Applying to university from abroad
University planning can be confusing, especially when your family lives abroad.
Which country will your student pursue their post-secondary studies? Will he or she be required to take specific exams in order to gain acceptance to their top choices? Who should you ask when you have questions about campus life? With so many questions, it is key for expat students to think about their university aspirations well before their final year of secondary school. Here are a few tips to get you and your student started.
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to get information early
One of the benefits of being a third culture kid (TCK) is clearly the exposure to multiple cultures. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for some TCKs to apply to universities in multiple countries. Your student may decide to apply to several American universities, a few French ones and a couple in the United Kingdom.
As a result, it is better to prepare early and understand the nuances of each application process. Some countries might have a single application that is filtered to multiple universities. Others countries may have institution specific applications. This means each university has its own unique application process. It’s important to know the requirements early on including any required testing so that your student can be prepared.
Tip 2: Connect with admissions representatives at university fairs
Some universities send representatives to international schools or expat communities for recruitment. These are valuable as students can speak with an admissions officer in person. To make the experience helpful, do some research prior to the event. Review the university website for admissions procedures. Research the various academic programs of interest.
Also, ask questions that are relevant to the student’s specific situation. What are the internship opportunities for graphic design majors? Are international students eligible for financial scholarships? What is campus life like on the weekends? As you ask your questions, don’t forget to get the contact information for the admissions representative so that you can follow up later. If there aren’t any admissions fairs in your area, visit sites such as CollegeWeekLive.com to participate in virtual ones.
Tip 3: Request to chat with current students
If your student hasn’t lived in any of the places on their prospective university list, it will help to talk to current students. Current students can give the best perspective of the day-to-day life at their university. No two schools are alike and it is helpful to ask questions of someone who can give an honest assessment. Even if the TCK is returning “home” for university, they might find it comforting to be on a campus with a global presence. It is worth video chatting with a student to determine if a school could be a good fit. You can ask the admissions office to find a student who might be willing to share their experiences. You can also speak with your student’s secondary school counsellor to find out if there are any alumni attending schools your student is interested in.
Tip 4: Figure out the financial costs
For planning purposes, it is a good idea to find out what the estimated tuition fees and associated costs will be. Will your child receive a discount rate as a citizen of that country? Are there special scholarships that your student may qualify for due to their academic, athletic or some other ability? In some countries, the cost for higher education is minimal provided a student is able to gain acceptance. In other countries, such as the United States, citizens must complete financial assistance forms if they intend on receiving aid to help with university costs. Check with prospective universities to get a general idea of how much your family will be expected to contribute towards your student’s education.
Applying to university can be daunting but these tips will help you and your TCK as you navigate the process.
Amanda Bate is the Founder and CEO of Bate Consulting, a U.S. based consulting firm that provides university admissions counselling to third culture students who intend on pursuing studies in the United States. She also blogs about the American admissions process and everything university related on her blog, Prepped & Loaded.