Getting Ready for College Applications: Expert Tips for International Students By Diana Clark

Cassandra is one of the international students I am in touch with. She arrived in the United States to continue studying in one of the universities in the greater Chicago area one year ago. For her, getting accepted was like a dream because she would be studying in one of the best educational systems in the world. She anticipated and dreaded the day the university announced who was accepted, and almost jumped out of her pants when she saw her name.

You will definitely experience this kind of joy as well, but let’s spend some time on preparing you. I wrote this article to share the experience with those international students who are planning to apply for studies in the U.S. Doing your homework before applying is a big deal because you need to know your chances of getting accepted.

Let’s get you prepared.

Application Process

The first thing that I’d like to mention is that most international students have a pretty similar application process as American-born students. There is one fundamental difference, though: natives need to take ACT and SAT exams while foreigners must have a TOEFL certification that measures English proficiency.

Preparation for TOEFL should be a big deal for you because if you don’t succeed, you’re not going anywhere. Take it seriously and study as much as you can. Remember, thousands of students like you want what you want. There are at least 20 international learners in every school and college in the U.S. and the number goes up dramatically in universities. That’s a fierce competition.

Do you have any academic transcripts from your previous school? They can be useful during the application! The University of California, for example, requires transcript information such as grades, credits you received, and diplomas. Given that your school has different curriculum requirements and grading procedures than those used in the U.S., you need to show your level of academic writing and research skills (don’t forget to translate it into English if necessary!).

The next important thing is the letter of recommendation. This requirement is very common in U.S. colleges and universities and may cause some problems. What they need from you is a letter of recommendation written by your teacher or guidance counselor. Don’t forget to ask for one before you leave your school and make sure it is in English as well.

Please note that some very selective institutions require students to submit essays as a part of the application. So if you have some great piece of academic writing, make sure it’s ready to help you get accepted. Once again, don’t forget: it should be in English.


I was browsing the net the other day and found this study on Hindawi website that talked about the challenges students face in adjusting to college in the U.S. Seriously, folks, this is an incredible source as it outlines all possible issues that you could face while living and studying in the U.S.

The information was collected from international students and here’s what was found: lack of English proficiency, isolation from classmates, challenges from professors, discrimination from natives, cultural shock, and many more things are described there along with adaptation techniques used by participants of the study. Of course, this source is not as useful for me, but it can be huge for you if you are just planning to go study.

You can choose some of the issues presented in the study and research it for yourself. You won’t believe how much useful information you’ll find.

Useful tools

Speaking of useful sources, I have collected a list of tools that could be helpful for you to improve your chances of getting accepted in U.S.-based colleges and universities.

Concluding Thoughts

Dealing with application challenges may be difficult if you don’t what you need to do. Before you even consider studying in the U.S., there is a lot of work that needs to be accomplished because your chances of getting accepted will go down dramatically.

I hope this article was useful for you, so use my tips and do your best to get accepted and fulfill your dream, like Cassandra did. Believe me, it becomes a little less complicated and dreadful from there. Happy applying!


Diana Clark is an online tutor and experienced high school educator with 5 years of successful working experience. She is covering different topics concerning the online education, educational technology and provides help for international students at Admission Service. Feel free to contact her on Twitter.