Three options for how to enroll in an American university
American higher education is considered one of the best in the world. Top US universities occupy top places in various ratings, and every year thousands of students try to find their place at Harvard, Stanford or Columbia University.
The price for an elite diploma can be sky-high, so in the United States, people start thinking about admission long before leaving school. Foreigners are advised: at least 2 years are necessary in order to collect the required package of documents, pass tests and assess financial capabilities. If the latter are not there, then it is also important to find a grant that will cover all training costs.
ForumDaily already wrote in detail about all stages of the admission process. In this article we will tell you who you can turn to for help with admission and what you need to be prepared for if you decide to go through the whole introductory campaign on your own.
Option №1: use the services of firms that help go to university
Entering an American university is a long, bureaucratic process. If you do not know for sure which university to choose, are not sure of your English, or are not ready to prepare and verify every document on your own, contact the specialists.
A large glass building on Broadway. Here, at the New York Law School, Russian Pavel has been studying for 2 years. Having received a managerial diploma in his native Yekaterinburg, he decided to continue his studies in America and change his specialty. It turned out that entering an American university was not an easy task, and the guy had no idea what to do in the first place.
“Actually, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I knew for sure that I wanted to study to become a lawyer, but I didn't know which school to choose. I am generally silent about the list of required documents - it is very difficult to collect everything on your own, ”says Pavel.
He decided not to waste time and turned to a company that professionally helps foreign students to conquer American universities. The first thing they asked about was Paul's wishes and budget.
“If a person has decided on a specialty, we help to select 3-4 of the most suitable universities and begin the process of preparing for admission to each of them. There is another option - when the student does not yet know who he wants to study. Then first we propose to pass tests that determine the professional orientation of a person, ”says Irina Kokurina, President of the New York company Global Professional Consultingwhich for years 20 has been offering educational advice.
Irina is sure: it is difficult for a person who is abroad to understand the confusing system of American higher education. In the United States, universities and colleges work differently than in Ukraine or Russia, and each university has its own special requirements.
Pavel knows from his own experience: it is necessary to begin the admission process a year and a half before the intended start of studies. After the professionals Global Professional Consulting helped him choose 5 law schools, he received a list of further tasks. The first is to pass the TOEFL and LSAT (special test for law schools). And while the guy was preparing for the tests, the company's specialists began preparing the documents: they translated his bachelor's degree and submitted a document for evaluation. “Already at this stage, the future student may have problems: what is the official transcript of the diploma? What is an evaluation? Why can it be different? We simplify this whole complex process for the client, ”says Irina.
Evaluation of a diploma, and in simple words, an assessment of how much a foreign diploma is equal to a similar American one does not just give the right to continue studies. Thanks to her, the courses that the student has already attended in his homeland do not have to be held again at an American college. This saves both time and money.
Then Pavel was told how to write an essay correctly, which is an obligatory part of the package of documents: “They gave me an example of an essay and clearly explained what exactly universities want from me. This made the whole process much easier. ” Pavel also had a constant opportunity to ask questions - both online and by phone, if there were any difficulties. And they came up all the time, the guy recalls: only one statement is a questionnaire with 20 sheets, and it is not always clear how to answer the next question correctly.
“Continuous support is very important. You know, when your future depends on correctly completed documents, it is even morally easier if you know who to turn to for advice, ”he says.
Irina, in turn, warns: American universities are very strict in paperwork, and any mistake can affect the result. “Only the perfect package of documents has a chance for consideration. Even an applicant can write a letter in the wrong way - the style itself must be American, and just knowing English is not enough here. There are many pitfalls here that you can stumble over and lose time. ”
And with him - and money, adds Paul. Thanks to the clear advice he received in Global Professional Consulting, good scores on tests and the correct package of documents, he received a discount on tuition. “There may be a difference - they give you a scholarship or ask you to pay the full amount. I saved $ 25 thousand a year, which is $ 75 thousand for all 3 years of study, ”Pavel does not hide his joy.
Option №2: for especially talented
If a potential student is not just smart, but brilliant, he has the opportunity to get into the best American universities absolutely free. Plus, get full support during the introductory process. Such a program exists, for example, in Ukraine. Charitable foundation Ukraine Global Scholars carefully selects schoolchildren, pays all the entrance tests and teaches how to win thousands of education grants.
How Ukrainian schoolchildren get free education at Ivy League universities
They target only the Ivy League or private elite schools. At the same time, they are striving for the participants in their program of full funding of training. Charity organization Ukraine Global Scholars looking for talented schoolchildren throughout Ukraine to give them the opportunity to get the best American education for free.
"Our programs were founded almost 2 years ago. Last year we managed to help five schoolchildren to enter, they won grants totaling $ 1 million. This year, 13 people have already entered, and the amount of grants is $ 3 million, ”says Yulia Sychikova, co-founder of the foundation.
She herself is a graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, where she studied for free. Yulia says that at that time the USA / USA organization helped her and many other Ukrainian schoolchildren. When the girl received her diploma, she and her Ukrainian friends from other prestigious American universities decided: now it is their turn to help.
Get into the program Ukraine Global Scholars not easy. “We have a long and rather tough selection, we have to go through 3 rounds. The first is to submit an application by the end of March, it is similar to the one that must be filled out at Harvard. The candidate is required to show school grades for the last 3 years, photos of all diplomas, write an essay. The topics are different, last year, for example, we asked: “What do you really want to do in life?” - says Yulia.
The second round is tests in English and mathematics. The fund managers prepare them on their own, and the tasks are similar to those found in two main tests for admission to an American university: TOEFL (English) and SAT (general level of knowledge). If the student copes with this, then he will have 2 more interviews with the fund's mentors in English.
Ernest Protas successfully completed all 3 rounds. Now he is finishing 11th grade in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, in western Ukraine, and in the fall he will study in the United States. The guy says the program helped him a lot. “I became a finalist in June and after a few weeks I was invited to a special camp. The leaders of the organization came there and all 10 days they taught us how to plan the admission process from the very beginning, how to write an essay, how to express our thoughts correctly, how to submit ourselves for an interview, ”the guy recalls.
Julia notes that when it comes to prestigious educational institutions, every letter, every comma in the documents is important. Therefore, a mentor is assigned to all participants of the program, who helps the student to become a student within six months.
“In fact, the package that is submitted to Harvard consists of a small number of documents. But there every word is worth its weight in gold. How you reveal yourself in an essay, how you tell about yourself, how you behave in an interview - all this greatly influences the decision. Therefore, we read the guys' essays several times to present them as if they were the next world leaders. Who they are, in principle, they are, they just lack the knowledge of how to show it correctly, ”she continues.
In addition, the foundation pays all the entrance tests. Both TOEFL and SAT cost more than $ 200 together, each university takes money for submitting documents. On average, the foundation spends about $ 1000 to pay for a single student admission process. At first it was the personal funds of the founders of the program and their friends, now the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA helps the foundation.
Just mind and excellent academic performance Harvard does not conquer
When asked "Are you the best student in school?" Ernest Protas humbly answers “yes”. In addition, he is the winner of the All-Ukrainian Chemistry Olympiad and after school he often works in the laboratory of the local university. She dreams of becoming a great chemist and returning this industry to its former power. But academic achievements and ambitions alone are not enough for a multi-thousand grant.
“These should be not just super-smart guys, but also very charismatic, with big dreams, they should be busy in art, sports, startups, extracurricular activities,” says Yulia Sychikova.
Therefore, the mentor advised Ernest to also tell about the rock group in which he plays, and not forget to mention that he himself learned to play the piano. Ernest did not go to universities, but to private schools - he was only 16, and the leaders of the foundation recommended that he study at an American boarding house for a couple of years.
“Our guys are divided into 2 categories: those who are younger (they are 15-17 years old) go to prime schools - these are elite educational institutions, private schools, boarding houses. Older guys go to universities, ”says Yulia.
The foundation chose this principle for a reason. It is easier to get into private schools, besides, schoolchildren get an additional year or two for full adaptation. And entering the Ivy League after these educational institutions is many times easier than after the Ukrainian school. “This school is the best option for me. It will be easier for me to enter the American education system. Also in such schools there is a special department that will help to enter the university and win a grant, that is, they will take care of me, ”Ernest is sure.
This he told ForumDaily before he received an affirmative answer from almost all educational institutions where he applied. Now it is already known: Ernest is a student of the prestigious Taft School, which offered him a Davis scholarship. It covers 2 years of study and boarding, and also gives $ 80 to college. So the guy already has the starting capital.
His plans are to get a brilliant higher education at a technical college, and then, like all the other participants in the program, he must return to Ukraine for at least 5 years. This is one of the terms of the contract that the guys are signing.
Option №3: to conquer American universities on their own
All information about admission is written on the university website. If you know English well, you can enroll in US universities without outside help. In this case, all organizational issues fall on the shoulders of the potential student. And if there is nothing to pay for education, then you will have to look for grants yourself. This option is perhaps the most difficult, but ForumDaily found students who prove by personal example: this is possible.
How Belarusian lawyer won Harvard
Marina Kovalevskoy mother since childhood said: “You will study at Harvard”. And although the girl was an excellent student both at school and at the university, from her native Minsk, this famous university looked like a dream. But Marina was able to implement it.
“Going to Harvard is an absolutely real thing. If you study well and set yourself such a goal, you can achieve it, ”Marina is sure now, with a degree from Harvard Law School.
She is an international lawyer who defended opposition Belarusian politicians in court. After numerous complaints, statements and court hearings, Marina was banned from leaving the country. “The political situation in Belarus in 2010 deteriorated significantly, I started working on politically motivated cases, represent the opposition, and immediately came under strong pressure from the authorities. After some time, it became obvious that at that stage I would not be allowed to develop professionally, and I began to think about alternative ways of development, ”recalls Marina.
The girl consulted with her husband and decided - you can continue to study, but already in America. “I sent the documents to Harvard, although at that time it seemed absolutely unrealistic to me - none of my acquaintances entered this university, I had no one to help even with advice.” And the girl had little time - she read the conditions for admission to the magistracy at the end of August, and by mid-October the entire package of documents had to be in the selection committee.
Marina independently prepared for TOEFL, found three people who wrote letters of recommendation to her in English, did a diploma evaluation, and compiled an essay. He says, if it is clear, point by point, to fulfill all the conditions that the university requires, it is not so difficult to assemble a package of documents.
“It is very important to demonstrate that you not only studied, but also did something extra. Any activity, even at school, matters. This information will help distinguish you among other applicants, ”emphasizes Marina. For example, she began writing her resume at school and each time supplemented it with new achievements.
Also, it was necessary to fill out an application for a grant separately. A year of study at Harvard Law School costs $ 40-50 thousand, Marina did not have that kind of money. “It was a questionnaire in which I had to indicate the income of the family, the assets that I own, in order for the university to be able to assess whether I need financial support or not.”
Gold medal, red diploma, study at an American exchange school, work with high-profile legal cases and active citizenship - all this brought Marina the long-awaited result in the form of a letter from Harvard with the lines “congratulations, you are accepted”.
The simpler the university, the easier it is to do, but the more difficult it is to get a grant for education
Ivy League universities have multi-million dollar budgets and love to demonstrate the multinationality of their students. Therefore, a foreigner to win financial assistance in such universities is easier. Colleges from the second or third hundred in the ranking have less money, and if they give grants, it is mostly their own, to American students. But even here there are several possibilities how to reduce the cost of training.
Firstly, you can first enter a community college - this is a municipal or state university. The prices here are several times lower, and after two years of study, you can immediately enter the third year at a better university. That is, in the first 2 years you will already save a significant amount.
You can also hope for a discount from the university. “Usually, when you are admitted to a university, the admissions committee sends you a list of opportunities. Sometimes, simply relying on points, they automatically give some kind of scholarship, ”Asya says. Melik-Martirosyan, Deputy Director of Admissions for Tanksis College, Connecticut. She works as a curator for foreign students and helps those who decide to act independently: “In each university, there is usually a person called International student advisor. And usually the whole admission process goes through such a specialist. ”
Asya advises: such a person in college should be found first. After all, he knows exactly all the requirements of this particular educational institution, the entire list of documents, moreover, he will give valuable, and most importantly, free advice.
“For this service, the student pays nothing, but pays for the application. The price is different in different universities, it can vary from $ 20 to $ 100. In the college where I work, it is $ 20, regardless of whether it is a foreigner or an American, ”Asya says.
In every American college there is a quota for foreign students, and they are usually accepted with pleasure to the university. After all, if we are talking about paid tuition, a college semester will cost 2 for foreign students more than the Americans, which is beneficial for the university. And if a student wins a grant, for a college it is an occasion to once again demonstrate what talented children from different countries of the world learn from them.
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