There are so many reasons to study abroad. You’ll get to experience new cultures, learn (or perfect) another language, and have experiences you just couldn’t back home. For many students, this is also their opportunity to study and learn at a top university.
If you earn a spot at a top university, there’s more than a respectable degree on the line. There are internships, co-ops, clubs and organizations, and research projects as well. By participating in these, you significantly increase your chance at an amazing career.
First, you have to accomplish one thing. You’ve got to get that letter of acceptance! It’s not easy, but there are some things you can do to improve your chances.
Get an Early Start!
Students who are applying for universities where they live sometimes begin the process a year or more in advance. As an international student, you might want to get an earlier start than that. Remember, you’ve got a lot of steps to take.
You have to research schools that interest you, learn about the culture and social life in other countries, then fill out the application paperwork. If there are admissions tests, you’ll have to take those as well. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Leave yourself enough time to get everything done. Space can fill up quickly, and there may be limited seats for students from other countries.
Choose a Reach School
If you’re going to go for it, then really go for it! A reach school is the school that you challenge yourself to get into. Think of your dream school, perhaps one that has very strict entrance requirements. You’ll have to ‘reach’ to earn your spot there.
By applying to a ‘reach’ school, you can give yourself plenty of motivation to do great things. Study hard! Get amazing grades. Get active in your school now. Play sports! Work hard to earn great test scores. Who knows, if you do very well, you might just get an acceptance letter from your reach school.
If you don’t think about how well you will do. All of that work will pay off anyway, when other schools are eager to have you attend.
Get Your Visa Application And Other Paperwork in Order
This is another challenge that international students face. You will need to have your student Visa ready to go. Schools that accept foreign students need to be careful to only reserve spots for those who are definitely able to attend. If you can’t tell a school that your Visa is ready, they may pass you up for a student who has the right paperwork.
In addition to your student visa, there will probably other paper work you need. This includes:
- Immunization Records
- Test Scores
- Letters of Recommendations
You can help ensure that everything is processed quickly and correctly by having it professionally translated and certified. PickWriters publishes a list of online translation services that you can choose for this task.
To learn exactly what is required of you, contact the schools to which you are applying. Many will have an international admissions department. Someone there should be able to provide you with the information that you need.
Write an Amazing Essay or Personal Statement
If you are an undergraduate student, you will almost certainly be asked to submit an application essay. In some cases, this will be on a topic of your choice. However, many schools are relying on the ‘common application’. This is a universal application used by many schools.
The good news is that you only have to fill out the application once, and you only have to write one essay. The bad news is that you are limited to the topic choices they give you.
In any case, you have to do an amazing job. Your essay could truly make the difference in your getting accepted or not. Sometimes, the choice comes down to two students. An amazing essay can put your application over the top.
Your essay should prove that you are an excellent fit for your school of choice. It should highlight your best characteristics. Your essay should also be unique and interesting. Consider sharing a story about your life that you think reflects who you are.
If you are applying to a graduate program, you will probably have to submit a personal statement. This explains why you are interested in pursuing your field, what you have accomplished as an undergraduate, and why you should be selected for the program to which you are applying.
Make Connections Early
Applying to a large university can be intimidating. You might worry that you will become lost in a sea of applications. Before you panic, just remember that even large schools are made up of smaller departments, academic programs, and colleges. If you start making connections early, you can get to know other students, and instructors in your programs of interest.
Start by finding your school on social media. Like and follow the school, but then do a bit more research. Many academic departments have their own social media pages. Follow those as well. Reach out to department heads and instructors. Let them know that you’re interested in their program. If even one or two people recognize your name, that’s a good thing. These connections can also lead to some great advice.
Finally, if your school puts out any newsletters or other publications, consider subscribing to them now. Stay up to date on everything from academics to athletics. It will show that you have a long-standing interest in the school.
Final Thoughts: Take Advantage of Every Opportunity
If you see an opportunity to increase your chance at being accepted, go for it. Learn what universities are looking for. Whether it’s amazing grades, athletics, or something else. Put yourself out there. Get involved! Universities want interesting, accomplished students who can prove they are hard workers. Do what you can to become that student. Take part in summer programs. Complete work study programs. Do volunteer work.