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Attending college outside of one’s home country is often pursued by students seeking access to stellar institutions and educational resources. Whether you are looking to attend a foreign college to study economic mobility, applied arts, or another area of study, here are four tips for applying for college successfully as an international student.

1. Score High On Exams

Those pursuing university outside of their home country are often required to take a language exam. In the effort to get more done in less time, get these exams out of the way in high school if you can. For U.S. colleges, English is pursued as a second language, with two tests administered for interested students. International students must pass the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or the IELTS, the International English Language Testing System.

Work with college admissions assistance to determine what scores you need to be considered by your prospective schools. Depending on the university you are looking to get into, the demands for scores will vary. On average, international first-year students score in the 97th percentile, despite prestigious universities looking for placement in the 75th to 80th percentile. As you can see, becoming a strong English speaker is imperative to getting into a top school.

2. Prioritize Soft Factors

While you should put weight on grades and deadlines, soft factors play a role in the admissions process. Your essays and extracurricular activities are two crucial factors that can get you further in the consideration process as a university applicant.

Additionally, crafting a better essay means putting emphasis and passion into your admissions essay. Not including a personal touch in your writing can drastically hold you back. Universities want to know who you are, what you care about, and why attending their school means so much to you. By putting effort into these soft factors, you may be given priority, despite any issues with scoring results on your exams.

3. Early Transcript Evaluation

For U.S. citizens applying for university in the U.S., admissions officers quickly make sense of the curriculum and scoring systems used for transcript evaluation. For international students, the process is not so easy. American admission officers will not understand the educational systems and scoring methods different countries and individual schools use.

Gathering all of the services you need for transcript evaluation is its own long process. It will take some time to have your credentials checked and verified. These verifications will likely take place by a third-party agency. Have your transcript verified early on so that you can focus on the other application requirements.

4. Meet Your Deadlines

Although there are many requirements to meet to apply to a given university, the amount of time needed to get these things together can catch students by surprise. It is essential to know the deadlines involved for individual schools, including any crucial deadlines for early decisions. Students must also learn when to prepare for Subject Tests, complete financial aid forms, and submit their Common App.

You want to give your teachers enough time to complete their recommendations before you need to submit all of your materials. Make sure you know your deadlines like the back of your hand to avoid missing out on something important.

The Bottom Line

International students striving to get into a foreign university must be diligent with their deadlines, exam scores, and transcript evaluations. In addition to prioritizing one’s time, emphasizing personal passion and interest in prospective schools is more important than some students realize. For the best results, follow the above guidelines above as you apply to college!