International College Admissions: Tips and Organization

Choosing what to eat for lunch is tough, but selecting colleges you want to go to is a challenge of its own level. Is it close to my family? How good are my chances of being accepted? Do they have a gym? When is the application deadline? Many concerns, many options, little time. International college admissions is complicated!

Hi, my name is Ludmila, I am a Brazilian student in the process of applying to American universities. This is how this critical process has been for me so far.

The U.S. has approximately 5,300 universities… and that’s a lot. When selecting where to apply, I wasn’t sure of my chances of being accepted or getting a scholarship. So I needed to narrow down the list with things I did know: I want to study Creative Writing, I want to be on the east coast (close to my friends), and I’d only be able to start applying from March 31 forward (which is pretty late. I know that now.

With that, I eliminated a good number of universities. Then, I almost had a heart attack when I found out that most universities have a December application deadline. But it’s okay. Life needs some excitement every now and then (don’t recommend it in this case though).

Research Tools

Although I did search ‘beautiful universities’ on Pinterest (because why not?), I mainly used the Smart College Visit research tool to find options. I chose the course, the state, possible GPA, and it figured things out as I went along. We don’t have GPAs here in Brazil, so that took some research. I also have to take the SAT, and as an international student, the TOEFL is mandatory too. Those factors are very important, and there are plenty of websites with minimum SAT, ACT, and GPA scores from tons of colleges that may vary from one site to another. I personally enjoyed using PrepScholar.

RELATED: Test Optional? More Colleges Dropping SAT, ACT Requirement

U.S. students are also very lucky to have CommonApp to make the admissions process extra smooth. However, not all universities are available, so I had to spend some extra time browsing the specific college websites when necessary. It’s a smart idea to do it anyway to get a feeling of the institution and its characteristics, such as being religious-based or a single-sex college.

Who Doesn’t Love Excel

Once I had all the information I needed, it was time for the fun part: Creating a color-coordinated and highly detailed Excel table! Okay, maybe it’s just MY favorite part, but being organized doesn’t hurt. The structure of the table is:

It does make sense when you get used to it!

I hope someone out there can use this organizing method, too. It took me some time to put together, so please feel free! This is my actual spreadsheet so you’ll have to do some editing, but I hope it helps you! Narrowing 80+ universities to about 10-15 was no easy task. To have a better understanding of my chances of being accepted, I divided some information into four categories and colors.

For now, I have to write some more essays and study for the SAT. I’m praying to be accepted and get a scholarship like any other student! After all, we are all hoping and wishing to make a difference in the world for the better (at least I hope so).

I should probably get back to studying. All in moderation, of course. If you’re like me, and tackling international college admissions, I wish you good luck!

Apply for a passport before you go to college

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