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How Command Education Empowers International Students

Feb 22, 2024

Applying to colleges and universities in the United States can be a daunting task for international students navigating an unfamiliar admissions process. From understanding application requirements to tailoring application components to different academic and cultural standards, the process presents unique challenges for students who are less familiar with the intricacies of the U.S. system.

Command Education Senior Mentors have helped students from all over the world achieve success and earn admission to their dream U.S. schools. If you are an international student seeking guidance in the application process, here are Command Education’s five expert tips for applying to schools in the U.S.:

1. Start Strategizing Early

The U.S. college application process can be lengthy and complex, so it is crucial for international students to start early and plan ahead. American colleges take a student’s grades, activities, and accomplishments into consideration starting freshman year of high school (Year 10 in the British school system), so you should strive to set a strong foundation of high grades, leadership and consistent, impactful participation and leadership in campus life. Additionally, you and your family should begin researching schools, admission requirements, and application deadlines well in advance to ensure that you have ample time to develop a strong applicant profile, study for and take standardized tests (such as the SAT, ACT or TOEFL), and prepare application materials. Starting early also allows students to explore scholarship and financial aid opportunities available for international students, which may have their own deadlines and requirements.

2. Prioritize Extracurricular Involvement

One of the most distinct elements of the U.S. admissions process is the emphasis placed on extracurricular activities. Top U.S. colleges and universities seek to admit students who have distinct passions and who engage deeply with their interests by contributing to their school or community. Participating in extracurricular activities not only enhances your college applications in the long run, but it also allows you to develop valuable skills, build meaningful relationships, and explore your passions outside of the classroom. Whether it’s joining a sports team, participating in student government, volunteering for community service projects, or joining clubs and organizations related to your interests, getting involved in extracurriculars demonstrates your leadership abilities, teamwork skills, and dedication to personal growth and development. Be selective in choosing activities that align with your interests and values, and strive to make meaningful contributions that showcase your strengths and passions.

3. Develop a Passion Project

Because many international students will not have access to the same opportunities as U.S. students, one of the best ways that an international student can set themselves apart from their peers is by developing a unique passion project. A passion project is a self-directed endeavor that allows you to pursue a topic, cause, or activity that you are deeply passionate about and that aligns with your academic and personal goals. Whether it’s starting a blog, creating a YouTube channel, conducting research, launching a community service initiative, or pursuing a creative endeavor, developing a passion project allows you to showcase your unique talents, interests, and accomplishments. Admissions officers are impressed by applicants who take the initiative to pursue their passions outside of the classroom and positively impact their communities. By creating a passion project, you not only demonstrate your leadership and creative thinking abilities, but also show that you are a motivated and proactive individual who is committed to making a difference in the world.

4. Familiarize Yourself with Application Requirements

Application requirements for international students may vary from school to school, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of each school you are applying to, including standardized test scores, English language proficiency exams (such as the TOEFL or IELTS), academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and supplementary essays. In the fall during which you intend to apply, make detailed lists of each school’s application requirements and set goals for yourself regarding the dates by which you intend to complete each application. Writing these dates on a calendar and posting it in a shared space within your home can enable your family to help you stay accountable as you compile your materials.

5. Seek Expert Guidance

Navigating the U.S. application system is challenging, but international students do not have to do so alone. Whether enlisting the help of a tutor to prepare for the ACT or SAT or receiving more comprehensive support from a private college admissions consultant, there are abundant resources that international students can utilize. Command Education’s expert Senior Mentors provide unlimited, one-on-one support for international students as they prepare their application profiles and embark on the admissions process. If you need further support with your U.S. college application, check out Command Education’s international student hub—featuring specific resources for students applying from China, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the UK, and more—and schedule a free consult today!

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