Financial and visa requirements are among the most critically important, as well as most complex, challenges faced by the newly-accepted international student. In fact, these requirements can seem like a barrier, and get in the way of the student’s matriculation at her chosen university. We believe that forewarned is forearmed, and to that end, we've done some research for you.
We have summarized the key requirements at each of four US universities in the table below. Of note, you will find that requirements are presented in a different format at each of the university websites. This is the initial barrier, that of time and energy to research the requirements at the universities to which you have been accepted. Then, get ready to decipher the instructions, which are presented across multiple web pages on the university sites: in a FAQ section, a special web page for international students, PDFs attached to pages via links, multiple pages on drop-down menus for international students and more. The final barrier is execution: of the proper forms, online questionnaires, and attendance at required orientation and mandatory “check-in” sessions either in person or online.
Mitigating these barriers are the professionals on-campus who are dedicated to assisting you and other international students. Each of the universities that we researched has robust, if not consistently organized, information online. Contact information is readily available, and there are on-campus offices where you can go for assistance. Take advantage of these resources. Although barriers exist, the you are not alone as you work to understand the financial and visa requirements for your chosen university. Our message to you is to do your homework on these topics before arrival on campus.
Take a look at the table below to get a sense of how differently colleges approach these requirements. Now, get online and check out the requirements at your university!
Test preparation, aka test prep, is everywhere. Gone are the days when your only options were to buy and slog through books as big as the Yellow Pages, or to sit in a fluorescent-lit classroom with twenty other nervous high school juniors or seniors.
The books and classrooms are still there for those of you who like that sort of thing. But for the rest of you test prep seekers, you now have options. Lots of options. There is a dizzying array of online options: videos to teach you how to solve certain types of problems, practice tests, pages of test-taking tips, and even test-taking competition with peers of your choosing. Much of it is free, many require your email address at registration so that they can market services to you, and others offer access to their software and videos for a monthly or annual fee.
What do we recommend? One-to-one, and sometimes small group, tutoring. Don't get us wrong: we like to listen to Sal Kahn as much as the next guy. We also know that there are some students who have the discipline and the time to manage the test preparation process on their own. They can set up a schedule, commit to it, and carry it through using any tools, from online test prep to the test prep tomes that were around when we were your age (before the invention of Starbucks). If you are this type of student, then the online test prep offerings are right up your alley. Many students have gone the self-study route and been very successful.
But we strongly believe that every student learns a little differently, and that a personalized approach, tailored to your particular test-taking needs, is going to be more efficient with your time. We know how busy you are with your academic priorities. Find the right tutor for your learning style.
So, take a look at the vast array of test prep options available to you online, in print, and in the offices of your local test prep provider.
We're here, too, to help you navigate these decisions. Call or stop by our offices. That's where you'll find us, delivering the best available support to our students, just the way they like it.
Everyone likes the idea of receiving scholarship money. What's not to like? But how many students are willing to put in the hours and effort required to apply for scholarships and financial aid?
We promise not to sugar coat our advice. The truth is, searching for scholarships and financial aid is not for the faint-hearted.
The timing for most scholarship and financial aid applications begins in earnest after January 1. Yes, that's just when you've finished your college applications and collapsed on the sofa. There is money out there for students in grade 11, and even grades 10 and 9, but most students are motivated to search for financial support in grade 12, when the concept of going to university is on the verge of becoming a reality. We get that. Don't flog yourself about waiting to go for it, just go for it!
We are there to support you beyond the search. We recommend useful sites, but we can also be there to encourage and guide you through the sometimes arduous process of completing applications once scholarship and aid matches have been found. The good news is that you'll be a pro in essay writing by January of your grade 12 year! And when it comes to filling out financial aid forms, we can help you figure out how best to fill in those blanks.
Visit our Resources and Links page for a list of our favorite, and most helpful, sites. Is there a scholarship out there for you?
We can't say it enough: finding colleges that "fit" your wants and needs as a student, and outside the lecture hall, is the goal of your college search process.
You've read our blog post about great web sites for college search, and you've spent time on all of them. Pages upon pages in your Fiske Guide are dog-eared. Your copy of College Match by Stephen Antonoff is fraying at the corners, and you've completed the insightful self-assessment questionnaires within. The local college fair was last month, and after making the rounds, you've filled an entire book shelf with college brochures. You should be ready to narrow down your list of colleges, right?
It's time for campus visits, the gold standard for determining college fit. Campus visits can help you to differentiate between various colleges, just like test-driving a car or trying on a pair of jeans can help you to make an educated choice. Can you see yourself as a student We recommend visiting as many colleges on your preliminary list as possible. Take a tour, listen to an information session, and pick up the school newspaper. Sit in one of the dining halls at mealtime and observe. Talk to students - choose a few at random - and ask them about their favorite class or what they would change about the college if they could. If you have time, visit a class; some colleges even let you spend the night. By the time you're driving off campus, you will have a feel for whether or not you could see yourself there for the next four years, whether the campus social life is the best fit or you, and if the professors are as approachable as you'd like them to be.
Sounds great, right? Who wouldn't enjoy the road trip with parents?
Don't answer that...
Perhaps your holidays are already booked for the coming year. Maybe finances preclude you from making the rounds. Did you think that your list was all set, and all you needed was to log in to the Common Application website? What now?
Enter the age of the virtual campus tour. With a virtual tour, you can see the campus and listen to a tour guide from the comfort of your living room. "Walk" from building to building and across the quads. Follow links to videos, 360 degree photos, and other files to get an in-depth look at various points on the tour. Every college has yet to be represented, but thousands are already online.
Once again, we've done the detective work so you don't have to. The best places to start are the websites of the colleges on your list. Search in the Admissions pages of the site for virtual tours.
If the virtual tour on the college's website isn't quite what you expected, you have other options. We've reviewed some of the better known sites, and summarized our findings in the table below. Our favorites are Youniversity TV (best for students early in the search process) and YouVisit.com (better for students who are looking for rich detail). Once you've browsed these sites and taken the virtual tours, feel free to delve a little deeper. If you're interested in watching a few video interviews of students on varied topics, go to College Click TV. Just be sure to listen to these with the understanding that each is one person's opinion - to get a more balanced view, listen to several on the same topic.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, or get online, and visit!
www.collegelab.orgYou've got to start somewhere.
In the college admissions journey, the first and most important stop is self-assessment. That's right. Look inside before you look outside. Get to know yourself. It's hard (read: impossible) to find a college that fits your needs and wants if you haven't thought about what you need, or what you want.
College Match, by Stephen Antonoff, is a concise workbook with valuable insights that we use regularly with students to better understand their wants and needs. If you're tired of working on paper, you can go online to BigFuture's Step-by-Step guide. You'll find a list of questions with interactive features. By the final screen, you'll have a list of criteria that will help you in the search for the colleges that "fit" your learning style and your academic interests, as well desired location, size, campus setting, and social alternatives. Now you're ready to begin.
News flash: you don't have to sift through reams of description and statistics, or mile-high piles of college brochures to find the right fit colleges. Phew! There are some really useful books that can help you find colleges that meet your criteria. Case in point: The Fiske Guide to Colleges. We love it.
Prefer something less like a phone book? CollegeLab is one of several online tools which can personalize the college search process. It's our favorite, but we're biased (Alicia is the CEO)! Search for "college search" and you'll get almost three billion hits. That's a lot, so we've narrowed it down for you. Simply visit any one of our favorite sites, enter the criteria from your self-assessment process (the most important step - did we say that already?), and voila, your college list starts to take shape.
One more thing. Start big. Think about a funnel, broad at the top and then gently narrowing, so that the fit is just right at the bottom. Your college search process should be the same. In order to come up with the best fit at the end, you need to start with a broad list. Keep an open mind.
What are our favorite sites for college search, you ask?
This list would not be complete without mentioning Naviance, Unigo and other fee-based, online service offered by some high schools to facilitate collaboration between student, school and parents on all aspects of the college admissions process. If you are fortunate enough to have access to one of these, use it! If not, you should be all set with the resources above.