International Student Admissions – Tips For US Colleges

19.03.23 Application Time to read: 6min

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International student admissions in the US represent a unique and vast variety of the American educational system. Each year, more than 900,000 aspiring learners from all over the world apply to US colleges, embellishing them with a range of cultural conventions and experiences. Writing a college essay has an essential role in the application process, as it gives students the opportunity to share an insight into their aspirations, personal narrative, and why they want to go abroad.

International Student Admissions – In a Nutshell

This article will explain all you need to know about international student admissions:

  • The differences in US educational institutions
  • How to write a colleges essay for international student admissions
  • The type of language to use and the correct tone
  • The cultural advantages and experiences as an international student

Definition: International student admissions

Each US university or college sets its international student admissions criteria individually and decides which applicants meet them. You must apply separately to each university or faculty. Visit the website of the university in question and pay the application fee (if there is any) and follow their lay-out rules for the application process. Typically, you will need to complete your application form through the university’s official website where you wish to study.

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International student admissions: Differences in the US

Applying to colleges/universities in the US has many differences regarding international student admissions, as you may be used to. There are several tests, and international student admissions may also require you to submit a college essay, which is your opportunity to demonstrate your proficiency in English and explain why you would be an excellent candidate.

Here are the general tests required for international student admissions to a US institution:

English aptitude test

It includes TOEFL or IELTS, depending on the requirements of each university. Some prefer IELTS, and some prefer TOEFL.


ACT (American College Testing) is a math and logic test. The ACT consists of 4 tests: English, Reading, Mathematics and Science, plus an optional 30-minute essay.


In contrast, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) tests logic and knowledge subjects, depending on the chosen college. The difference between the ACT and SAT is insignificant, so either of the two tests is sufficient for international student admissions.

Financial aid for international student admissions

When you need financial support from a University, for example, Harvard, they do not differentiate between international student admissions or even if you are from inside or outside the United States.

Letters of recommendation for international student admissions

Letters of recommendation pose an essential part of applying to any university abroad, not just in the United States. Indeed, you have to be careful when choosing who will be solely responsible for doing this.

Copy of your certificates for international student admissions

Either a high school certificate when applying for a master’s degree or a university certificate when joining a postgraduate degree. In addition, all certificates must contain all cumulative data and estimates over all years.

Crafting a story for international student admissions

You may need to become more familiar with the American-style method of writing a personal essay to submit with your international student admissions application. Here are some tips for writing an excellent essay!

  • Think of an interesting topic: The subject of your essay should be of particular importance to you. It should reveal who you are, your values and interests, and what sets you apart from other applicants. Write about yourself, what doesn’t appear in your grades, the list of classes you attended, or any other application details. Choosing the right topic is very important. To start thinking about it, here are some questions you can ask yourself: What are the things you like and have done? What are your ambitions?
  • Write your essay: Writing takes time. Do not rush, and do not expect to finish your international student admissions essay in an afternoon. Pay particular attention to the introduction. Grab the reader’s attention to engage them in what the rest of the paper will express and reveal. Use simple words to express your ideas. You don’t need to use big words to show your level of English. Use language to express yourself, not to prove you’re smart.

Why tone matters for international student admissions

American student-professor relationships are informal compared to many other countries. US academic institutions value debate, discussion, and close collaboration between students and teachers.

In the same way, university application essays tend to be more informal compared to other academic papers. The tone can be challenging for international students to get right – it should be respectful yet conversational. Aim to express your thoughts and feelings honestly with the international student admissions officer.

Overly formal: Initially, I would like to discourse on how my family emigrated from Bongha to Seoul.

Conversational: When I was only four, my family and I said farewell to our peaceful village in rural Korea to forge a new life in the sprawling metropolis of Seoul.

Share your culture as an international student

International students can draw on many varied cultural experiences to share with admissions officers. Be authentic to yourself and write about your own unique experiences.

Don’t forget to explain any phrases, customs, or places an American international student admissions officer might be unfamiliar with. Again, provide context to help your reader understand the significance of what you’re writing about.

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In the United States, admission to some of the best universities is offered to international students on an early application basis. You must therefore be ready to submit your application as soon as possible on the start date of each admission session.

In addition, the immigration procedure following the application for university admission may take longer. Thus, the autumn start takes place from June to mid-September. Then comes the winter session, which ends in early October. And finally, the spring re-entry takes place in April.

International students with an F-1 visa are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week during their degree programmes and up to 40 hours during vacations.

Fraternities and sororities have only one goal, to succeed together. According to statistics, 85% of leaders were involved in student life at their university. Their success can largely be attributed to the strength of the USA fraternity and sisterhood networks.

A network for better living
The majority of undergraduate students often have difficulty fitting into the university campus. Fortunately, the presence of fraternities of young men and sororities of young women allows them to quickly settle in to university life. Fraternities can help students can meet new people and make new friends and easily find a university residence. Additionally, living in a sorority or fraternity can be cheaper than the dormitory alternative. However, they are also associated with secrecy and scandal at times, so the decision whether or not to join should be carefully considered.