8 Tips for International Applicants to U.S. Graduate Schools

8 Tips for International Applicants to U.S. Graduate Schools

8 Tips for International Applicants to U.S. Graduate Schools
Dilip Chaulagain

Applying to graduate school as an international student in the United States can be challenging as there are several additional factors to consider, such as degree compatibility, the availability of the GRE in your location, and financial planning. 

However, staying organised and seeking help can make the process manageable. It's important to note that while the application process may be similar, international students may need to take extra steps, such as obtaining translations of transcripts and researching visa requirements. It's also essential to consider factors such as location, cost of living and resources available for international students.

Here are a few tips for international applicants to enrol in US Graduate Schools.

Tips for International Applicants to US Graduate Schools

Understand the Application Process

International students must thoroughly research each graduate program's requirements before submitting their applications. Knowing the particular requirements and dates for each program is crucial because the application procedure can differ significantly between schools. This includes comprehending the application papers needed, such as transcripts, test results, recommendation letters, and personal statements.

Additionally, it's crucial to remember that overseas students may have various application dates, so carefully review them. Also, some graduate programs could have extra specifications for international students, such as a course-by-course examination of your transcripts or proof of English language competency.

Check the graduate school's website and study the application guidelines and prerequisites to understand the application procedure better. You can also ask any questions by contacting the school's admissions office. To learn more about the application procedure and the qualities the program is seeking in applicants, you should also get in touch with current students or program alumni.

Prepare for Standardised Tests

Standardised tests like the GRE or GMAT are often required as part of the application procedure for graduate programs in the US. These exams evaluate a candidate's knowledge and abilities in some areas, including analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. Applicants' chances of admission into a graduate school can significantly change if they prepare well for these exams.

There are numerous online and offline tools for test preparation, including study aids, sample tests, and tuition. To receive a well-rounded practice, it is advised to employ a variety of materials.

Transcript Evaluation

When applying to graduate programs in the United States as an international student, some institutions may require a course-by-course evaluation of your transcripts. This ensures that your foreign education is equivalent to that of a US institution.

A course-by-course evaluation is a process in which a recognised evaluation service evaluates your educational credentials. This service compares your transcripts to the US educational system. It provides a report that includes information such as the level of education, the US equivalent of the degree earned, and the grades earned in each course.

To get your transcripts evaluated, you will need to select a recognised evaluation service and provide them with your transcripts, degree certificates, and other relevant documents. The evaluation process can take several weeks, so it's essential to plan accordingly and submit your materials before the application deadline.

Some institutions may also require a degree evaluation or a general examination of your academic qualifications. If you hold a degree from a foreign university that is not approved in the US, these evaluations may give additional specific information about your education and may be necessary.

Get your TOEFL or IELTS Scores

As an international student, one of the requirements for applying to graduate programs in the United States is to demonstrate English proficiency. This is typically done by taking a test of English proficiency such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). These tests assess your ability to understand and use English in academic settings. Taking a test of English proficiency, such as the TOEFL or IELTS, is an essential step for international students applying to graduate programs in the United States. Make sure to check the requirements of the schools you are applying to, and plan and use test preparation resources to improve your chances of success.

Get Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an essential part of the graduate school application process, and many programs require them as part of the application materials. These letters provide insight into an applicant's qualifications, skills, and potential for graduate study.

When choosing recommenders, selecting individuals who can speak to your qualifications and potential for graduate study is essential. These include professors, research supervisors, or others who have worked with you in an academic or professional setting. It's best to choose recommenders who understand your work well and can provide specific examples of your qualifications and skills.

When asking a professor or a supervisor to write a letter of recommendation, give them a copy of your resume, a list of your achievements, and a copy of the application requirements for the programs you are applying to. Also, please give them a deadline by which the letter should be submitted, and it's best to provide them with at least a month to write the letter.

Review Application

A crucial part of the graduate school application procedure is editing your documents. It makes sure that your application is flawless and professional and gives the most excellent possible impression of you.

It's crucial to pay close attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation when checking your application materials. These mistakes can distract the reader and make it challenging to comprehend your application. Use a spell and grammar checker, and review your application several times before submitting it.

Connect with your Alumni 

Reaching out to alumni from your home country who have attended the graduate program you are applying to can provide valuable insights and help you understand how to tailor your application. Alumni can offer practical perspectives on the program, the application process, and the school's culture.

When reaching out to alumni, it's best to search for them on the school's website, LinkedIn or other professional networks. When you find a potential alumnus, contact them via email or LinkedIn and introduce yourself. 

Explain that you are interested in the graduate program they attended and ask if they would be willing to answer a few questions about their experience. It's also a good idea to ask them about their experience as international students, such as the support they received and how they adjusted to the new culture and academic environment.

By talking to alumni, you can better understand the program, the application process, and the school's culture and use this information to tailor your application accordingly.

Apply for a Student Visa

Obtaining a student visa is essential for international students accepted into a graduate program in the United States. Getting a student visa can take several weeks, so it's necessary to begin the application process as soon as possible after being accepted into a program.  You could miss the first few weeks of classes if you're on time to apply for a visa. This can negatively impact your academic progress and make it difficult to catch up with your classmates.

To begin the application process, you will need to gather the necessary documents, such as your acceptance letter and proof of financial resources, to cover the cost of tuition, living expenses, and any other miscellaneous expenses during your time in the United States. Also, you will have to fill out the application form and pay the fee.

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