International student applications are tough. For many top colleges, financial aid is a factor – which means that at schools like Princeton and Yale, international students generally come from wealthier families.
Whether you’re from Greece or China, Korea or France, the advice below applies equally.
1) Your standardized test scores are incredibly important – particularly the SAT, SAT II, TOEFL, and IELTS. More on the importance of SAT scores here.
2) Be even more focused on a single “spike” – by this, I mean it’s critical to have a clear area of strength. Remember, college admissions committees don’t care about well-rounded students as much as you think – they want a well-rounded student body, but each student should have a clear strength whether that’s science or leadership
Extracurricular activities, unless they’re incredibly impressive, carry less weight for international students because it’s harder to judge the quality
3) Have a native English speaker edit and proofread your essays, but don’t go overboard. International applicants that submit essays that look like they were written by college professors will ring alarm bells. Have someone edit for obvious syntax and grammar errors, but keep your voice. It’s ok to have a few minor mistakes – it makes the application look more authentic
4) Demonstrating interest is even more critical – this is tough unless you have the money to afford campus visits. I’d demonstrate interest by bringing up the research you’ve done on the school in your essay responses (such as talking to current students online, if you have a friend or relative that’s a graduate, etc)
For international students, focus on the 4 criteria above as you’re thinking about college admissions and you’ll have a step up. Good luck!
For more info, read my guide to Ivy League admissions.
Want to attend Ivy League schools? Check out my insider’s course and guide to getting into Harvard, even with a 1360 SAT from a public high school.