6 College Application Tips for International Students


College is a big change for most students as they leave behind the comforts of home to make new friends in a new town. However, what if you’re traveling all the way to a new country? If you’re considering attending university in the United States, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help you get into the school of your choice with minimal stress. Though the process may seem a little overwhelming, it’s easier than most people think — as long as you know what to expect and have a clear plan of action. Just remember to give yourself plenty of time, ask a ton of questions, and let yourself breathe.

1. Pick A Place That Suits You

Since you don’t live in the U.S., it might be difficult to take an in-person tour of the universities that pique your interest. Luckily, there are a few online resources available. Unigo, for instance, offers reviews of universities, by students and alumni.  

Make sure to do your research. A college that tops a website’s list of popular schools may not challenge you academically. Conversely, an Ivy League school may be too coursework-heavy and intensive for your taste.

2. Check Out The Common Application

If you don’t have your heart set on a school yet, you can cover more ground by completing a common application. This universal form is used by hundreds of institutions to screen potential students. Imagine applying to more than 500 universities one at a time. This can be huge timesaver in the long run — and a decent college you could have previously overlooked might even contact you.

3. Placement Testing  

Germany has the grueling Abitur, France has the Baccalauréat; the American equivalent is the SAT, a standardized four-hour test that most U.S. colleges use to measure students’ proficiencies in arithmetic, language and other skills. The SAT is available abroad on select dates. Register in advance to secure your spot. 

Before the big day, you should study for the SAT and its cousin, the ACT, familiarizing yourself with the type of questions they’ll contain. Remember, you can always re-take the exam at a later date, if you happen to have an “off” day the first time.

Many institutions require students to take the TOEFL exam if they aren’t native English speakers. The test can be a little pricey, but it can be helpful to market you to a wider variety of educational institutions.