Applying as an International Student: How is it Different?

Applying as an International Student: How is it Different?

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From Bridge-U Blog: All the information you need about applying to universities as an international student.

In this blog post, we speak to both admissions officers and students to find out how applying as an international student is different.

Application season is suddenly upon us, and international students the world over are asking themselves how they can craft competitive applications for their universities of choice. The challenges that face international students are distinct from those facing students applying in their own countries. The language on the application can be confusing, the funding situation for international students is ambiguous, and it is ever more unclear what admissions officers are considering when they read international students’ applications. In this blog post, we spoke to an admissions officer from the University of Virginia and an international undergraduate student at Yale to find out more about the experience of applying to university as an international student and how it’s different.


application form

The application 

Each country has different practices for admitting students to university, and as an international student it’s important to shape your application in such a way that you demonstrate that you meet the criteria to apply for admission. Sometimes, though, students might assume they are ineligible due to misinformation! According to Senior Assistant Dean of Admission at the University of Virginia, Senem Kudat Ward, a common mistake that international students applying to U.Va make is the assumption that U.Va requires an interview as part of the admissions process. This is probably because interviews in countries outside the U.S. are sometimes used as the key basis for admission or rejection. She says: “U.Va. does NOT use interviews in the admission review process, and we’d like to make sure that students know that they are not required to visit Grounds (what we call our campus).” Students therefore should not assume that they must be able to visit a university before applying, or even in the process of applying.

Ivy, a student from Kenya who is now an undergraduate at Yale, agrees that tailoring your application to fit foreign standards can be one of the challenges associated with applying to university as an international student. She explained to us that the most confusing thing about applying to the U.S. to study was “deciding what documents to send and which ones not to. People told me that I should attach my certificates of participation/merit, which was misleading because on one hand I did not want to hurt my chances by underselling myself, but on the other I felt like all my certificates would make my application bulky.” As Ivy’s experience demonstrates, her academic qualifications differed from those of her American classmates, and it was difficult for her to reconcile her educational experiences with the requirements. For this reason, it’s best to start early on your applications—and never hesitate to seek help!

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