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How SEM’s International Residential Students Apply to University

It's More Complicated

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Danyun Wu, Student Writer

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Applying universities in the United States is to go through a war for most international residential students. For those students, the process of applying is very different from an American’s.

Ms. Kelly asked why no one ever seemed to go back to China to attend the university. It is barely possible for Chinese students to go to attend Chinese universities. Chinese students must pass an exam called The National College Entrance Examination. The education system in the United States and China are totally different, so it is impossible for Chinese students educated in the U.S. to pass this exam. When the Chinese residential students chose to come to the United States, they are making an 8-year choice not just a 4-year choice.

School selection is the first thing that needs to be done in the U.S. university application process – summed up in one sentence – find the school you want to go and the school may admit you. School selection can directly determine the success of the entire application. Like national students, most international/residential students started to make a list of the schools that they would like to apply to during the summer break before senior year.

The first difference between international and American students’ application process is that internatioanl students usually find an agency to help them. Faced with thousands of universities in the United States and faced with the complexity of the university application procedures and material requirements, most residential students feel confused. In order to make the application process go smoothly, international students seek the help of a third party, which is the agency.

A good agency has detailed information on American universities. The agency has a clear understanding of the whole process of application and it also has a background in assessment of students. The agency usually looks over a student’s transcript and standardized test scores to know them better. It can help the agency make a personalized application plan for the students and help the students succeed in achieving their dream of studying in the US.

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Vicky Song

“The agency basically would help the students choose the schools, modify the common essay and submit the materials that the school needed,” said SEM student Vicky Song.

However, when you step into the door of the agency, not every agency is capable and experienced in helping international students. Some of the agencies’ understanding towards the application of U.S. universities may be less than the students’.

As a traditional intermediary for more than a decade, many companies have fulfilled their role: to send students to a very small number of “cooperative institutions” or universities that have a relationship with the agencies. Their understanding of American universities is limited to these “cooperative institutions.” Outside of “partner institutions” their understanding of American education and the application to leading US universities is almost a blank.

For such agencies, their sole purpose is to send students to the designated school. In return the school pays a commission to the agency. Whether the student’s own background is suitable for the school, whether there is a better choice is not their concern. In the choice of an agency students have to keep their eyes open to these key issues.

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Fordham University—One of the universities that requires TOEFL scores.

The second difference is that international students required to take an extra English test called TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). The test consists four sections, reading, listening, speaking and writing. Some universities do not require TOFEL scores from those who complete the entire four years high schools in the United States but some do. Most international students take TOFEL just in case.

During the summer break, most residential students chose to take SAT or TOEEL lessons. They studied very hard as they desire a higher score.

The third difference is the international students are under pressure alone. “Our parents do not understand English and the application process as American parents. There is nothing they could really help. We have to rely on our own,” said Miao Yu. “We also worry about our international status will effect our application adversely.”

“The great majority of students who are admitted stand out from the rest because a lot of little things, when added up, tip the scale in their favor. So what matters most in your application? Ultimately everything matters. The good news in that is that when so many little things figure into an admissions decision, it is fruitless to worry too much about any one of them,” said Kelly, a former Immaculata Academy student, now freshman at Hofstra University.

The way the residential students and American students applying the school is indeed different, but their strong desire to attend the university is the same. “Admittance by my ideal college is my current dream. I know the road to pursue my dream will be filled with frustrations but only when I overcome these difficulties, I can successfully achieve my dream,” said Miao Yu.

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How SEM’s International Residential Students Apply to University