What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

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Our counselors answered:

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

Here is my video response to the question.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Being Competitive for Schools Outside the US

Although some universities outside the US might ask for a recommendation or an essay, most don't. UCAS, the application platform for UK universities, for instance, asks for one recommendation and a Personal Statement. Schools in most other countries will be looking at test scores and grades, so if applying to a competitive university, it is important that those results be strong. If given a chance to write an essay or Personal Statement, it is important to focus on what sets you apart and distinguishes you from other applicants, causing the admissions officers to notice you. This advice applies to application essay writing, in general. In some cases, the very fact that you will be coming from outside the country to which you're applying will make you a "person of interest".

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

Strong grades and high testing are important to colleges outside the US. Take SAT Subject Tests, AP exams and/or IB exams, the SAT or ACT. The more high scores you can show the better.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

The fundamental process is not really so different although schools outside the U.S. are not so caught up in the co-curricular aspects of one’s record nor do such things carry the same weight in the admissions process. Indeed, athletic scholarships are something which foreigners view with amazement, if not bewilderment. However they do care greatly about one’s academic interests and record. That part of your record, even more than in the U.S., is the central consideration in their decision making process. Another factor that will be given some consideration is your motivation for studying at a foreign school. What is it that you want out of the experience? Higher education is more academically centered abroad and so that is the focal point.

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

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

Be proficient in that country's language, assuming it's other than English, and far exceed whatever requirements are necessary.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What can students do to be competitive if they want to go to school outside the US?

First, students who want to go to school in a non-anglophone school must obviously be fluent in the language of instruction. Other than that, the same things that will make a student competitive at US colleges will also make them competitive at many international colleges. In addition to a rigorous curriculum, doing well on standardized tests is very important for the most competitive schools. Americans interested in being competitive at schools like Oxford or Cambridge often take a gap year to study for A level exams.