How are international students evaluated?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How are international students evaluated?

Nicholas Umphrey

How are international students evaluated?

In addition to SAT/ACT scores and grade point average, they look at the TOEFL exams.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Each school is different however there are similarities.

Each year colleges in the US receive a huge increase over last years international applicant pool. The competition for international students is heating up. Colleges have appointed readers of international applications and these readers are skilled in determining if the student has genuinely written the application or if an agency has been paid to complete the application. Admissions officers have become wise to inauthentic applications. They know how to read past a false essay and transcripts that have been altered. I once counseled an international student who was doing a fabulous job working hard on writing her essays. Her essays were not written in perfect English, but the content coupled with wonderful grades (which were honest grades) were going to produce an application that would earn her admission to a top school. A few days before her applications were due she contacted me and told me that she had re-written her essays. I read the essays and was immediately alarmed. It was obvious that her father has paid someone to write essays for her. The essays looked nothing like the essay a 16 year old girl would write and they did not reflect the rest of her application. I had to tell her father that if she submitted the new essays that she would be denied admission at every school. The father was only trying to help his daughter, but his actions were going to hurt her. The young woman made the right choice and submitted her own writing. She was admitted to excellent schools and is a proud member of her freshman class. If she had used the essay that her father paid for she would have never been accepted to college. International applications are read more carefully than domestic applications. I predict that with the advent of skype that students will be required to have an interview at the schools that they are applying to. Their spoken English skills will need to match their written applications.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Evaluation of International Students

In general, international students are evaluated by the same standards as domestic students, but having said that, there are clearly differences that could make an international student stand out. Many schools are interested in increasing their international populations, thus supporting their developing awareness of the importance of global interactions. The experiences that an international student has had, if well presented, could catch the eye of the evaluator. A school might also be interested in diversifying its international population, so if the student comes from a country which is not already strongly represented on the campus, that could make him/her a "person of interest". With regard to standardized testing, approaches vary. Some institutions no longer require the SAT or ACT from any of their applicants, domestic or international; some schools have adjusted expectations for the test results of international students; and some institutions require international students to meet the same standardized test score expectations as domestic students. Exact information about test requirements can be found on the institution's website. If you then need further clarification, you could contact the admissions offices of the schools in which you are interested. Depending on the international student's native language and the language in which the student received his/her high school education, TOEFL or IELTS scores might be required as verification of English language proficiency. Information about specific requirements can also be found on the institutional websites. A final note: Be sure to check the financial aid policies for the schools in which you are interested. Policies vary from institution to institution, and while some have generous aid offers for international students - usually in the form of merit-based aid, there is little to no need-based aid available. A small number of schools, however, do say that they will meet the financial need of every student who is admitted, BUT their concept of your financial need may differ from your own. Because there is usually little need-based aid available to international students, admission could be adversely affected if an institution does not feel that it can meet a student's financial aid requirements. In other words, a student could be denied admission if the school cannot provide the needed financial support. Look into whether admission at a given institution is "need-blind", meaning that they do not consider how much financial need a student may have before admitting him/her, or "need-aware", which means that they consider how much financial support a student might need from the institution before extending an admission offer.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

How are international students evaluated?

Just as any other student, your academic credentials are always the first and most important piece of your application. Colleges want to know that you can handle the level of academic and the pace that it is delivered at their institution. You course selection, grades for each course and its relevance to the major you are seeking as well as the trend of your grades are major considerations. In addition, as an international student to the US they will assess your English skills via standardized exams such as the TOEFL. If you meet their standards on this level you have passed the largest hurdle to gaining admissions. Keep in mind that many schools will evaluate your transcript vary differently. Some have experts within their college who can do this. Other schools require you to have it translated and evaluated by and organization such as the World Educational Services (WES). It is always a good idea to understand what the process will be for you as it always takes longer for this process to happen. Therefore, careful and early planning is necessary if you are going to give yourself sufficient time to meet the deadlines.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

How are international students evaluated?

Short Answer: International students are evaluated the same way American students are evaluated: by the strength of their academic record and test scores. Detailed Answer: Most major colleges and universities have individuals in the admissions office who are experts at analyzing international transcripts and test scores – whether it’s TOEFL or IELTS, or O-Levels, etc. We have a saying here: The best predictor of success is past success. This means that if you did well on your academics before, you will probably do well in the future. So we look to see past academic success. What admissions counselors often see are students who present very strong math scores on tests, but their English language skills are weak. Students whose academic work is strong and who present strong scores on the TOEFL will be considered good candidates for admission. However, an increasing topic of concern at colleges is the difficulty that international students have with verbal communication –in other words, they often don’t understand what is being communicated in the classroom by the professor. The professor may use idiomatic expressions that are unknown to international students, or speak too quickly, or their fellow students may communicate in a shorthand manner of speaking that is mystifying. This is something that the IELTS evaluates, and why these scores are sometimes requested. An interview via Skype or phone may be requested, as well. This is why many international students opt to begin their studies at a smaller, less pressure American college. At a smaller college with fewer international students, they may have as many opportunities for language and cultural immersion as they would at an elite institution, but they will have the more relaxed challenge of improving their English skills via one-on-one interaction with their professors. In addition, I want to make sure you know the following: If you do opt to begin your studies at a small college, make sure they have adequate academic and social support programs for their international students. Many American colleges are beginning to actively recruit international students, but they do not have the infrastructure and student life programs to support you in a strange new culture. It is important that wherever you decide to attend college in the U.S., make sure they don’t just want your money: They want YOU, and they care enough about you to take care of your needs once you arrive on campus.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How are international students evaluated?

With more scrutiny than ordinary students, but they are often multi-lingual, very well traveled and have much to add to the diversity of the student population. Colleges also verify that they can afford to pay w/$0 in financial aid.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How are international students evaluated?

International students are usually evaluated in pretty much the same holistic manner as domestic students.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How are international students evaluated?

At many colleges, international students are evaluated using the same criteria as domestic students. The major difference is that financial aid for international students is often much more limited. Many colleges required that international students submit the certification of finances along with their application. In addition to the standard testing requirements for all students, international students are often required to submit the TOEFL.

Theresa Leary

How are international students evaluated?

The most important criteria for admission for international students is their academic achievement followed closely by their English language ability. Like domestic students, international students should have followed rigorous secondary school curriculums and achieved excellent grades in order to be considered top candidates for admission. English language ability is also crucial as the schools want to know that you can succeed on their campuses. The ability to read and write at a level that keeps pace with native speakers is essential.