If you plan to study while living abroad, learn what makes expats strong candidates for college admission, college scholarships and university grants.
Making your application stand out as an expatAccording to John Sullivan, Dean of Admission at Eckerd College, students should use their applications to distinguish themselves. “Rather than stress about how your transcripts and ability to be involved are different than students who have attended the same high school for four years, you should capitalize on the different experiences you’ve had,” says Sullivan. “Bring it to life in the essay.” A common difficulty for expat applicants is how to provide a stellar list of extracurricular activities, including leadership positions, which is often assumed to give an applicant the edge in this process. Lin Larson, Coordinator of International Admissions at Saint Mary’s College of California, says that students need to concentrate on a few things in which they have a strong interest, instead of being non-active participants in many. “It’s more important for a student to be consistent in an activity than to have 30 on their application. Colleges like to see commitment and dedication,” says Larson. “Leadership is good as well, but we also know that if families are moving every year or two, this isn’t possible for the student.” Joan Jaffe, Associate Dean of Admission at Mills College, echoes these sentiments regarding extracurricular activities. “We’re not interested in the laundry list of activities or in ‘what looks good on a college application’,” says Jaffe. “We’re interested in those activities or interests that show real depth and commitment on the part of the student. We want to know what inspires the student and what he or she is passionate about and to bring that depth of commitment and passion to our campuses.”
Tips for writing your application essayDepending on where you apply, your college essay can be important. The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2014 State of College Admission survey revealed colleges ranked the essay as the 5th most-important factor in the application process, after grades, curriculum and related test-scores. Recommendations, extracurricular activities, class rank and interviews were further down the list. It’s advised to start writing your essay early. Some general tips for writing your application essay include:
- Write as you would speak; read it aloud and ask yourself ‘would I actually say that?’
- Tell your story – this is about the real you, not about who you think you should be.
- Share something new – if your essay is going to repeat what’s already outlined in other parts of your application, choose a different topic; use this opportunity to expand your depth and breadth of interests/experiences.
- Be genuine – admission officers are trying to get to know you via your writing, so let them in.
- Avoid the ‘shock and awe’ tactics – your essay isn’t about showing your best comedy act or gross-out story; while you should be authentic, it’s not the avenue to go over the top. You never know which admission staff will read your essay and while offending them with your essay may leave an impression, it’s probably not the one you’d like to make