
While your U.S. college knows everything you need to know about what to bring for your studies, how to get to campus, and what to do once you arrive, others closer to you can assist you in getting ready mentally for your journey. The U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network of over 400 advising centers in 170+ countries provides pre-departure workshops for international students preparing for their arrival. These sessions are all virtual meetings at present and may attract between 20 and 300 people getting ready to travel.
Comprehend required immigration documents
By now you realize the most significant step to realizing your study abroad dream in the United States is the last one: immigration control.
Before you arrive, make sure to review the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s useful Study in the States site, in particular the Preparing For Your Trip to the United States page. On this site, the team at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol outline all the relevant documents (and where to keep them) as you travel to the United States. The best advice recommends that you carry with you on the plane the most essential documents you will need: academic transcripts, passport, I-20, admission letter, financial documents, contact information for the international student office at your college, and any medicines you need.
In the end, your success shortly after you arrive at your college or university will depend on how well you have prepared.
As the new academic year begins at many U.S. colleges and universities this month, we hear from Mohinder “Holly” Singh, Senior Director of International Students and Scholars Center, Arizona State University, on the very timely topic of the value of participating in new international student orientation on U.S. college campuses.
Q: Describe your institution in 10 words? A: #1 public university in the U.S. chosen by international students.
Q: For what is your institution best known overseas? A: According to U.S. News and World Report, Arizona State University is #1 Innovative School in the U.S. ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed. Many international students select ASU to study our undergraduate business programs and graduate Engineering programs.
Q: What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? A: Grad: Homeland/National Security and Emergency Management, Information and Technology Management, Local Government Management, Supply Chain Management and Logistics, Urban Policy.
UG: Supply Chain Management and Logistics, Business Management, Quantitative Analysis, Business Management Systems, Teaching.
Q: What are the top 5 countries represented at your college? A: China, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and South Korea.
Q: What is the role of an international student office on campus?
A: At Arizona State University, the International Students and Scholars Center works to facilitate the success of our students’ and visiting scholars’ time in the U.S. Our core goal is to ensure compliance of our students and visiting scholars with Department of Homeland Security and Department of State immigration regulations. In addition, we work to assist our students and visiting scholars with academic integration, cultural adjustment issues, leadership development and any other support they may need.
Q: What steps do U.S. universities take to help international students adjust to their new environment?
A: ASU helps new international students feel welcome even before they arrive in the U.S. All new international students are invited to complete an online introductory module, which provides information about campus culture, ways to get involved, how to ask for assistance and introduces the many resources available to students after arriving on campus. Additionally, each semester ASU hosts an International Orientation Week prior to Welcome Week to officially welcome new international students to campus. These orientation experiences includes information on immigration regulations, on-campus employment opportunities, U.S. classroom culture and other information about student life at ASU. Students from around the world are also provided with opportunities to engage in social settings to build relationships and connections with their fellow students.
Q: Why should an new international student attend orientation? A: ASU’s International Orientation Week program is specifically designed for new international students as it will introduce them to important resources, allow them to meet new friends, show them how to succeed academically at an American university, and offer opportunities for them to have their questions answered by university staff and officials.
Q: What should new international students remember when attending orientation at ASU? A: ASU’s fall semester begins in late August, which is an extremely hot time in Arizona. New students must remember to drink lots of water and dress in layers as the air-conditioning inside buildings makes it very cold indoors.
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you’d give new international students attending orientation? A: Ask questions. We understand that asking for help is hard for some individuals from certain cultures, but ASU’s President, Dr. Crow, always encourages students to raise their hand and ask for help when they need it.
Q: What should new international students do after orientation if they need support or have questions? A: New international students are always encouraged to reach out to the ISSC for any questions they have whether they are regarding immigration regulations or other topics. If they ISSC cannot provide the support directly, we will reach out to the appropriate department to provide the information needed by the student.
This month we hear from Marty Bennett, award-winning international educator who has directed international student admissions and student services operations at several U.S. colleges and universities, worked with the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network or advising centers around the world, and now consults with the British Council on U.S. higher education opportunities for IELTS test takers.
For many years I have asked new international students what has
surprised them most about their time in the U.S. so far. One answer repeated
more often than any other: “it’s not like what I’ve seen in the movies and on
TV!” While there may be some appeal to living the life of a TV celebrity or
movie star, this is not how the greater majority of people live.
When it comes to understanding what life will be like on a U.S. college or university campus, most international students have only what they’ve read or seen online. Very few have actually visited U.S. colleges before they enrol. As a result, many international students may rely on what the normal university experience is like in their home countries. To help give perspective on what it’s really like, I’ve been asked to respond to these five questions:
the most common challenge new international students face when adapting to the
environment at U.S. colleges?
Adjusting to the lack of formality in relationships is perhaps the
most difficult challenge to overcome. Not only do U.S. students have very
informal connections with each other, but the student – professor relationship can
have a really friendly and casual feel. This can be very hard to understand.
There are many ways that international students experience a very different classroom
environment that they may be used back home. From how well they participate in
classroom discussions being a percentage of their grade, to how terms like
plagiarism and academic dishonesty are defined will leave new internationals struggling
you describe the life of an international student on a college campus?
Get used to most people you pass on campus saying “Hello!” “Hi,
how are you doing?” and “Whassup?” and then keep on walking without stopping to
have a conversation. This behavior is normal. Don’t be offended. In reality,
international students at many colleges in the United States have access on
campus to services, social events, advising, clubs, and activities that simply
do not exist in most other countries.
seriously do U.S institutions take the responsibility of providing for a great
variety of students’ needs and interests while they live in and around campus?
For many colleges, they are the home away from home for their
students, especially international students. As a result, U.S. institutions
tend to provide a full range of facilities, activities, event, organizations,
and services to their students. Unusual offices that help students with
everything from resume crafting and interview training, counseling services for
mental health concerns, to special interest clubs, to intramural sports, and
dozens if not hundreds of service opportunities for students wishing to do volunteer
work, U.S. colleges cater to the full range of students’ needs.
most international students find most surprising about what happens on campus
outside of the classroom?
Other than the friendly “hi’s” and hello’s” they will get from
most students on campus, the sheer scope of different events, activities, and
clubs available to join is what is most surprising for international students.
advice would you give international students to best prepare them for life on
Perhaps the best advice I would give to students about coming to the United States for a college or university degree, is twofold: 1) keep an open mind – expect to be surprised by what you encounter, and 2) if at all possible, talk to current international students from your country or region of the world before you go, so you can get the perspective of someone who has been through what you are about to experience. Good luck!
This month’s article is featuring Robert Hardin, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for International Recruitment, at the University of Oregon
About the university
Q: Describe your institution in 5 words? A:Green, unique, groundbreaking, welcoming, and thoughtful.
Q: For what is your institution best known overseas? A: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.
Q: What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? A: The University of Oregon’s top academic programs are: Accounting, Architecture, Education, Psychology, and our sciences, particularly Biology and Physics.
Q: What are the top 5 countries represented at your college? 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.
Q: 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.
Q: Do most public universities have set deadlines for international admissions? A: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.
Q: What are institutions looking for in an application essay/statement of purpose? A: 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.
Q: What needs to be in a letter of recommendation that my teachers/professors are asked to write? A: 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 maths 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.
Q: How important are test scores in university admissions decisions? A: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.
Q: What are the most important factors public universities use to determine admissibility of international students? A: 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.
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