EducationUSA | Navigating the US Admissions Process (Aug. 2018)

[MUSIC PLAYING] MR. ALFRED BOLL: Good morning and good evening to our viewers from around the world My name is Alfred Boll, and I represent EducationUSA and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C The goal of today’s Facebook Live is to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to better navigate the U.S college admissions process We want international students like you to be able to study in the United States And 550 EducationUSA advisors in 180 countries and territories around the world offer free advising services to help you During the program, we will be answering questions from viewers So if you have questions on navigating the U.S. admissions process, please post them at any time during this program in the comments section below I am excited to introduce our speakers, who collectively have a wealth of knowledge in the college admissions process Joining us virtually is Chenelle Goyen, Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Georgia Chenelle manages the International Recruitment Plan for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Welcome, Chenelle In our studio we are joined by Anna Wise, who is the Associate Director of International Recruitment at Towson University Anna serves as the university’s NAFSA Region 8 International Enrollment Management Liaison, and the Study Maryland Recruitment Liaison I’m also pleased to welcome Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo, who is an international student from Bolivia Joscelin is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in psychology at Georgetown University Ladies, thank you for joining us Joscelin, I wanted to start our discussion by getting your perspective as an international student Can you share with us some of the common mistakes students make during the application process? MS. JOSCELIN ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah, of course I think I’m going to start first with my background I did my college degree at [INAUDIBLE] College in the U.S I’m originally from Bolivia So I went there and do my bachelor’s degree in Kentucky And then now I’m doing my doctorate degree at Georgetown University– MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: –in D.C. So I went through the application process as an undergrad, and also for a graduate school And I found myself doing this these mistakes sometimes and found my peers doing these mistakes I wanted to share these with you all And I think the first one I want to share is choosing only famous schools to apply to And it’s such a common mistake When people start this mistake, it’s like wanting to go only to ivy schools The only famous schools I’ve seen on TV is Stanford, Harvard– but there’s so many more There’s so many universities, colleges around the U.S It’s crazy that I only focus on 10, 15, that I’ve heard on TV So I will definitely suggest people to just search for more Spread out your research and look for that tiny corner in Kentucky, that tiny corner in Maine, even in states you haven’t heard of MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic That’s great advice MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah That’s really something to look at Another thing I found it’s being afraid of asking questions But please check the website before you do ask questions There are frequently asked questions, FAQs, that you can look for in the websites Make sure to get informed And if there is none on the website, don’t be afraid to ask the people that are in charge It is their job to help you get into these universities too, and guide you So ask for help Another thing– when you’re writing your personal statement for any degree, please proofread it

Ask for help to proofread it It’s such a common mistake I was like, I’m perfect in English I don’t need help We all need that extra– you are spending hours on these papers Look for help to help you with those typos, and just phrases that you think make sense in your mind But you probably have been reading it for two hours or 20 hours, so it ends up making sense So you need help You need fresh eyes Also, I know there are many or Google websites that teach you the samples for essays that you can write But guess what? There are so many people looking at these papers, too You want to stand out You want to be unique So that’s something I would definitely recommend And finally, another mistake that I did while I was going through this– I’m going to be– as an undergrad I was going to be spending four years in this town, in this university So don’t ignore other aspects of the school, such as location and weather Because you’re going to be there for four plus years Might as well enjoy it And then again, please reach out for help That’s a common mistake Don’t doubt it Ask for anyone’s help Yes MR. BOLL: Joscellin, thank you so much I mean, that is– you make very good points Especially the one saying that there are 4,700 accredited colleges and universities in the United States– a wide variety And there’s the right fit for everyone, for every student Right? And that’s something that EducationUSA advisors– whose basic services around the world are for free– are focused on, is helping students find the right fit for them to succeed professionally, academically, and personally So thank you for that message I wanted to follow up– you mentioned that students often don’t reach out for help when they should And, of course, we have EducationUSA– the Department of State’s network of advising centers around the world I think you used, engaged EducationUSA Can you tell us a little bit about– would you give students advice about how to engage EducationUSA around the world? MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah I was part of the EducationUSA in Santa Cruz, Bolivia I reached out to them, because I really had no idea what to do I found I had things on the internet, but I really couldn’t figure out what the right path was And it took a little bit for me to feel strong and go ask for help They were so welcoming Like you mentioned, they’re there to guide us And they just gave me all these wonderful resources– not only online– but also wonderful books that they have in their offices, and guide you step by step on how the application process works, the exams that you have to take, where you can take them– just every single part of it, they’re there to help you through it Also to read your papers– those are the people that can proofread your essays I didn’t have a computer at home I’m coming from a low income family I was really grateful that this office had computers that I could use and internet that I could use Because I didn’t have access to those at home So definitely I would recommend going to any EducationUSA office They’re more than welcome to help you and guide you I know it’s a little bit embarrassing to ask for questions, but shake it off Go for it MR. BOLL: Do it MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: You can do it Yeah You just go and ask them And even to start with just I am embarrassed, I don’t know what to do Can you help me? That’s enough That’s enough That’s all you need to say And they’re there to help you And I’m really grateful for all the people I met during that time I also, through EducationUSA, got opportunity to get opportunity funds– a scholarship And I was able to apply to four universities in the U.S With all their application fees paid This scholarship was paying for all the expenses before getting into a university So I think that’s really helpful coming in from my background, to get that kind of help And it’s not just to help you– EducationUSA Is not just to help you to get to the U.S., but they also expose you to different scholarships and different ways that you can finance this possibility of studying in the U.S MR. BOLL: That’s great Thank you so much, Joscelin That was very valuable insight I know our viewers might have some questions for you, so please hang tight We will get back to you Chenelle, I think this is the perfect time

to talk about admission timelines What advice would you give students on the best approach for staying on track during the college application process? MS. CHENELLE GOYEN: Hi, Fred Thank you so much for having me Yes, I would be happy to talk to you guys about admissions timelines So yeah, know the deadlines and the timelines of every university that you’re thinking of apply to I am originally from South Africa So I know what it is to be an international student studying here in the U.S. But working in admissions itself, it’s important to remember the U.S. timelines So we’re going to start with the summer and fall priorities here So in June and July, which is U.S. summer– where in South Africa it’s the winter– you want to visit the universities that you’re interested in Narrow your search down to about five or so schools that you’re interested in And if possible, schedule a campus visit at each of these universities during that summer break I came over and actually did that over my winter break from South Africa But so going into August of that year, you want to map out your final high school year Get a calendar Plan everything you have in that calendar itself– everything from scheduling exams, taking the SAT, get a study schedule, and then include your application deadlines, as well In September, start looking at essays Research the essay topics at each of the schools that you’re interested in Go look and see what essay topics they’ve had in the past And then start gearing your essay writing towards those same topics So for example, at the University of Georgia we have an admissions blog And you can find our essay topics and examples of great essays on that blog Our essays is not very wordy We require for students to write a couple of essays– between 200 and 300 words So remember to look at each university that you’re interested in and see how long these essays are supposed to be And focus on substance, and not necessarily word count Start early when you write your essays, or once you have your essay topics in hand Answer the question that’s been asked Don’t recount You want to reflect and tell a story about yourself within this essay Because this is really opportunity for you in this application process to you share a bit about your personality, give the reader a glimpse of how authentic you really are And have at least one other person read over that essay and make sure you review that So going into October, make sure you take SAT or ACT exams This is very important Again, if you’re looking at different types of universities, they might require SAT, they might not At the University of Georgia we require an SAT or an ACT for our first year applicants Make sure you send your final scores to each one of those schools that you’re looking to apply to In November, ask and gather for your recommendations or your recommendation letters So get all your letters together, and get them ready to be submitted In December, you submit and send your applications in I usually tell them most of the students who apply to the University of Georgia to get these applications in well prior to the assigned deadline Don’t miss these application deadlines In February, some of the students will find that they would have to do interviews Some universities require interviews within the application process For example, the University of Georgia, we do not require that So we will not be doing interviews with that application process In March, you pick your university I also recommend for students to look at a back up university So have a plan B and narrow down the universities that you’ve researched so far In April, you can review your financial aid or scholarships At some schools he will have to indicate that you’re accepting the scholarship So it’s important to understand which schools and what requirements they have within this process In May, you will have to submit your commitment deposit So May 1st is the commitment. deposit deadline It’s a national deadline So this is where you show the university your commitment by your commitment deposit to secure your spot at your chosen university Also research which schools are buying and non-binding when it comes to picking your final school

So, for example, University of Georgia– we’re non-binding when you’re paying or making that commitment deposit Over the summer, students attend orientation With my university students are required to attend orientation Make sure you allot of good amount of time to be able to attend the specific assigned orientation dates that you have available And then after that, you will start your selected university in August, or in the fall MR. BOLL: Chenelle, thank you very much That is very valuable advice, which we appreciate Anna, we just learned about timelines for taking admission tests And I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about which tests are necessary for international students and how they go about that process MS. ANNA WISE: Absolutely Thank you, Fred So the first thing that I always like to make sure international students understand is that universities usually require two different types of tests So the first one would be a test of academics So for instance, the SAT or the ACT Test for undergraduate And for graduate, you might have a GRE or a GMAP test And these are kind of testing some of the subjects that you may have studied previously But then there’s also tests of English proficiency So these might be a TOEFL test, a IELTS test, or a PTE test Now usually for these types of tests, universities will say specifically We don’t really care which one you want to take Right? So if you want to take an IELTS, you want to take a TOEFL– people say, which is better? It’s really about what your preference is Universities, when they say it’s the same for us, it really is the same for us We’re not going to prioritize one over the other But the other important thing to realize is oftentimes students will think, OK I haven’t taken an SAT or an ACT test, so I can’t apply to university in the U.S. Right? We hear this quite frequently So as Chenelle was saying, some universities do require the SAT and the ACT test So it’s a very good idea for anyone applying to U.S. University to try and take that test if they have the opportunity But if for whatever reason your test is not as high as you hoped, or whatever the situation is– it’s important to realize that some universities don’t actually require these SAT or ACT tests Now the reason for that is education systems are often very specific per country The example I like to say is if I studied and took a Gaokao test, I’m not going to do nearly as well as almost any student in China Particularly, since I don’t speak Mandarin But if I took a Gaokao test, I’m not going to do very well So it’s not necessarily fair, is what some institutions believe, for international students and for U.S. Students to have the same level expectations for tests like the SAT and the ACT, which are based on U.S. Education system So it’s always important– which goes back what what Jocelyn was saying– is you need to check the website Because the universities will say very clearly what is required and what is not required So it is not a valid excuse for you to say, oh, I didn’t know you need that test Because it’s going to be published But do realize that some universities don’t require the subject test Now all universities will require some type of proof of English proficiency And the reason for that is English proficiency says nothing about how intelligent you are or how likely you are to be successful in university It’s simply a skill that you need to be successful in university The same way I would never do well on the Gaukau in China, because I don’t speak Mandarin– it doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent It means I’m not going to do well there So the English test simply tests how prepared you are with that skill So realize if somebody tells you this is a requirement, they’re saying this is the required English level we think is going to allow you to be successful MR. BOLL: Thank you very much That’s very good advice, Anna One of the questions we often get from international students is about how they can finance their education Could you maybe tell us a little bit about that? MS. WISE: Absolutely The first thing to realize is again, check the websites We keep saying this consistently But universities will usually post opportunities they have for scholarships Now there are some private scholarships that are available through companies, through EducationUSA has some of that they offer You can research those externally But a lot of universities will also offer scholarships based on academic merit, which means how well you did in school– sometimes based on test scores, sometimes not based on test scores And when you hear a scholarship for academic merit, that means really the university is rewarding you for hard work you’ve done And that’s, you could almost say, free money Right? So that’s money you want to always say yes and accept– the same way Chenelle said sometimes

you need to say yes, I am accepting your scholarship Now the term financial aid can be a little confusing Because oftentimes that refers to financial aid by the U.S. government– not always, but sometimes So in that case, international students are unfortunately not able to qualify So you must be clear on the difference between financial aid and scholarships– scholarships being usually either academic or athletic based Now something else you can research is some of these universities will have special scholarships for Honors College So if you want to participate in an Honors College program, you can oftentimes get an even higher scholarship I know at our university– Towson University– we have athletic scholarships, we have academic merit scholarships, and those can be combined with Honors scholarships on top of it for international students MR. BOLL: Thank you very much That’s fantastic perspective Do you want to talk about loans? Is that– MS. WISE: So loans are another option that’s becoming increasingly popular So these would be student loans Now oftentimes the most important thing to realize is understanding what are the criteria– so what are you signing up for So there are a lot of very strong financing loan options available But you need to make sure you understand what all the terms are Now I know this is something EducationUSA can help with So if you have heard about a student loan and you want to learn more about it, then say, hey, what precisely does this mean? What am I signing up for? When do I have to pay it back? And how much do I pay it back? Is this safe? You can bring it to an EducationUSA advisor and they can help you review and look at some of your options But that can be a very strong option for students Because, of course, a U.S. Education is an investment in your future So if you receive that U.S. degree, that can hopefully help you pay that loan back MR. BOLL: Anna, thank you very much Joscelin, can I turn to you for your perspective on this? Can you tell us a little bit about your situation– the difficulties you faced and what your options were that you could consider in terms of financing? MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah I could not have afford paying a whole education in the U.S coming from the background I come So I did had to choose Like I mentioned, Opportunity [INAUDIBLE] scholarship allowed me to pay for all the expenses before that That’s translations of papers– that can become really pricey– things to English, TOEFL, SATs– so that scholarship allowed me to do that But I could limit it to only four universities or colleges So I had to choose really wisely which those four will be And so I had to choose which ones will offer more scholarships to international students, or which ones are more likely to offer scholarships to their students in general, which ones are more likely to just offer you grants And you can find those things in their websites So I was creating big data sheets on how to get informed in those information and understand the terms– what’s a loan, what’s a scholarship A merit scholarship– I didn’t understand those specific terms So I would really recommend getting informed on those And yeah, I was really lucky to get Berea College And you don’t pay tuitions in college, which is really unique So you get accepted and you have a full scholarship for your tuition all ready when you get accepted But I also got some Merit scholarships throughout the years that will allow me to pay for my expenses as a student, lodging, and food related stuff MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic Thank you for that advice and perspective It really does sound like financing, like any other aspect of the application process, involves really doing your research So 4,700 accredited colleges and universities– many that are not the famous names, but that have excellent resources– professors teaching, students will have a great experience And so it’s about doing the research to find the right fit for you– both in terms of the school as well as the financing Thank you very much Chenelle, can I turn to you? Once students have gathered the right documents and put together an application package, can you share with us some things that they should keep in mind before submitting their final application? MS. GOYEN: Yes, Fred I would love to share some of the notes I have here This is one of my favorite parts throughout the application process here at the University of Georgia, is really reading the applications and getting an idea of the type of student that is applying to the University of Georgia So how are you evaluated? You want to pick colleges that reflect who you are and what you want from life Review the college websites You have to talk to the school counselors

and consult, of course, with your family Spend quality time thinking about what you want your college experience to be, and make a list of these things And keep them in mind while crafting the list of these perspective schools that you’re looking at And what are colleges really looking for? Ultimately, different schools are looking for different characteristics Yet many have overarching qualities, and that’s sought by all But regardless of the school, the main characteristics and admissions panel is looking for is number one, an impressive academic career Show us that you do well in school, because you’re coming here for school again Demonstration of extracurricular activities and leadership interests– we value that Quality of your written work Make sure again, you revise those essays that you’ve submitted to these universities And the last thing is getting some solid recommenders, or letters of recommendation Then we’re going to look at your academic progress and trends So your academic performance through out high school For us, there’s not necessarily a minimum grade point average or a class rank that’s required But know that you are up against some of the best and brightest in the world that’s applying to these U.S. universities The more rigorous course selection you have and the better your grades are and the higher your class rank, the more competitive your application is going to be We also look at intellectual challenges We look at what academic challenges the student had available, and what the student took, as well as what the student didn’t take So we wanted to see if the student did challenge themselves within that academic environment, or if they chose to take an easy route We also look beyond the transcripts, at intellectual opportunities chosen both inside and outside of the classroom And then we also look at work ethic, integrity, and maturity We look at all your writings, your transcripts, the application items, your recs– the recommendations, for evidence of exceptional or poor maturity We look at your work ethic– not just the jobs or employment that you had in the past, but the effort of work that goes toward your goals, and the exceptional or poor conduct records that might come along with that But it’s important for you to show us that you’re a hard worker in all the areas– not just academically And then finally, we look at your professional discretion– or the university then takes a final look at the student as a whole, and the factors and the student has presented And ultimately, we look at the challenges that the student might have overcome, whether it’s significant, personal, or academic growth But ultimately, we’re looking for a student that has the potential to have a positive impact MR. BOLL: Chenelle, thank you very much That’s excellent advice Anna, to wrap up our conversation can you share with us how decisions are communicated to students? MS. WISE: Yes So this is always the very exciting part Some universities will actually make phone calls, or WhatsApp calls, Skype calls, and tell you congratulations– you’re admitted I always love making those phone calls Other universities will give you decisions through e-mail Sometimes they’ll send you physical mail with a letter– usually a big envelope that says you’ve been accepted And actually, a lot of universities nowadays have student web portals that you can check and sometimes upload documents and find out where am I in the review process So oftentimes for those universities that do have web portals where they have given you access, you can see your admissions letter there first, before any place else So if your university is using a web portal– and again, they will tell you that they’re doing that– make sure that you check that portal Because that will be the first place for it to be posted MR. BOLL: Thank you so much, Anna That’s also a very valuable perspective And it’s important for students to know where they stand And I’m sure universities are very conscious of the fact that students are waiting and that a lot depends on the decision that’s being made OK So this was a very insightful conversation Let’s now take some Facebook questions from our viewers So we have a question from [INAUDIBLE] Is there an age limit for college or university applications? Excellent questions Chenelle, can I turn to you for that? MS. GOYEN: Yes So the University of Georgia, we don’t necessarily have an age limit However, we do require that these students have finished high school

Obviously once they get to campus, some students are dual enrolled So we do have younger students on campus, as well But to give you a specific number, we usually don’t see any students younger than the age of 16 Usually it’s from 17 onward is the age group we see on campus MR. BOLL: And what about an upper age limit? I mean, I’m in my 50s– which I am– can I apply to college? MS. GOYEN: That’s a great question We actually have a program for 62 and plus or over that can study here at the University, as well So it’s open ended You can study for as long as you want and be a lifelong learner MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic I mean, which again is part of the ethos of American higher education across the board, is that it is open to everybody Right? We’re trying to welcome as many students as possible from around the world, and as many diverse students as possible, in everything that that means Going to our next question– several viewers have mentioned difficulty in financing their education They are asking more about scholarships, specifically about how you go about looking for scholarships Anna, can I turn to you for that? MS. WISE: Sure So as mentioned, there are a lot of scholarships that are specific to specific universities There are also ones that are done through private companies or organizations So if you work with EducationUSA, you work with NAFSA You can find a list of some of those external organizations that offer scholarship opportunities Otherwise, the best advice to get a scholarship is really to focus on your strong application Because universities do have scholarship funding available But that funding usually goes to students with very strong academics, very strong motivation, very strong ethics– all of those areas that Chenelle was talking about So yes, scholarships are possible You need to do research and you need to work hard to earn them MR. BOLL: Can I ask a follow up? So for many American students applying to college, also scholarships are always an issue And financing is an issue for everybody Many American students get sort of partial scholarships depending on need Is that something that is the same for international students– that they might be offered a partial scholarship or partial funding, and then be asked to self-fund a portion? MS. WISE: So usually that would be the case Usually students would receive a scholarship that would not cover the full cost of tuition and housing So then oftentimes, students will be funded by a combination of family members It is not a good idea to say OK, I know I’m coming to the U.S and I am going to work to be able to support the rest of my education Because one of the very important things to understand is if you come to the U.S. for a student visa, you are there to study You’re not there to work So that means that there is a limit on the type of work students can do Students on F-1 student visa can work for up to 20 hours per week– on campus, only And that should not be considered the primary source of your financing for your university That’s very important So yes, there are scholarships Oftentimes there will be a difference that still needs to be paid So usually you want to make sure that if your goal is to study in the U.S., you’ve been identifying external sourcess– whether it’s a company, organization, government, an uncle– oftentimes, it’s an uncle So yes, that’s important to realize MR. BOLL: Thank you very much So we have a question from Danya, who asks what are the main criteria for acceptance into U.S. universities? And so Chenelle, can I turn to you? MS. GOYEN: Yeah So when it comes to the admissions process and things that we look at that’s the biggest admissions items that we consider, it comes down to your merit scores– so your high school GPA– your grade point average coming in We’re going to look at your SAT and ACT scores ‘Cause if students have a trend of doing well in high school, we want them to come and continue that trend here on our campus So your grade point average and your high school transcripts and the courses you took in high school and the rigor of the courses is going to be a very good indicator of how successful you’re going to be on our campus So that’s going to be the main thing we look at So again, GPA, SAT or ACT scores– and then we’re going to look at the rest of your applications– which includes the essay and everything else we discussed a little earlier But do well in high school Have a good GPA coming out of high school That’s going to be the biggest thing we’re looking at MR. BOLL: Thank you, Chenelle So a question from Nathaniel on Facebook who asks,

how important are recommendation letters to U.S. institutions? Anna, let me begin with you MS. WISE: So this will also depend oftentimes on institutions Most universities do require recommendation letters– but not all Recommendation letters are an excellent opportunity to show some of your leadership skills, some of your ethnic skills, and some things that we can’t necessarily see just from your grades So the important thing I always advise students is recommendation letters are important So you want to make sure the teacher or principal or whoever is writing your letter for you knows you and can say nice things I always joke I don’t have the person who doesn’t like you write your letter But they know you, they know how you work, and they can say honest, truthful good things about yourself The other thing about recommendation letters is if a school tells you they require two recommendation letters, don’t think it is helpful to send 48 Because some students will do that, and 48 letters is too many They will not read all 48 If they ask you for two, two is what you send MR. BOLL: Send two Got it So follow instructions MS. WISE: Follow instructions MR. BOLL: Got it Joscelin, can I ask you– I mean, how did you approach recommendation letters when you were going to college? Was it easy to get? Did you have to explain what these were? I assume this is not something– well, we know this isn’t something that is common around the world MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah I had an issue with parents will think or– I don’t know how to explain this But I personally thought it was just a simple two lines, three lines of a recommendation letter That’s not what it was I got informed I asked more questions to my EducationUSA advisor I would also limit them to only people who knew English And there were so many other people that could speak Spanish and they have no English background, that I could ask for a recommendation letter and then get translations for those So definitely I will follow Anna’s recommendation to ask to someone who actually knows you and can talk about you and your skills and all those things As we mentioned earlier, this sometimes you won’t get the opportunity to interview All these papers are going to be the only things that these people are going to see from you This is your way to present yourself and how good of a candidate you are for the university you’re applying to So again, find people who know you and will write things that reflect who you are in these papers MR. BOLL: That’s very good advice Anna, can I follow up? I mean, if a letter comes in a foreign language– of course, it depends on the university– but will many universities welcome that with a translation into English? MS. WISE: With a translation into English, absolutely I would not advise sending just a letter without the translation MR. BOLL: Right MS. WISE: But as long as you include a translation into English, absolutely MR. BOLL: So the main piece of advice that I’m hearing from the three of you is find someone who knows you well and who can really testify to your qualities and write in detail about why he or she is recommending you OK Thank you very much Very good advice So our next question says, almost all universities in the United States look at extracurricular activities that you have done– so activities outside of school I’m an international student And in my country there are a few options to do any extracurricular activities or classes or activities Will that hurt my application? Chenelle, what would you say? MS. GOYEN: That’s an excellent question, Fred And I can honestly say, coming from South Africa myself, we didn’t have a lot of extracurricular activities available at my school Because my school was focused on students going to school and doing well at school If you don’t have a lot of extracurricular activities available, that is OK However, do you show us that you are filling your time– the free time that you have– with positive or impactful things Whether that’s a job, or volunteering at a local orphanage– the other thing that I would you advise students to do as well is don’t just submit an application and say oh, I volunteer at the following places Tell us how long you volunteered there for Tell us how many hours a week do you spend there How many hours a week do you work, and what type of a impact would this volunteer or work opportunity have on your life? And you can share some of these things in your essays, as well And share with us that maybe your institution or your high school does not have a lot of these extracurricular activities available But show us that the ones that you have plugged into, that you were involved, and not only that– you aspired to become

a leader in that area MR. BOLL: So it’s not just about doing something extracurricular that’s organized, but about who you are as a person and whether or not you’re involved in your community and the wider world That’s fantastic advice Thank you very much We now have a question that is coming from a viewing group at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba For English language testing, can students apply only using IELTS or TOEFL results? Or are other exams accepted? Very good question Anna? MS. WISE: So again, the question is going to be– make sure you check the university website Because the university will usually release a list that says these are different ways that you can meet the English proficiency requirement For instance, for Towson University we accept the Pearson test of English, as well We also will accept the Duolingo English test, which we’re excited about for undergraduate studies This is a test that you can take on your own It’s a self-proctored test you can take on a computer So you don’t have to travel, and it’s a little bit less expensive This is a new test that some universities are accepting, and some are not Now other universities will also waive English proficiency results if you have, for instance, taken a Cambridge curriculum course or an IB course These are international types of high schools If you’ve taken a course in one of those types of education systems, oftentimes universities will also waive TOEFL IELTS But the best advice is go to the university website where they’ll have a listing that says, this is what we accept And if you think that you might have an extenuating circumstance, you can always reach out and say, hey, I’ve taken this thing I’ve done this thing I studied here Would I be able to qualify for a waiver? And the worst that will happen is they will say no MR. BOLL: Got it So do your homework MS. WISE: Do your homework, yeah MR. BOLL: OK, great advice Joscelin, just out of curiosity, which test did you take? MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: I took the SAT and the TOEFL MR. BOLL: OK, that’s great MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah And then for graduate school, the GRE MR. BOLL: The GRE for graduate school MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yeah MR. BOLL: OK Thank you Our next question is do you have any recommendations for student athletes looking for undergraduate studies and scholarships, as well as short-term programs that allow athletes to practice their sport and also study? We know that that’s one of the great assets of American higher education– is that you can both study and really be an athlete, and do both well Chenelle, can I turn to you for that question? MS. GOYEN: Yeah That’s another great question And it kind of hits home with my background I came to the U.S. on a sports scholarship So I was a tennis player To answer the question about how do you get these sports scholarships– it depends on the type of sport It depends on if the university has that sport available And the other thing that I highly recommend for students to look at who are interested in sports scholarships is to look at several of the visions that’s within the NCAA body So for example, if you’re looking at a large division one school, you’re going to get some high quality sports there So for example, at the University of Georgia we had John Isner that played here, and he played in Wimbledon this year The other options that student athletes should look at is looking at division two schools Division two schools also offer athletic scholarships And the third option is to look at division three schools Now do remember, division three schools do not offer athletic scholarships However, you can be on a sports team and they can give you an academic scholarship So again, go do your research Connect with the coaches at the schools that you’re interested in playing in And if you have a sport that has immediate results, so for example tennis– if you have a ranking– e-mail the coaches your ranking And tell him that you’ve looked at the school’s roster and that you think your ranking is higher than some of the folks that they might have on their roster And then you can start that communication with the coaches ‘Cause it also depends on what the coach’s budget looks like and how many scholarships they have available for the following year But yeah, do that outreach kind of early on MR. BOLL: Chenelle, thank you very much– and especially for sharing your personal story That’s fantastic I want to point out that we did an EducationUSA interactive webinar exactly fully on sports scholarships a little while ago And that is available on YouTube and via the EducationUSA website, to anyone who wants to see the full interactive We have a question from [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] already has a Bachelor of Science degree from his country, and would like to know if it’s possible to do a second undergraduate degree in the United States It’s a great question Anna? MS. WISE: Absolutely [INAUDIBLE],, you can do a second undergraduate degree in the United States So usually universities will have a system for you to transfer some of your academic work that you’ve done in your home country to our institutions,

to allow you to maybe take a little bit less than a full four year academic load in order to earn your second bachelor’s degree But absolutely, you can get your second bachelor’s degree Oftentimes students will do that because they want to get more intensive understanding of the subject matter, or possibly they studied commerce or business and now they want to move over and study psychology– get a second type of subject area Absolutely, we would welcome you to apply for a second bachelor’s degree in the U.S MR. BOLL: That’s great information– and also the fact that credits can be counted So if you have a degree, at least some part of that is going to be counted– most likely toward a degree in the United States MS. WISE: Right The one thing I would say is if you do have a bachelor’s degree, every university in the U.S that offers a bachelor’s degree has a minimum amount of time you must be studying at that university So do not think that oh, I already have a bachelor’s degree So I’ll go for one semester and get my second degree from Towson University or University of Georgia University of Georgia and Towson– every university in the U.S. will have a limit that says you must do– usually it’s about one and a half years or two years worth of studies in order for us to give you a new degree that says Towson University, Georgetown University on it MR. BOLL: Got it Thank you very much Very valuable advice So our next question is do recommendation letters and references need to be from a student’s field of study? Or could these be from people from other fields– completely unrelated? And again, very happy to see that this is a question from our viewing group in Havana, Cuba Anna, can I ask you about that? MS. WISE: Sure The most important thing about finding recommenders is that they have worked with you in either an academic, a professional, or a work capacity So it does not need to be in the same subject area If you want to study history, it does not need to be your history teacher who writes it for you But it doesn’t have to be someone who can say how are you when it comes to completing assignments Do you meet your deadlines? Are you a hard worker? So usually it needs to be somebody who has seen you in an academic or in a professional So some universities will say yes, if you had an employer, your employer can write you a recommendation letter MR. BOLL: Chenelle, anything that you would like to add to that? MS. GOYEN: Yeah I concur with Anna It is important for us to see in the letters of recommendation that there is some substance written about the student or the applicant So for example, if I read a letter of recommendation that is only one paragraph, that’s a little concerning Because it shows me that this person who wrote the letter doesn’t really know the applicant as well Usually when we see letters of recommendation they will go from one to two pages m where this person will explain how the student handled a scenario or a challenging academic task– and how successful the student was after that And also, out of the letters of recommendation we will find other information topics that will help shape our understanding of the applicant So a student might not share that they have had, let’s say a tragic event that happened in their family or in the past And sometimes the counselor or the school principal will share that story or with that background with us in that letter of recommendation And that will give us a good overview of how mature the student is, and how they’ve handled the challenges that’s come upon their life MR. BOLL: Thank you, Chenelle Very good advice Joscelin, we have some questions for you Quite a few students online are asking if you could repeat the names of the scholarships you received at Berea and Georgetown MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Oh, OK So the one in Berea College– the full tuition, it’s part of the– it’s a norm in Berea College Every student who gets admitted to Berea College in Kentucky– they get already a full scholarship for tuition MR. BOLL: Automatically? MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Automatically, as part of– it goes through the application process When you’re admitted you all ready come with your full tuition scholarship It is a competitive school to get into But once you get into it, you don’t have to pay for tuition It’s also work study So we are required– every student is required to work for the university We do get paid some for it But it also goes towards the education expenses And that’s how I got it And right now I’m doing my PhD programs PhD programs are a little bit different Some schools are going to give you also the full tuition as part of that program Georgetown University is paying–

the psychology department is paid for the full scholarship I’m working again, for the university as a teaching assistant and doing other research with them, with the department, to pay for those tuition and expenses But they’re giving me a stipend as part of their program This doesn’t happen everywhere It’s not with all the graduate programs– especially masters Those are a little bit harder to get full tuition pay Mostly you have to pay at least half of it But PhD programs– some of them are going to be more lenient And you get full funding and also a stipend as part of the program MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic So again, it sounds like do your research Look at all the schools, and look at the many options out there– 4,700 accredited universities You know, EducationUSA, we want to represent all of these schools And we we’re always at pains to tell students look, find– do your research and find the right fit There are so many excellent places to get an education So we have a question from Monesha, who is asking if we could speak a little bit about the admission process for transfer students, which is very interesting Chenelle, can I start with you? MS. GOYEN: Yeah The transfer application process also varies among the schools here in the U.S. So I’m going to use the University of Georgia as an example here It is actually very easy to apply to the University of Georgia as a transfer applicant You have to meet our minimum transfer requirements– which is 30 already transferable hours– so 30 hours or more And you have to have a 3.2 GPA or higher with that to be considered for admission So in other words, you don’t need an SAT or ACT score when you’re applying as a transfer student The one note that I would throw out there with this is if you’re applying from an international university– so a university outside the United States– we do require that students have to submit a TOEFL or a IELTS score to show us that English proficiency So our minimum TOEFL score is 80 or above So again, 30 transferable hours, a 3.2 GPA, and a 80 on the TOEFL, and you will be strongly considered for admission MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic Thank you Very interesting perspective Our next question is whether or not colleges and universities will accept credits from international schools And I take that to mean both universities, which we’ve talked about, but as well as secondary schools Anna, you mentioned that you would maybe want to talk a little bit more MS. WISE: Sure So a lot of U.S universities will actually recognize major international curriculums For instance, if you have attended a Cambridge School, IGCSE school, IB school– a lot of those universities realize that you’re doing very high level academic work And based on your examination results that you used to graduate, you can receive transfer credits So for instance, Towson University– and again, it’s all going to be posted on the university website But Towson University does offer credits for students taking AS levels or A levels in a Cambridge curriculum We also offer credits for students with an IB diploma So if students graduate with a full IB diploma, we feel that is equivalent your first full year of academic studies at Towson University So while a traditional program is four years, if come in with an IB diploma you may graduate in three years So each university will have a different system But a lot of universities, particularly those that have strong international populations, realize the value of the subjects that your studying and will transfer those secondary school examination results in MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic Thank you very much Very good information So unfortunately, we are almost out of time I would like to thank each of you And first of all, ask you to share a final thought for our viewers Joscelin, can I turn to you? MS. ROCHA-HIDALGO: Yes Oh, final thoughts– I have so many thoughts to share with you all I will recommend ask for help Don’t doubt that there are many people who are happy to help you and willing to help you So reach out to them And also, do your work Look around the websites Do research There are so many places that you can apply to Some of them are going to be better suit for you than others And that’s what you should do before you apply– find the right place for you– the one place that makes you happy academically and also personally MR. BOLL: Thank you so much That’s great advice

Chenelle, can I turn to you in Georgia? MS. GOYEN: Yeah I usually tell most applicants that they’re about to embark on the most epic journey of their life And I think it’s important for you as an international student to understand the value in finding the right fit You’re going to be at a place for four years, as Anna indicated, or longer And yeah, it’s important to realize that this is a fun part of your life Make sure the institution that you’re choosing can help shape you and help you reach your dreams and aspirations, and help find your passions MR. BOLL: Thank you so much That is fantastic advice, and a great spirit for students to come with in approaching their undergraduate studies and studies generally Anna, can I ask you– final thoughts for us? MS. WISE: I would agree very much with Joscelin and Chenelle’s recommendations The other thing I would say is it’s very easy to be overwhelmed by this process– and to say this is very complicated, this is very scary, and this is not possible for me The important thing to realize is there are currently over one million international students studying in the U.S. from hundreds of countries Those students all started just like you You already have access to EducationUSA, which is a top tier program that will help you for free You have access Make sure you take advantage of what they can help you with Make sure you ask questions and realize a U.S. education is not some impossible thing that no one can ever achieve It’s possible There are students who started just like you, who are sitting in seats similar to Joscelin here So make sure that you say encouraged, you ask questions, work with EducationUSA, and really think about your process step by step, one piece after the other Because if you think about it as I have to do all of these things, you may feel overwhelmed So I just think piece by piece, step by step It’s possible MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic vision, advice, and perspective It’s all possible There are a million students currently that have done it And you have EducationUSA to help you along the way Thank you so much I really want to thank you for joining us today And, of course, a special thank you to our guests– Chenelle, Anna, and Joscelin A very special thanks to our viewing groups joining us from around the world– and especially those at EducationUSA Nicaragua, EducationUSA Medellin, at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, the U.S Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, and many other groups around the world You can find more information about studying in the United States by visiting the EducationUSA website at www.educationusa.state.gov There you can find information on the five steps to U.S study, locate an EducationUSA center in your country– one of 426 around the world, connect with us via social media, learn about both in-person and virtual upcoming events, research financial aid opportunities, and much more Thank you and please join us for future EducationUSA interactive web chats And on a final note, I would just like to share this quote by Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell “Mick” Zais And goodbye, from Washington