There are many good reasons to come to the United States for higher education. The U.S. has over 4,000 colleges and universities to choose from, offering a rich array of academic, cultural, and recreational opportunities. Students from international baccalaureate (I.B.) programs may be able to get college credit for work they’ve already completed, and studying in America is a great way to improve your English skills. But there are some big differences between college admissions in the U.S. and other countries. Here are some key points to keep in mind – and be sure to check out our video on American college admissions for international students, too! Students applying to graduate school in the US will find this article helpful as well.

1. There is no universal system of college admissions in the United States. For example, some colleges require that you submit scores on the SAT or ACT, and other colleges have a “test-optional” policy. Some colleges have additional or “supplemental” essay questions on the application. Some universities admit more than half of all applicants, while others are extremely selective.

2. Most colleges have a “holistic” approach to admissions. Nearly all schools will look closely at your coursework, grades, and test scores, but some will also consider your activities outside of class (such as clubs, sports, jobs, and hobbies), your character or personality, your race, whether you have close relatives who attended the school, how interested you are in attending, and other factors.

3. You may be asked to demonstrate proficiency in English. Often this means achieving a minimum score on a test such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Some schools will admit you even if you don’t meet this standard, and then require that you attend an intensive English language course to prepare you for study in America. If you are coming from an English-speaking school or country, you may be exempt from this requirement.

4. Colleges typically ask for proof that you can cover the cost of attendance. You may need to sign a statement certifying that you have sufficient funds, and you may need to obtain documentation from your bank as well.

5. College is expensive, and financial aid may not be available. Private colleges can cost over $75,000 per year; public universities tend to be somewhat less. You can apply for aid, but doing so may affect your chances of admission. You may be able to find other sources of aid, such as your own government.

6. Moving to a new country will be a big adjustment. It may be very exciting, but it is likely to be unsettling and stressful at times as well. Fortunately, some colleges have excellent services for international students, including special orientations, housing, tutoring, and counselors.

Want to learn more about studying in the U.S. and choosing the right college for you? Top College Consultants can provide a webinar or PowerPoint presentation on this topic to families or groups, and we can help you begin the journey to college. Contact us today!