Flywire Friday: Top News of the Week for International Students – February 5, 2016

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Here’s what we read this week:

Redefining what it means to be a good student. Harvard Graduate School of Education recently published a report, summarized in boston.com, in which they called for admissions officials to focus more on a student’s compassion and less on his or her extracurricular activities and test scores. This could potentially level the playing field for lower-income students while also reducing the pressure placed on higher-income applicants to de-prioritize their personal interests.

Think before you post. eCampus News reports that 40 percent of admissions officers now visit applicants’ social media pages, which can influence the status of their application. Admissions officers check for a number of reasons, such as learning more about a student’s special talents, verifying awards he or she claims to have earned, and checking for a criminal record.

Travel, learn, then lead! A report by Egon Zehnder shows that in an increasingly global business world, many of the top US businesses either do not have foreign directors or directors with foreign work experiences. According to Forbes, by studying abroad, students can gain the global outlook and experience that companies will need.

 

Read past Flywire Friday posts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

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Navigating the College Admissions Interview as an International Student

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The college admissions interview is undoubtedly an insightful experience for all college-bound students, and for international applicants, it offers several specific advantages. Exploring a college from another country can seem difficult or outright impossible, but the admissions interview—whether conducted in person or via Skype—is your opportunity to do just that. Furthermore, you can create advocates for your application, and form contacts within the college community. Consider these tips for navigating the college admissions interview as an international student:

Conduct mock interviews with English speakers

While an admissions interview is not an English language exam, it can provide the school with a glimpse of your English language abilities. For this reason, you should prepare well in advance. Prior to your college admissions interview, jot down answers to commonly asked questions, which you can easily find online. Then, ask an English teacher or an advanced English speaker to review your answers with you, and to practice the overall interviewing process several times.

By conducting a mock interview, not only are you allowing yourself to practice fluid and coherent responses, you are also alleviating any nerves by building a compelling personal narrative. (And a stellar interview can reinforce a strong Test of English as a Foreign Language [TOEFL] score, or help to lessen the negative impact of a low mark.) When it is finally time for you to meet with the college admissions officer, you will appreciate the preparation and likely feel more relaxed throughout the interview.

Establish a connection to the college

Like most students, you have probably browsed a prospective school’s website several times. Take a moment to identify those academic opportunities (including majors), extracurricular activities, and aspects of campus life that interest you most, and then research their connections to groups and classes on campus and within the community. Finally, mention these findings in your admissions interview to demonstrate that you have a keen interest in the college, and that you have already envisioned yourself there.

Focus on what makes you unique

Having an individual who advocates for your potential as a student is a true advantage. A positive recommendation from your interviewer can set you apart from other applicants, and a successful admissions interview can add dimension to the claims you make in your application. So, be sure to integrate your authentic self with your high-performing self. Think about what makes you unique, and then highlight these details.

Prepare questions of your own

While it may seem counter-intuitive, it is important to prepare several questions for your interviewer, in order to show him or her your passion for the school. In fact, your interviewer will most likely ask you outright if you have any questions. Your questions should illustrate that you have already envisioned yourself as a student at that college, and that you aspire to make meaningful contributions to the campus culture.

If you view your interview as an opportunity to construct a strong platform for admission, you may well receive that coveted acceptance letter. Consider these tips for navigating your college admissions interview, and look forward to success!

 

Sasa Afredi is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

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Loving College Life: The On and Off Campus Experience

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Housing is one of the most basic needs you have as a college undergrad or graduate student, but you have options about where to go. Generally, you can live either on or off campus, based on your budget, needs and personal preferences. Which you pick has a huge effect on the overall experience you get through your academic journey. Here are a few factors to think about when you consider whether to live on or off campus.

Roommates

If you opt for on-campus housing in the dorms, you likely will be assigned at least one roommate. It’s standard for you to have to share your bedroom as well as a common living space, but some colleges are set up to offer more privacy, with each student getting their own bedroom. The majority of institutions allow you to submit a roommate request if you know someone you’d like to live with, but there might be stipulations, such as not living with someone of the opposite gender. If you go off campus, you can have your entire apartment to yourself if you want. For some students, this is essential, as the added privacy and quiet helps them feel comfortable and study. If you decide to get a roommate–a great way to lower your rent and other utility costs–you can screen them yourself to find someone you think you’ll get along well with.

Freedom

Most college dorms are overseen by resident advisors (RAs), who enforce rules about quiet times, use of common laundry or kitchen areas, visitors and so forth. Additionally, because you share space or other resources with your roommate(s), you cannot always complete tasks or entertain yourself in the way you want. By contrast, if you find an off-campus property you do not have anyone watching over you the way an RA would. As long as you abide by the general rules stated in your lease, you can do what you like when you please, such as cooking, watching television or staying out later. The added freedom, however, might come at the expense of lower security. Your apartment complex, for instance, might not have campus police regularly patrolling or someone posted inside your entrance at night.

Money

Off-campus housing is often cheaper than opting for a dorm room, but not always. The cost of utilities the university normally includes, such as Internet and electricity, quickly can bump up the price of having an apartment, and you also must factor in the added cost of gas or public transportation fees with your commute. Some students find they save money living off campus because they can choose their own types and quantities of groceries, avoiding meal plans that tend to be inflated in cost. One other big consideration here is that, when you live on campus, you generally don’t have to deal with utility or other providers yourself–the college does that for you after you pay your semester or annual fees. With an apartment, you must shoulder more responsibility. You usually have recurring payments every month involving many providers. You must keep track of and handle these on your own, so budgeting becomes more critical. Dorm living also doesn’t help establish your credit and rental history the way living off campus does.

Meeting Others

Almost all colleges provide some opportunities for students to meet and interact with each other, but the culture from college to college can be very different. For instance, in a smaller college, the student body might provide good opportunities to socialize but be very closely knit, lacking a broader view of the town or city. In this type of situation, living off campus can expose you to other opportunities in the area where you can meet people who don’t necessarily fit the campus demographics. By contrast, if your college is very large, there might be more than enough diversity to challenge you right on campus. Off-campus housing might mean you have to work harder to stay connected with your campus friends or groups.

As a college student, you can choose to live on or off campus. Both of these options provide very different experiences and have their own unique advantages and drawbacks. The majority of students who live in the dorms find dorm life invigorating and positive with some minor difficulties, often because of roommate conflicts or general noise. Those who opt for off-campus housing usually have few regrets and concentrate well, but not everyone is ready for the added adult responsibilities having their own place requires. If you’re still not sure whether to live on campus or in your own place, it’s a good idea to talk to others at the college you’re considering. They likely will have insights specific to the institution that others might not.

 

Thomas Browne is a property consultant and a Dad of 2 older teens. He has recently been exposed to the college housing issue and enjoys blogging on these topics. See FrankInnes for more college/university housing options. 

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5 Things International Students Should Know About U.S. College Admissions

 

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Applying for college can be a stressful, especially for international students. Testing, different school requirement conditions, applying for a visa, and other requirements make it a challenging time.  But by understanding the five points below, you can increase your chances of getting accepted to the U.S. college of your choice while also making the admissions process less stressful.

1. Test scores matter

 Most U.S. colleges require international students to submit their scores on either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  As the IELTS applies to other English-speaking countries around the world, you will most likely take the TOEFL. The TOEFL can be costly and requires significant preparation. Most programs will also require SAT test results. International Baccalaureate Organization scores are also valuable, if you have them.

2. Every school’s requirements are different

 U.S. colleges are not required by law to follow uniform admissions procedures. As a result, each university’s specific admissions requirements are unique. Some universities will require that you submit different sets of documentation to the office of admissions and your major department. There are programs which ask for letters of recommendation and those that do not, and even some that require interviews. Take time to communicate with the admissions office, stick to deadlines and plan ahead to avoid stress.

3. You must obtain and maintain a visa

 To be allowed to work or take college courses within the U.S., you must first obtain an entry visa. You must coordinate with your consulate to arrange the required documents and schedule the necessary interviews involved in the visa issuing process. Account for visa processing time in your application schedule, and visa fees in your budget. If your visa expires while you are in the United States, you will not be able to leave and re-enter the country without renewing it. There can be other serious legal repercussions to staying in the United States without a legal visa. Always be aware of the expiration date on your visa, and keep this document safe.

4. Financial aid

 While it is true that most grants and scholarships available in the US apply only to US citizens, there are options for international students when seeking financial aid. Some universities offer full scholarships for international students. Because you will need to demonstrate to the college you plan to attend your ability to pay, you should begin researching your options as soon as possible. Discuss any financial aid concerns you have and go over all of your questions with the admissions office. Many of the funding options available to you are provided by your own government, organizations, and institutions. As with most aspects of the international application process, research and organization is required. International organizations like Fulbright, and Rotary are two popular, albeit selective scholarship options for qualified international applicants.

5. Plan ahead, ease the transition

Being far away from your everyday environment, culture, and loved ones is a formidable challenge. Think about ways to make your transition smoother, like budgeting with the admissions office, arranging for housing, banking and healthcare ahead of time, and planning for a healthy academic and social life when you arrive. While there are bound to be moments of raw culture shock, there are extracurricular activities to suit any taste, and often courses or seminars are available through the college or community to help ease the transition for international students. The campus will also be likely to have a number of orientation programs available through the international house or office. There, you will also find information on student organizations and clubs, language classes, employment and internships.

* * *

As daunting as the task may seem, there are great opportunities available to international students in the United States. Find the best fully accredited program for you, and study hard to meet its testing standards. Research the program’s unique requirements and stay organized to avoid confusion. Arrange your visa and holiday travel plans ahead of time. Your best financial aid options might be closer to home than you think, but be sure to ask your college for financial aid counseling to increase your chances of saving money. Being an international student definitely comes with challenges beyond logistics, so take advantage of the networks in place to help students adjust and meet each other. Put these tips to good use and plan for your best success as you complete the admissions process.

Sasa Afredi is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

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Can I Work While I Study Abroad?

startup-photosThis guest post originally appeared on the GoToStudy blog. GoToStudy specializes in helping overseas students find the their ideal university and course, and connecting them with consulting agencies that can guide them to their goal.

This is a common question from prospective international students. Working while studying provides a useful source of income, and it can also be a great way to make new friends, improve your language skills, and acquire some solid general work experience.

However, the rules and conditions for international student employment are complex and they change frequently. Governments may change their policies in reaction to local employment conditions or the mood of the electorate. For example, it was recently announced that the UK government will cancel work rights for students on certain visas.

If you’re interested in working while studying abroad, here is a general overview, provided by GoToStudy, of the requirements and restrictions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. Remember to check the government websites for the most updated policies before pursuing any type of employment.

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Tips for Success on the TOEFL Writing Section

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), a standardized assessment of English-language proficiency, can be an intimidating obstacle for international students. The last section of the test, the writing section, is particularly challenging because it requires more than just reading well in English.

The writing section is divided into two parts. In the first part, integrated writing, you will be asked to read a passage and listen to a lecture on the same topic, then write an essay that combines information from both of these sources. In the second section, independent writing, you will be asked to write an essay based upon personal experience.

It may be daunting to take an exam in a different language, but you can succeed with a little focus and a lot of preparation. Here are some tips for how to succeed on the TOEFL writing section.

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11 Tips Students Must Read Before Applying for a UK Tier 4 Visa

photo-1429216967620-ece20ff3a5f9This guest post originally appeared on the GoToStudy blog. GoToStudy specializes in helping overseas students find the their ideal university and course, and connecting them with consulting agencies that can guide them to their goal.

You’ve chosen to attend a university or college in the UK and you’ve been accepted to a course of study. Congratulations! Now it’s time to apply for your UK study visa.

You’re eligible to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and meet the eligibility requirements. You can’t apply for the Tier 4 visa until you receive your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from your UK institution, but you can get all of your application forms and paperwork ready to go in advance.

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Flywire Friday: This Week’s Top News for International Students – October 23, 2015

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Here’s what we read this week:

A new Common Application? A coalition of 80 U.S. colleges and universities recently announced the creation of a free, online college application system, which will be launched next summer. The Atlantic outlines the new system and discusses how it might change the admissions odds for prospective students.

Halloweiner? Pumpkin Drop? Scare Fair? How is your campus celebrating Halloween next weekend? U.S. News shares some of the crazy Halloween traditions held on college campuses around the U.S.

Thinking about applying to grad school in the U.S.? Career aspirations are likely the most important factor in your decision-making process. According to a recent report by World Education Services, summarized in the PIE News, career prospects are the most important factors for international students applying to graduate schools in the U.S. Other major factors are the school’s reputation and cost.

Read past Flywire Friday posts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates!

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Photo Essay Contest Winner Reflects on International Education in the U.S.

Manisha-Shrestha-450Flywire was proud to sponsor a recent Photo Essay Contest for Northwest Missouri State University’s Intercultural Festival, which was held in conjunction with International Education Week and Hispanic Heritage Month. International students were invited to submit a photo and brief essay explaining the importance and impact of an international education in the United States.

The first place prize went to Manisha Shrestha, for her beautiful photo of a campus pond at night and the accompanying essay titled “Reflection”. Manisha composed her submission while looking out over the pond and thinking about the struggle, hard work, and overall life experience of an international student.

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Flywire Friday: Trending News for International Students – October 16, 2015

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Here’s what we read this week:

Are you prepared to talk your way into college? Barron’s reports that U.S. colleges are adding video interviews to the list of application requirements for Chinese students in an attempt to cut down on the number of fraudulent applications. It’s likely that this trend will soon apply to all international students, so start getting camera ready!

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