6 Tips for International Student Admission from International Admissions Counselor Ben Miles
Navigating the international student admissions process in the US can be challenging. Figuring out each school’s international admission requirements, calculating costs and scholarships, preparing for the student visa process—the list of required items stretches on.
As an international admissions counselor for Grace College, I’ve had the privilege of walking many through the international student admission process. It’s a complex, incredibly rewarding journey that highlights the courage and resolve of students preparing to study in a foreign environment. International students arrive on Grace College’s campus each year from all around the world, and each one comes with a unique background and story. But all of them share one thing in common: they faced the rigorous process of international student admissions and bravely pushed through it to the other side. You can do the same with enough time and effort, and you don’t have to do it alone. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Tip 1: Choose the Right Place
When you first begin looking for the right school to attend in the US, the number of options is staggering. You’ve got public and private schools. You’ve got schools ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of students. You’ve got schools that focus on only a few, trade-specific degrees and schools that offer hundreds. The key is to narrow down all those options to the handful that will best fit YOU and your future education. If you’re looking for a big city, big school experience, then look at the larger options. If you want a specialized, tighter experience, look through the trade-specific schools. And if you’re looking for small Christian colleges in the US with stellar academics, look no further than Grace College!
Tip 2: Consider the Cost
Studying for your next degree is expensive! Colleges and universities know this, and they try to help make things more affordable with scholarships (check out Grace’s scholarship for international students and merit-based scholarships), but ultimately it’s up to the international students to figure out how they’ll pay each year’s costs after scholarships. Many students I’ve worked with don’t realize just how expensive it can be to study for an undergraduate degree. Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking through your payment options. Do you have friends or family who can help pay part of your way? Start conversations with them now. Do you have a church or organization (check out Grace’s Church Matching Grant) willing to sponsor part of your education? Reach out ahead of time. Have you looked for external scholarships offered by organizations other than colleges and universities? Start looking now. The more financial options you have on your side as you start the international student admissions process, the more prepared you’ll be to make your undergraduate dreams a reality.
Tip 3: Start Small
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as an international student with the number of things to check off your list as you begin your application. Send in transcripts and test scores, calculate costs after scholarships, go through the student visa process, register for classes, figure out housing — there’s a lot. But instead of giving up or feeling defeated, try tackling one thing at a time. Talk to your counselor (that’s me!) about what your next step in the process is and then work on that without worrying about the rest. The admissions stage is set up to build from one thing to the next in a sequential order — you’re creating your way to your undergraduate studies with each item you check off. So don’t stress the big picture and try to enjoy the journey!
Tip 4: Don’t Procrastinate
As an international student, you’ll have to go through the student visa application process to obtain a visa to study in the US. This process can be complicated, but don’t worry — you’ll have your admissions counselor walking you through each step. It does take time, however, so make sure you don’t put off finishing your application and providing all the documentation requested by your admissions counselor. If you save everything until the last minute, there is a chance you may not get your visa in time for your school’s start date.
Tip 5: Find Support
None of the international students studying at Grace College right now arrived on their own. Whether it was family, friends, or some other support network, these students relied on trusted voices to help them navigate through the admissions process. Make sure that you have a community you can face the highs and lows of undergraduate applications with, including your admissions counselor at the school of your choice (like me!). Don’t try to do it alone. Take advantage of the free help along the way and remember that no question is too silly to ask.
Tip 6: Take A Chance
Studying outside of your home country is no small thing. New cultures and customs need to be studied. New languages often need to be learned. New systems of education need to be absorbed. You’ll be living in a foreign country that will take time to adapt to, and it’s a big leap of faith to do so. But the good news is that each of the international students at Grace College have done these exact things, and that means you can too! Once you’ve arrived at your new school, you’ll settle into routines and begin building your community. Eventually, it will become a home for you. And remember that with the higher risk of trying something different comes higher reward. The things you’ll learn, places you’ll see, and relationships you’ll build will be in an entirely different category from anything else you’ll experience.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to start the international student admissions process, then turn in those applications and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
If you’re an international student, you can reach out to Ben at email@example.com with any questions you may have.