This month I will focus on writing about furthering your studies in the US. I know that many international students hope to come back to the States upon their high school graduation. In order to be prepared when the day comes, I decided to share some tips and other “things to know’’ :)
1) Choose HARD classes!
When you talk to most of the international students, they will tell you how schools in the US are easy and how you do not have to do homeworks or study. Not exactly true. If your school back home does not give you any requirements of what classes to take abroad, it’s up to you to choose the difficulty levels. It is a huge difference between having PE, Music, Photography, or Magazine and Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, American History... Almost all American high schools offer Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes that most of the foreign students do not even know exist. They are practically a must if you would like to get into good schools. Not to mention they bring scholarships AND college credits. Difference between the regular and Honors or AP classes is not only in difficulty levels but also in the highest possible grade. You may have heard that the GPA in the US is on a 4.0 scale, however, in AP and Honors classes, grade A equals to 5! That is the reason why your weighted GPA may exceed a 4.0 scale. Higher GPA in most cases means better scholarships and greater chances of getting accepted into your desired school/program.
So no, if you are taking AP classes you will have to work hard and it is not super easy.
P.S- AP classes are also requirements for getting into some European Universities, so if you change your mind last minute about staying in the US, you did not work harder for nothing.
2) SAT / ACT tests
The SAT and ACT tests are tests that measure reading, writing and math levels of High School Juniors and Seniors. It is required when applying to US universities as well as anywhere around the world (if you are applying with US High School Diploma).
Most Universities will want your test scores when applying so you have to make sure to take the tests soon enough to get results in time for the application deadlines. In order to do well on these tests, preparation is required. There are many practice books with explanation available in bookstores as well as online. You can also talk to your school counselors to determine which test is the right fit for you. Sometimes schools offer free test preparations and sometimes they do not. If they do not, the costs for getting a tutor that studies with you are about $200.
3) Google is Your Best Friend
You will most likely be on your own when it comes to college applications. Many school counselors do not know a lot about applying as a non-US citizen which is understandable, so be prepared to spend hours searching online. All deadlines and requirements will be DIFFERENT for international students so be careful!
As you might know, international tuitions can be up to $60,000/ year with or even without housing. Because this is too expensive for the majority, here is what you can do. Look for PRIVATE universities. It is proven that State Universities are much more expensive for foreign students and offer a lot lower scholarships. I am currently finishing my senior year in Arizona, and the tuition costs for Arizona State University is $40,000. I would be eligible for a $10,000 scholarship. About half an hour away, there is a private University, Grand Canyon University, whose tuition costs are $16.000 and scholarships up to $9.000. Private Universities have more donors and usually a lot more money….
5) Community College
You may hear about the so called Community College. Many students that can not afford to go to University right after high school can complete their first two years at community college, and transfer to a university later. They live at home and because the tuition is close to nothing, it works great. Not so much for international students…. The tuition for non-citizens can be $10.000+, not to mention you would have to find an apartment and live by yourself.
6) Not Sure What to Study? Don't Panic!
A good thing about universities in the States is that you are able to change your major practically any time before or even after the school year starts. If you are not sure what you want to study when applying, you can pick whatever and switch that up to two weeks before you start with your classes.There is also lots of general subjects for the first few years like English or Math, so if you decide to switch your major after a year, you will not have to re-start with the first year on a different program and lose the entire year (in Europe, you would have to).
7) College Counselors Know Almost All
After few months when you get used to classes, grading system and language, make sure you ‘followed’’ my first three steps. When you find some colleges that you like, you have to get in touch with them. Write emails, make calls, or schedule a visit. University counselors know everything you need to know and you suddenly will not be alone anymore. They most likely have many international students and they understand exactly what you are going through and what kind of help you need.
8) End of High School
Your final decision about where you will be continuing your studies has to be made by May 1st. That means all you have to do after, is enjoy the time you have left being a High School Student. I personally, am just so EXCITED about graduation, Prom, Senior prank and other upcoming ‘Senior benefits’.
Do not forget you still have finals and AP exams to take so it is not all just fun and games, but if you have come this far, that is going to be a piece of cake!
I really hope this will help anyone who is thinking about staying! Keep in mind that Educatius is also partner with many Universities around the country and offers pretty good scholarships so if interested, make sure to talk to your representatives or local coordinator!
HAPPY ALMOST SUMMER…….. :)