Preparing Students to Study Abroad

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A large part of my job is preparing students to study abroad. The number of students going abroad is increasing each year. International students make up one of the fastest growing student demographics in many top universities. Take Stanford for example - over 22% of the student body is international.

Additionally, international students generally pay full tuition, as financial aid to foreign students is only offered to about 2% of accepted international students. This guaranteed tuition for universities may factor into the number of international students accepted.

The guidelines and requirements for international students applying to Ivy League schools are vastly different from American students. These requirements include proving that their family has the money to pay for university, applying for student visas, taking the IELTS or TOEFL (English proficiency test), and arriving earlier for international student orientations.

I help students prepare for visa interview by roleplaying I also help students to differentiate themselves from the pack by including any extracurricular activities, and/or community involvement they may have had in their application. The focus here in China and other countries is very much on pure academics. Many students aren’t aware of the value that universities place on being a well-rounded individual.

One of the biggest weaknesses in a lot of my student’s applications is a poorly written essay. There are companies that help students apply to universities and they write the essay for the students. In many cases the essays are generic and executed in a Mad Lib fashion (insert student name here, hobby here). Many times these types of essays are illogical and full of errors.

Schools abroad also have a lot more extracurricular activities. In China there are not a whole lot of activities other than student council, but abroad you can definitely explore a lot of different interests. I try and get students to identify their interest and explore new ones. You would be surprised at how many students go aboard and haven’t even researched their prospective schools properly. They mainly focus on the schools ranking. This decision is more of a family/cultural one.

Preparing to go abroad is difficult for a young person so I try to give them the tools they need to adapt and the encouragement to thrive and step outside of their comfort zone.

2 thoughts on “Preparing Students to Study Abroad

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