EducationUSA | U.S. College & University Admissions (Nov. 2017)

EducationUSA | U.S. College & University Admissions (Nov. 2017)

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. This week’s
interactive webinar is part of our celebration of
International Education Week. A joint initiative of
the Department of State and the Department of
Education to provide programs that prepare American students
for global challenges and that enables students from
abroad to study and learn in the United States. Our goal today is to
provide you with information on the admissions process
for American colleges and universities. We understand that getting
all the necessary paperwork and documents in order
can be a real challenge. That’s why later in
the program we’ll be joined by Tamara Lapman. She’s the Associate
Director of Admission at the University of Richmond. Tamara will provide
advice and tips on how best to navigate
the admissions process when applying to U.S. colleges
and universities. If you have questions
you would like her to answer
during the program, simply post them in the
discussion section below. You can also ask your questions
on Twitter using the hashtag #EducationUSA. Also joining us today
are two viewing groups from the Palestinian
territories, the American Corner, Nablus,
located at Najah University, and AMIDEAST, Gaza City. Welcome and thank you so
much for participating in our Facebook Live event. We will be coming back to
you throughout the program for your questions. We would like to welcome
other viewing groups gathered at U.S. embassies, American
Spaces, Fulbright Commissions, Binational Centers,
universities around the world, and many other places. I would now like
to introduce you to two international students,
Min Hwang and Nicky Mac Callum. Min is from South
Korea and is currently enrolled as an undergraduate
student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Nicky is from Hong
Kong, and studying at Pepperdine University. Min, what is the
focus of your degree and can you tell
us why you chose to study in the United States? MR. MIN HWANG: Yeah, of course. So I study political science
and international studies. And I chose to study
here in the United States not only to adapt to a
more globalizing world, but because I also realized
that a lot of professors and scholars that are on
top of any kind of subject reside and work here
in the United States. MR. BOLL: That’s
fantastic, thank you. Nicky. MR. NICKY MAC CALLUM: Yes. My major is in business
administration. And there are two main reasons
for me to come to United States to study. And first is because of
the liberal arts system. I think I should learn more than
only my major subjects in order for me to be more rounded. This will prepare me better
for the business world. And also the second reason is
that I think the great business atmosphere in the United
States can inspire me with more insights in this field. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. Thank you, Nicky. Let me stay with you and ask
you, what piece of advice would you give
international students when starting the process
to attend to university in the United States. MR. MAC CALLUM: I would
say that it is good for you to search around which
schools you like and learn more about the school
life over there before you apply to the school. MR. BOLL: OK, Min? MR. HWANG: I would say,
start the process early. Know vaguely of what
you want and start researching on what universities
and colleges are famous for. MR. BOLL: So, there are 4,700
accredited American colleges and universities. That’s a lot to choose from. MR. HWANG: Yes,
a lot of choices. MR. BOLL: Right. Min, I know you began
your education in the U.S. as a high school student. What were some of the resources
that you found helpful when you were beginning to look
into colleges and universities. MR. HWANG: Good question. So if you are fortunate to
start your education here, in the United States,
in high school, I would say everyone
can be a resource. The teachers that teach you. The high school advisors. Each school has an
advisor for the students. If you don’t start your
high school education here in the United
States, the internet is always a good resource. But I want to encourage everyone
to look beyond the rankings. Just because there are so many
other schools that are good. And good in a variety of
subjects that are not always included in the rankings. So a good way to
start researching would be just reading
about what you like and then just noting the
names of the professors and the scholars who
are quoted, Or who even author those papers or videos. And then just starting
your university searches through that way. MR. BOLL: That’s
very good advice. Nicky, is there
something you’d add to that from your perspective? MR. MAC CALLUM: I think
what Min mentioned is that you can use
internet to search many of the information
for the school. There are also
websites that help you to make better decisions. I think internet is
a great resource. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. And there are so many schools
that people need to find. Because as you say, the
rankings can be very, you know, they’re
certainly not everything. Far from it. And very important
for kids to realize that there are thousands
of excellent schools, with scholarships, with resources,
for them to look at. I’m wondering, did either of you
apply early, for early action? MR. HWANG: Yes. MR. BOLL: And, Min, how did– what was your experience? MR. HWANG: Well, just to let
you know, applying early action is a lot of work, just because
you have to prepare a lot. But I think it’s worth it. Just because applying
for early action, correct me if I’m
wrong, gives you a better chance of being
accepted to the university. So it’s a good opportunity to
try out for the universities that you want to reach out for. The ones that are kind
of “harder”, I would say. MR. BOLL: Did you make it? MR. HWANG: No, I did not. But I don’t regret it. MR. BOLL: Excellent. Nicky? MR. MAC CALLUM: Same for me. I also got rejected
by my early decision. However, it is a good
first taste for us. To taste how it feels
to apply to schools. And I think, yeah,
the process for us to research on how to apply
to our early decision school is a good practice. MR. BOLL: OK, that sounds
like excellent advice. What about the Common App? Were all the applications
the Common App? Were some different? Nicky, do you want to start? MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. I applied to 13 universities
in the United States and I applied to all of them
through Common Application. I think it’s a really
helpful app for you to submit the general documents. However, you need
to write essays for each different universities. MR. BOLL: Interesting. Maybe should we
move on to essays. Min, what was your
experience with essays? Is there any advice
you’d give students? MR. HWANG: I would say,
start early and brainstorm what you want to write about. Just because it’s
a great opportunity to show who you are. And at the same time,
you only get 500 words. So you have to be very concise
with what you want to say. So, I would say
brainstorm early. Just try to capture the
image or the message that you want that can
concisely carry out the message of who you are. So I would say, start
brainstorming early. And please don’t feel
afraid or shy to show your writing to other people. Just because it is those
kind of interactions that will improve your paper
and make it more successful. MR. BOLL: OK, Nikki? MR. MAC CALLUM: Yeah, I also
think it’s a great process to learn more about yourself. Because you have to write
so much about yourself, it’s good for you to
write more subjectively. It’s not like writing
a research paper. You need to tell more
about who you are instead of what you are thinking about. MR. BOLL: Just an off
the wall question, do you remember what some of
the essays were on one of them? MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes, I remember
one really interesting question asking, what is your
opinion of faith. Or how faith helped you
to grow in your life. And I think this is something
that I thought through for many nights. And then, yeah. MR. BOLL: So it’s to
get you to think, right, as well as to write. Sorry, Min. MR. HWANG: Do you mind
if I add a prompt? MR. BOLL: Please. MR. HWANG: Yeah, so, I just
remembered one university asked me to compare
apples to oranges. And it was one of the hardest
essay questions to work for. MR. BOLL: So is, I
mean, is your advice that students really
need to think about this and be creative but also
not to be afraid to lay out what they think. MR. HWANG: Yes. MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes,
I think, be yourself is the most important thing. MR. BOLL: OK,
because universities want to get to know
you as an individual? MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes, because
I think many of the admissions are humans too, so they want
to know more about your story. They’re the human
who care about it. MR. BOLL: Very interesting. That’s– I think that’s
excellent advice. So is– I know that
one of the big elements of the process that can be
a challenge for students overseas is recommendations. And I’m wondering if you
have any advice about whom to approach for
a recommendation, or how the process works. Min, do you want to– MR. HWANG: Yeah, I can start. So your teachers are
always a good place to start just because they know
what kind of a student you are. But the recommendation
letters don’t have to be limited to teachers. They can also be to, let’s
say, if you were involved in a extracurricular activity. Your coaches– any kind of
people who were older than you, I would say, who knows what
kind of a person you are. But at the same time for
international students you always have to worry about
the translation services. Because some
teachers do not know how to write in English,
because it’s a foreign place. Yeah, so just be
cautious about that. MR. BOLL: OK, that sounds
like very good advice. Nicky. MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. I think one thing I
want to add to what Min said is that if you had
internship in any workplace, your boss or your supervisor
is a great place to start too. MR. BOLL: OK. Did you have to explain
what a recommendation was? Do people understand the
idea that a university would be asking someone about you? MR. MAC CALLUM: I think teachers
or supervisors are expected to write these letters. But if they do not
know, you can simply show them the instruction. MR. BOLL: OK, very interesting. And I know that one big part
of the application process, for some universities,
is an interview– is a personal interview. Did either of you
have an interview? And what was your
experience, how would you advise on preparing? Nicky, do you want
to start with that? MR. MAC CALLUM: Sure. Because the time
when I was applying I was actually in Hong Kong. So I did not have the chance to
do interviews with the school administrations. However, I did have four
interviews with school alumni. And then, through them,
I can understand more about the school. And the school can also have
some understanding on me too. MR. BOLL: OK, excellent. And were those interviews– what were the kinds of things
that they talked about? MR. MAC CALLUM: It’s pretty
much like coffee time. You go into a cafe and then
you two discussing about why do you want to
apply to this university and questions like that. MR. BOLL: OK, and I can say
from my own personal experience, that’s exactly what
happened to me. I was interviewed by an
alumnus of the school where I went who– and it was exactly
that, coffee time. Sort of, very
relaxed, very nice. And trying to get to know
me as a young person. So I’m glad to hear that
that hasn’t changed. Min, was that your
experience as well? MR. HWANG: Uh, kind of. I also did face to face, and
I did Skype at the same time. Yeah, and just going
along with both of you, it was like coffee
time questions. And they also asked
me about my career. Questions like what you
want to do, what are you passionate about, what
are your interests are. Having those answers kind
of prepared, I think, will be very helpful if
you are doing an interview. MR. BOLL: OK. Did– was the Skype session
difficult in any way? Was it different,
sort of, you know, is it different in person
versus when you’re on camera? MR. HWANG: It’s a little bit
more awkward in the beginning. But, you know, after
the introductions the ice breaks down, and
then it’s as comfortable. I mean, the advisors
who come to talk to you, or the alumnus, or
the alumni, they try their best to
make the interview as comfortable as for you. Just because they know,
as an interviewer, that this is your first
interview experience. MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. MR. BOLL: So it also doesn’t
have to be perfect, I imagine. So for example, you know,
the dog runs into the room, don’t worry right? They want to see you as a
person in where you live and kind of get to know you. MR. HWANG: Yes MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. MR. BOLL: Is that fair? OK, that’s fantastic. So, before we end,
I wonder quickly what were the key factors that
led you through the process in terms of also
deciding where to apply? Is there any part of
the process itself that influenced your decision
about where to apply? MR. MAC CALLUM: I think it’s
good if your high school have counselors. You can start with
talking to them. They will guide you
through the process. And I think that’s a really
important factor that helped me to apply to
search on different schools. MR. BOLL: Min, any? MR. HWANG: Uh, a big
factor for me was the cost. And so I looked into the
schools according to the cost. And then I was able to
find out that some schools, although they’re
not in the rankings, they have one of the
world’s best programs in certain subject areas. And they are cheaper
at the same time. And so it’s– knowing
what you want, and being open to unexpected
opportunities that come to you, and then just embracing that. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. And certainly at EducationUSA
that’s one of the things we try to promote the most. That our advisors
are looking to help students find the right
fit in a school, right? To make sure that they realize
that there are 4,700 excellent accredited institutions
all over the country. And that students
need to dig deep in order to find what the
right school is for them. And that they have
lots of options. MR. HWANG: There
is always the fit. MR. BOLL: The
right fit, exactly. MR. HWANG: There is
always the right fit. MR. BOLL: Before we end,
any last piece of advice you’d give students
about the whole process? MR. HWANG: Hmm. I would say, don’t be afraid. You know, coming to the United
States most of the foreigners have to fly. Usually, it’s in
another hemisphere. But it sounds scary
at the first time. I mean, it sounds scary to me. Studying in the United
States by myself, with no family in the
country, sounded scary. But when you come here,
everyone’s very accommodating, and it’s not as bad
as you imagined. It’s amazing. It’s a great place to study. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. Nicky? MR. MAC CALLUM: I
think one thing, it’s about SAT or ACT,
this kind of standard test. They’re not
everything, of course. But however, you need
to be aware and prepare earlier for those exams. MR. BOLL: So take
the exams seriously, but they’re also not everything. MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. MR. BOLL: Schools are looking
at you as kind of a whole– MR. MAC CALLUM: Yes. MR. BOLL: –human
being and student. MR. HWANG: Yes MR. BOLL: OK, well,
thank you both very much. Min and Nicky, thank you so
much for joining us today. If you want to hear
more from Min and Nicky, they will be participating
in our Facebook chat. Just ask your questions in
the discussion section below. They’ll be online to answer your
questions throughout the rest of the program. Coming up next, Tamara
Lapman will join us. She is going to discuss
how the college admission process works, and
what you can do to improve your chances of
getting into a school that’s right for you. Remember, if you’ve got
questions or topics you want her to address, please ask
them in the discussion section below. You can also post your questions
on Twitter using the hashtag #EducationUSA. Right now, we want to spotlight
some of the things we do here at EducationUSA, and share a
short message from our partner school for this webinar,
the University of Richmond. We’ll be right back. [MUSIC PLAYING] MR. BOLL: Hi, I’m Fred Boll. I represent EducationUSA at
the U.S. Department of State, here in Washington D.C. With
over 400 advising centers around the world, EducationUSA
is the U.S. Department of State’s official source for
finding the right U.S. College or university for your studies. American universities
and U.S. communities value international
students, and they are sending a strong message
of welcome through the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign. Whoever you are, and
wherever you’re from, come join the more than one
million international students currently studying in
all 50 U.S. states. I encourage you to visit
an EducationUSA advising center near you today. You can find us at to learn more. [MUSIC CONTINUES] VOICEOVER: Why do I love
the University of Richmond? Where else can you find a
leading liberal arts university with a top ranked business
school, the nation’s first leadership school,
plus strong professional and graduate programs, and
Division I athletics? At Richmond, we’re
led by faculty who are experts in their fields
and also know us by name. And we’re guaranteed
funding to support one summer internship
or research project anywhere in the world. The University of
Richmond, make it your own. MR. BOLL: Welcome back. I would now like to
introduce Tamara Lapman. Tamara has worked in
undergraduate admission for the past 12 years
and is currently the Associate Director of
Admission at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Tamara, before we
get started, let’s check in with our viewing
groups in Gaza and Nablus to find out some of the
things that students are interested in learning about. AMIDEAST, Gaza City,
can I turn to you? What the topics you
would like to hear about? GAZA AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] Hi. Do you hear us? MR. BOLL: Hi, Gaza. GAZA AUDIENCE: Yeah, hi. [INAUDIBLE] college
admission process. And how to get financial
aid or scholarship? MR. BOLL: OK, so the question
is about financial aid and scholarships. What is the best approach. Thank you very much, Gaza. MS. TAMARA LAPMAN:
Well, to get started, I think it’s so important
that you do research. As you’ve already
heard, there are so many colleges and
universities in the U.S. with so many different policies. So is it possible to
find a school where you’re able to get the financial
aid or scholarships you need? Absolutely. It’s just going to
take a bit of homework, and really making
sure that you follow all the deadlines and
application requirements, to get that consideration. MR. BOLL: Is
financial aid linked to the application itself? Does it happen at the same time? MS. LAPMAN: For
most schools, yes. Again, there’s going to
be differences from school to school, but typically those
two processes run concurrently. And at the same time
that we’re reviewing a student for admission,
we are reviewing them for potential merit
scholarships and need based aid, if a school
is offering those to international students. We know that those
are so closely linked for students and families. We want to make sure that we’re
giving you all the information at the same time MR. BOLL: OK, excellent. Gaza, do you have
one more question? GAZA AUDIENCE: I think, for now,
we don’t have any questions. So, we’ll see. MR. BOLL: That’s great,
thank you very much, Gaza. Let me turn to the
American Corner in Nablus. What are some of the
things that you are interested in learning about? NABLUS AUDIENCE: Hello. [INAUDIBLE] GPA [INAUDIBLE]
and the [INAUDIBLE] we want to know about what to
look for in the university. I want to ask another
thing about GPA. So, my GPA is 2.6,
and I already checked for three requirements– three
university’s requirements. The universities are
University of Texas at Dallas, at Arlington, and
University of North Texas. So they require a GPA of at
least 3.0, and my GPA is 2.6. So do I have a chance in order
to continue the operation of doing the exams? The GRE and TOEFL exams? That’s my question, and
that’s our question. Thank you. MR. BOLL: Thank you
very much, Nablus. That’s an excellent question. So, to repeat
quickly, the questions are about test scores, GREs,
other standardized tests. What students should expect
and plan for in terms of, if a level is set, does
that mean that they have to be at that level? What, I guess, what’s the
flexibility around that. And the same question for GPA. So if a school says,
we require a GPA of x, and the student’s
GPA is slightly less than x, does that– well how should
the student assess that in terms of
submitting an application. Excellent questions. MS. LAPMAN: Well, the
first thing to know is, as we are
reviewing applications and our applicants,
our first priority is to make sure that they’re
academically prepared to be successful. To come in and to just jump
right into our curriculum. And of course then to be
successful and graduate in four years. And so looking at a student’s
academic preparedness from their transcript, their
GPA, maybe standardized test scores, essays, all of that
helps paint a picture of that. Some schools practice
holistic admission, where we’re really getting to
know you as a whole person. And there might be less
stringent or less rigid minimum requirements. So for example, at Richmond, we
don’t have minimums but rather ranges. But you’re going to need to look
at every school you apply to and see whether that would
be the case for them. MR. BOLL: So will each school
actually tell students, this is what we’re looking at
and how we’re looking at it. MS. LAPMAN: Typically, yes. And our web sites are
the very best resource for the most accurate and
most up to date information. And so we’ll tell you
exactly what materials we’re looking for. So whether we require
standardized tests and whether there’s a
minimum requirement. And we put those
requirements out there because those are all the things
that we’re really looking for. And we spend a lot
of time and energy getting to know our applicants. Again, with that
goal of making sure that they’re going to
be successful, and have a really strong four year
experience on our campuses. MR. BOLL: OK, that’s fantastic. So it sounds like
students, as in all things, have to dig deep
into each school. Into each school that
they’re applying to, that they’re
interested in, to see what the parameters are of
what the school is looking for. MS. LAPMAN: Exactly. MR. BOLL: OK, that’s fantastic. Nablus, do you have
another question, or shall we turn to
our online viewers? I’m happy to come
back to you later. NABLUS AUDIENCE: We
are fine for now. MR. BOLL: OK, thank
you very much. We appreciate the
question, and we’ll come back later to see if
you have any follow up. Let us turn to some
questions from viewers. With those topics
in mind, do you want to maybe begin by just
giving some general advice about the best
process for students to pursue their education? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. Well, as you heard
from the last segment, there are so many options
within the United States. And for students to
do their research, and apply to schools that
are the best fit for them, is really the best way
to start the process. There’s really three
points of decision within the college application
and admission process. And the first lies
for the student in selecting what school’s
they’re going to apply to. And so I think really
using that as an empowering place to think about what’s
the right fit in terms of size, or location, and
academic programs. And then that’s
going to really help a student improve their
chances if they’re applying to schools
that are a good fit and have a really
well-crafted list. Perhaps some schools
that are more of a reach, some that are
a bit more of a safety, but to have options. And then as the admission
teams are carefully reviewing applications,
it gives us a better sense of what you would
be able to contribute and bring to our campus. MR. BOLL: OK, fantastic. Do you want to talk about
timelines, requirements, the basic process? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. And I’ll preface by saying
every school in the U.S. is going to be a
little bit different. Again, research is so important. Early decision and
early action are pretty common plans
that you might find. So if you’re thinking
about the process early and are really anxious
and eager to get started, those can be great options. But it’s important to
know the limitations. So an early decision application
would be binding in most cases. Meaning that you’re only
applying to one school, and if you’re admitted, you’re
committed to going there. So that’s not the right
choice for every student. There are early
action plans which allow you to hear back sooner
but without that binding commitment. And then there are regular
decision deadlines. And some schools follow
rolling admission, where you really have
a lot more flexibility. Of course, you still need
to meet the deadlines. But then once you
would hear back, you have time in the
spring to consider your options before ultimately
making a decision by May 1. May 1 is a really important date
in American higher education. It’s an enrollment
confirmation deadline so we’re able to reserve
a spot in the class, and potentially
in campus housing, for the students
enrolling in the fall. MR. BOLL: So students who
try for early admission but don’t make it, are
they then considered again in the wider pool of
students applying? MS. LAPMAN: They can be. Many schools will
defer students, especially if there’s additional
information we might get. So sometimes a student
has applied in the fall, but we know that they’re
taking the SAT again. Or they’re taking the TOEFL. Or they’re still
in school and we want to see their mid-year
grades, their next exam scores. So there are a lot of reasons
why we might defer a student, so we can really give them
another chance and another look in a later application pool. MR. BOLL: OK, that’s good. What about financial
aid and scholarships? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely, probably
the most common question I get when recruiting
internationally. And what’s great is that there
are schools in the United States that will review
international students for merit scholarships. Some will review for
need-based financial aid. Some both, and some neither. But typically, schools will ask
you to submit your application for financial aid at the
time you apply for admission. So transparency in
that, understanding what you and your family are
going to need, is important. So need-based
financial aid is based on what you and your family are
able to pay towards your cost of attendance for four years. Whereas merit scholarships
might be rewarding you for your academic
achievements, or perhaps other talents or skills. Whether that’s athletics, or
the arts, or other things. But it’s very important
to follow those deadlines and to understand some
of the other terminology. So while some schools might be
need-blind in their process, meaning that your
need for financial aid is not considered,
they might not guarantee that they’ll meet
full demonstrated need. So if you are going to need full
financial aid to attend school in the United States,
finding a school that is going to meet your
full demonstrated need is really, really important. And that’s our
philosophy to ensure that you’re able to take us
up on that offer of admission and not worry about paying for
school for your four years. MR. BOLL: Thank you for this. Excellent advice. I’d like to point out that,
for reference, viewers can look at EducationUSA webinars. Previous interactive webinars,
specifically on financial aid issues, which you can
find through our web site or also on YouTube. Tamara, once students
have done their research, gathered the right documents,
and filled out paperwork, what are some of the things
they should keep in mind before submitting the
final application? MS. LAPMAN: So most important
is to put your best foot forward and to be yourself. In a holistic
review process we’re really looking to get to
know you as a whole person. Yes, your academic
preparation is most important, but as we’re building
classes and communities we want to know what else
you’re going to contribute. So make sure that those
things that you’ve spent your time
and energy on are reflected in your application. It doesn’t have to be just the
traditional school-based club. It might be something that
you do in your community. It might be a part-time job
or family responsibilities. We’re really wanting
to understand what passions and interests
you’re going to bring to us. So making sure that
that all comes through. Making sure that your essays
are great representations of your writing, but
also share your voice. And again, making sure that
you’re meeting deadlines and submitting everything
that we’re looking for. MR. BOLL: So it’s a little
bit like preparing for class. Making sure if you
want a good grade, you also have to do the right
work to prepare, and make sure that you’re ready for the test. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. And I should say that we
don’t expect you to figure all of that out on your own. On our websites,
again, where you can find some great
details about the process, you can also find
contact information for your admission officer. So typically schools will
have admission counselors that work with different
parts of the world. And we’re really excited to
be a resource and potentially an advocate for you as you
go through that process. And so don’t be shy
to reach out to us. MR. BOLL: So, students could
send an e-mail, is that right? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. MR. BOLL: Fantastic. Do you want to talk about
standardized testing at all? MS. LAPMAN: Sure. Standardized testing
may be one piece of that holistic review for
some colleges and universities. And it’s because we’re
well-equipped to review curricula and grades
from all over the world. Wherever you are
attending school. But standardized tests give us
that standard across the world and across all of
our applicants. So typically it is
just one factor of many that we’re looking at. And there are some
schools now that have moved to a
more test-flexible or a test-optional policy. So I know in some
parts of the world it can be challenging
to find a testing center or to fit that in timing wise. So if that is the
case for you, there may be other schools to
look at who don’t place as high an emphasis on that. But if it is a requirement,
it is something that we need to have completed,
again, before our deadline. MR. BOLL: And do schools
take into account that many international
students are not native English speakers? That, of course, they’re
coming with rich and different backgrounds? MS. LAPMAN:
Absolutely, absolutely. We are understanding
that, as we’re reviewing your transcripts,
reading your essays, certainly looking at
SAT and ACT scores. And in some cases, if
English isn’t a student’s first language, we’re looking
for an English proficiency exam. So typically TOEFL or IELTS. And again, that’s
helping us to understand if a student is
really well-prepared to jump into our curriculum. Especially if you’re
going to be expected to participate in
class right away, and to be writing essays and
lengthy papers in English. All of those pieces help
us to ensure that you’re ready to be successful in that. MR. BOLL: And I know that
U.S. universities and colleges are very focused on their
student success, right. I mean, you want them– that’s. I think, one of the special
things about the United States. Our whole system
is designed to see students succeed in the end. And we want a
relationship with students that lasts their
whole lifetime, right. They become alumni, they engage
the United States communities. I think that’s one of
the strong messages that U.S. higher
education sends. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. And our diverse campuses are one
of our most valuable resources. So we really value having
a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives
and experiences. Because students aren’t just
learning from their professors, they’re learning
from each other. You’re not just a
student in a classroom. But you might be someone’s
roommate, someone’s teammate. And so we want to
understand that you’re contributing, in so many ways,
during your four years and then beyond. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. Could you tell–
I’m sure students are curious about how
decisions are communicated when you do make a decision. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. Well, as I referenced before,
so that first point of decision is for the student. Where are you going to apply. And then we spend many,
many weeks and months reviewing those applications. And when it’s time for
us to release decisions, typically for students
outside the U.S. we do that electronically,
so it gets you more quickly. Some schools will
send an e-mail. Others might have an
application portal where you have login credentials. And at a specified date
and time can go online to get your decision. Typically related to
admission and financial aid, if you’ve applied for that. And then again, if you’re
in an early decision plan, that might be the
end of the road. But in other
non-binding plans that starts the comparison game. And maybe thinking about
asking more questions, connecting with current
students or professors, as you make that ultimate
decision of where to enroll. MR. BOLL: So and
financial aid information will be communicated
at the same time? Is that typical? MS. LAPMAN: Typically, yes. We understand that, again,
for so many students, paying for college is
a really important part of that decision. And so if you’ve submitted all
of the application materials, we want to make sure
that we’re communicating the full decision to you. And then certainly
you can ask questions, but typically we are putting out
every possible aid opportunity for you at that time. So anything that
you’re qualified for, need or merit based. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. Do you want to talk at all about
what you hear from students? Any perceived barriers or
concerns that they have? Questions that get sent to you. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. So many students are really
worried about affording a U.S. education. And I think it’s
important, again, to know that there are so
many schools in the U.S. with great opportunities. Because we want international
students on our campuses. We know how much you’ll
enrich our communities. And so we offer
resources for you. It’s a matter of finding
the schools that have that. Similarly, when
there are concerns about standardized
testing, access to it, or maybe you’re just not a
great standardized test taker. That might be a
case where you find a school that doesn’t
place as much emphasis or doesn’t require that. So part of the beauty of
American higher education is the variety. And why finding that
right fit is so important. MR. BOLL: Yeah, I think
that’s exactly right. EducationUSA is dedicated to
promoting all 4,700 colleges and universities equally. And we really want students to
understand the great variety and richness of American
higher education. That really means
that they can find a best fit for each individual. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely,
and that’s our goal throughout the process. MR. BOLL: Well, thank
you very much, Tamara. This is very
valuable information. Let’s quickly go back to
our viewing groups gathered in the Palestinian territories. How about the American
Corner in Nablus, or sorry, Gaza is online now. Gaza, do you have a follow-up
question you’d like to ask? GAZA AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] Is it Nablus or Gaza? MR. BOLL: Sorry, Gaza. Gaza, please go ahead. GAZA AUDIENCE: Hello,
I have a question. If I’m accepted, may I
delay my offer of admission to the next year? MR. BOLL: So the– very
good question thank you. If I’m accepted, can I delay
my offer, my acceptance, for a year? MS. LAPMAN: Typically the
answer is going to be yes. We will defer an
acceptance for a period. Usually one year or two years. What’s important is that
you let us know why. And we know there are many great
reasons why a student might take a gap in their education. But typically, if
you have decided to enroll in another college
or university during that time, you would need to reapply. MR. BOLL: I see, OK. Gaza, any further questions? GAZA AUDIENCE: Yes,
actually, regarding the personal statement. I believe that in
every application, when we apply for a university,
there must be writing for personal statement essay. So what are the most
important things that we should take care of when
writing our personal statement. Regarding the style,
regarding the things that attract the
admission officers. MR. BOLL: Thank you
very much, Gaza. So the question’s
about personal essays. What are the most
important things that admissions
officers are looking at. What should students
be thinking about as they’re writing their essays. Could you talk a
little bit about those? MS. LAPMAN: Of course. So when we’re
reviewing essays, we’re really looking for
two different things. One is your writing ability. So we want to make sure that
it’s a well-crafted essay and that you’re answering
the question that you’ve chosen to answer. But beyond that we’re really
looking to hear your voice. So we want to get to know
you, the applicant, better. If you think about all the other
pieces of your application, we have letters
of recommendation where we’re hearing
about you from others. We’re hearing a list
of your activities. Seeing your grades,
seeing your scores. The essay is the one chance you
have to really let your voice shine through. And that’s important
because we want to hear that voice that voice. That you’d be bringing to
our campus and our community for four years. MR. BOLL: So I assume
that also coming from students who are not
native English speakers, that voice might not– there might be some
mistakes in the essay. But what you’re looking for is
the ideas and the real person that’s behind the essay, right? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. And we understand that context. We understand where
you’re coming from. And we expect the essay
to look that way, then. So while certainly
getting trusted people to review it, to
get some tips, we don’t want it to look like
someone else wrote it. MR. BOLL: Right. MS. LAPMAN: So we
expect that it’s going to come from someone who’s
perhaps 17 or 18 years old. Who has been studying
English for a portion of their education,
and who is putting their thoughts and their voice
out there through that essay. MR. BOLL: I’m sure
you can mostly tell if someone
else looks like it’s been– if it’s been
written by someone else, essentially, right? MS. LAPMAN: Right. And authenticity is so important
throughout the process. As colleges and
universities, we’re sharing with you
what you can expect when you get to our campuses. So we want students to do the
same through their application so we know what we’re getting if
we admit you, and you join us. We want to understand that
voice that you’ll bring. MR. BOLL: That’s great. Gaza, thank you very
much for your questions. Let’s now go to the
American Corner in Nablus. Nablus, do you have
a question for us? NABLUS AUDIENCE: Yeah, actually. I have two questions. The first question is,
is there opportunities to get MA and PhD
degree at the same time? MR. BOLL: Thank you very much. The question is, are
there opportunities to do more than one
degree at the same time. BA, MA, PhD, combined degrees. MS. LAPMAN: Some
schools will offer that. And everyone of our
websites is going to tell you exactly what
our academic offerings are. And there are some
schools that will allow you to pursue two
degrees at the same time, or maybe have an
accelerated route towards a graduate degree. And so there might be different
admission requirements. Some schools, when
they are reviewing you for admission as a
first year student, will review you into those
accelerated or dual degree tracks. Other schools will allow
you to come in and apply for that once you’re
already on our campus. MR. BOLL: Does it
depend on the subject you’re studying oftentimes? So a school, for example,
might have that track for certain subjects
but not for others? MS. LAPMAN: Exactly. It could. MR. BOLL: OK, thank
you very much. Excellent question. Nablus, any further questions? NABLUS AUDIENCE: Yeah, actually
I have another question. So, besides the
information you were saying, what are the websites
we can visit to find good MA programs with scholarships. MR. BOLL: So other
than EducationUSA, are there resources for
students looking at programs with scholarships attached. MS. LAPMAN: Sure. Institutional websites. So actual university
websites are going to be some of
the best resources. Because you can feel confident
that they are up to date and fully accurate. And if you don’t find
all of the details that you want on that page
for a particular program, there’s typically
contact information. And you can reach out and ask. Because we know that that’s
a really important– knowing if scholarships are
available might matter what when you’re deciding
whether or not to apply. MR. BOLL: So that’s one of
those specific areas where you actually might
write an e-mail and follow up and ask specific
questions of a school. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. MR. BOLL: OK, thank
you very much. Nablus, welcome. We have another question. NABLUS AUDIENCE:
I have a question. I would like to ask about
the Fulbright scholarship. It’s for all universities in
the United States, or not? And what’s the
eligibility for that? MR. BOLL: So the question is
about Fulbright scholarships and whether or not it applies to
all universities in the United States, what the parameters
are, what eligibility is. I don’t know if that’s– MS. LAPMAN: Well I’ll
admit that that’s not my area of expertise. However, on our campus we
have an office of scholarships and fellowships. And so there are offices
and student services to help you apply for
things like Fulbrights or other scholarships and
fellowships down the line. So you know exactly
what’s necessary and exactly what to do. And so I think that
really ties into all of the different
support services and resources on our campuses. And again, on our
websites as well. We know that if you’re
coming from a distance, that can be the
best way to learn about those opportunities. MR. BOLL: And let me say from–
thank you very much Tamara– and let me say from the
Department of State side, we are honored to
house the Fulbright Program in the Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs. It’s one of the– it’s the
major flagship exchange program for the United
States Government. There are many
different possibilities for students under Fulbright. I encourage you to look at
the specific websites related to Fulbright directly to see
what different scholarships are possible. That can happen through your
American embassy or consulate locally. They will have information. EducationUSA certainly
will have information. And likewise the State
Department’s own website will have direct information. Specific programs
linked to universities, go to that university
for the information. It’s a program that
we’re very proud of and that does offer great
opportunity for students. Thank you very much
to Gaza and Nablus. It’s now time to
get some questions from our online viewers. So first up, a Facebook
question from a viewing group in the International Resource
Center in Kigali, Rwanda. Thank you. The question is,
what are the benefits of studying in the U.S.A.
compared to other countries. It’s a big question and
an excellent question. How would you describe that from
higher education’s perspective? MS. LAPMAN: Sure. Well, one of the
most beautiful things about American
higher education is that you’re able to study
a variety of fields. So in many systems
around the world, students have narrowed
down their courses of study even before they get to
the university level. And are really, really
focused in on that as they complete their degree. In the United States, there
are many opportunities to combine programs, to pursue
interdisciplinary studies, and to be undecided. And so we see a lot of
students who come in, who enter our schools who
have lots of interests. And that’s great,
we encourage that. And we’re going to help you to
connect with things that you want to study in more depth. That you’re going to
build that expertise and have that major or majors. But at the same
time you’re going to get that breadth
of an education. MR. BOLL: So its breadth,
flexibility, offer– I would add from my own side
is, of course, the quality of us higher education. Through and through,
students are exposed to the best
resources, the best teachers. And one thing that we at
EducationUSA hear frequently from partners, is that
they notice how focused schools are on student success. It’s not just a question in
the United States of students moving through the
system, graduating, but actually being looked
at as individual students. And schools make an
investment in their students’ professional careers as well. Schools don’t just think
of you as a student, they think of you as a
person, and they really want you to succeed. So let’s go to our next
question, also from Facebook. Do schools consider all
your academic interests when you apply, or
just the subject you want to major in
when you’re a student? Excellent question. MS. LAPMAN: The
answer really is going to be dependent on the school. So I’d say, to generalize,
at a much larger university, you might be applying directly
into a college or a school or a particular program. In which case, yes, in
the admissions process we are considering that. Particularly at liberal
arts and sciences colleges and universities,
we certainly want to know what you’re
interested in. But we’re not going to
review you solely for that. Most students will
come in and explore. And then at these schools
you would apply to a major or declare that major
usually in your second year. MR. BOLL: OK. Does that mean anything–
to have anything to do with whether or not the
student can change majors? MS. LAPMAN: It does, it does. So at a school where
you have to apply, say, to a school of
engineering from day one, that might be very difficult
to transfer out of that into a school of business. Or to get into a
school that you haven’t been accepted to from day one. Whereas at other schools
there’s a lot more flexibility. And more of an
understanding that if you’ve been admitted to the
university, we feel like you’re well-qualified to study
anything that you wish. And we know that
students are going to change their mind,
usually more than once. And so our system can be
set up to allow for that. And to make sure that students
are able to change majors when that change of heart happens. MR. BOLL: So students
should look very carefully at each university. It sounds like going from
sociology to psychology is probably not too
difficult. But that if you want to go from
engineering to history, that that might be
a different school. And so students
need to look at that and think, OK, what does
this mean for the application process. MS. LAPMAN: Exactly. MR. BOLL: Fantastic advice. We have another question
from a student in Morocco. He says, I’m in the 11th grade. When do I have to
apply for universities and how do I use the
Common Application. MS. LAPMAN: Well, I’m
going to set that up with our current calendar
year, which will hopefully help to clarify that. So for students who are planning
to start their university studies in the fall of 2018,
our application process started in the fall. So our first deadline, and
many schools first deadlines were in November of 2017. So it’s usually the late summer
and early fall of year 12, of grade 12, that students are
beginning their applications. Typically in
anticipation of deadlines that are in the
late fall or winter. And then the final
decision of where to enroll being May 1 of that
year that you are enrolling. So as for the
Common Application, the Common Application can be
started each year August 1. And students are able to start
submitting their applications. And it really does
streamline the process a bit, And allow students
to start doing that. And then as they are they’re
crafting their list, narrowing down the schools they’re
going to apply to, they can begin working on those
more specific requirements. Maybe an additional essay or
requesting an additional letter of recommendation that
a school might require. But starting earlier with
the Common Application is a great way to feel like
you’re making progress. To maybe get some of the
nerves out a little bit. And to help yourself meet
those later deadlines. We can tell when the
application has been started and finished that
night of the deadline. And it’s typically not putting
the student’s best foot forward. MR. BOLL: I can imagine. So prepare, do your homework. And it sounds like looking at
schools well in advance, a year and a half, two years,
is not too early. MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. So when I’m
traveling and meeting with students at schools
around the world, it’s not just those who are
applying in the current year. It might be those who are one
or even two years younger. And they’re starting to look,
and I really appreciate that. And so it’s great, it’s OK
to have more basic questions as you’re gaining
an understanding. We’re here to help you. We’re here to help educate
you on the opportunities and to know what you
might need to achieve. So whether there
is a minimum GPA, or whether there
are standardized tests that you’ll need
to sign up for and take. Certainly, getting
an early start is going to be in
your best interest. MR. BOLL: That’s great advice. We have another
question from Facebook. Do I need to send all
documents at one time to the university when I go
through the admissions process? Or can I send my test
scores later, for example. MS. LAPMAN: So usually
it’s absolutely fine to send things piece by piece. And we have great offices in
place to compile all of that, and to make sure that once
we’ve received everything, and your application
is complete, it’s ready to be reviewed. So that’s certainly fine. Through the Common
Application, there’s a great way for
your school official to send your transcripts, to
send those official school documents that we need. So you, as the
applicant, wouldn’t be submitting a transcript or
a letter of recommendation. That can be done online
any time after you’ve submitted your application. And likewise test
scores will come from testing agencies
at a later time, and that’s absolutely fine. MR. BOLL: So that’s fine. Will schools let
students know when their application is complete? MS. LAPMAN: Sometimes. Many times universities
have some kind of portal. Similar to the decision
portal I mentioned earlier, where students might be able to
log on to get their admission decision. We also frequently have a portal
where students can log on, at any point, to see
what we’ve received, and what we’re
still waiting for. And so that can be a
really, really great tool for you to manage that. And to make sure that
everything gets to us on time. MR. BOLL: OK,
excellent, thank you. So another question
from EducationUSA in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Are international students
eligible to work on campus? How does the work study
program actually work? MS. LAPMAN: Great question. Campus work study is
a great opportunity for students to earn
some additional funding towards their expenses. And although
international students wouldn’t be eligible for
federal funds to do that, many schools have institutional
funds dedicated to that. And so you will
find that you can apply for a job on our campus. Typically where you’re only
working a reasonable number of hours a week,
because of course we know that you’re a
student first and foremost. But that can be a
great way to earn some extra money towards
books or travel expenses, or to put towards tuition. MR. BOLL: Fantastic, thank you. Another question, from Nepal. Does the recommendation
letter really matter if a university doesn’t
mention it in requirements? So does that happen? MS. LAPMAN: Sure, sure. So my best advice is to
submit to a university what has been requested or required. If a school is not asking for
letters of recommendation, and you submit them, they
may or may not be considered. That’s a question that you can
ask, but a good rule of thumb is to just submit what has
been indicated as a required piece of the application. MR. BOLL: Have
you ever received, personally at the
university, things that you didn’t
expect from students, like supplemental materials? MS. LAPMAN: All the
time, all the time. And I wish I had time
to read all of those. But many of our institutions
received thousands and thousands of applications. And it’s so important to
us that we’re thoroughly reviewing everything
that we ask for, that we know is really
important in helping us determine a student’s
preparedness and fit. So sometimes having numerous
other letters, or portfolios, or other accomplishments. Well, we wish we had the
time to look at all of that. Sometimes we ask you
to kind of curate that, and make sure that
you’re sending us the most important
pieces of things that you want to make
sure are not overlooked. MR. BOLL: So make sure that
everything that’s asked for is in the application. And then you can send
supplemental things, but you can’t be
sure of what part that will play in
the application. The most important part is
to fulfill the requirements. Is that right? MS. LAPMAN: Exactly. The example I use for
students sometimes, if we require just one
letter of recommendation, you might have asked your
math teacher to submit that. And that math teacher
knows you well, it’s a subject
that you excel in, and you really want us
to read that letter. But if there are three
other letters that happen to be on top
of that in your file, we may not get to that
really strong letter that was your first priority. So you don’t necessarily
know how much time we’re able to dedicate to that. And so again, we don’t want
you to possibly cover up some of those more
important materials that we’re really looking for. MR. BOLL: OK, thank you. Our next question, on
average, how many schools should I apply to? I’m sure that’s on a
lot of students minds. MS. LAPMAN: And it’s a
contentious question. Some students really want to
apply to a lot of schools. They think that that will
improve their chances. Personally, I think a list
of six or maybe seven schools is adequate. Again, to really
have a good variety of schools that you feel like
you are very well qualified for, where you know you
meet their requirements. Some that you aspire to, where
it might be a little bit more of a reach, but you
know that it’s a school that you’d love to attend. And then others that are
right there in the middle. But in general you only
want to apply to schools that you can really see yourself
actually attending, and being a good fit should
you be admitted. MR. BOLL: OK, thank
you very much. So the next question is
from our online viewers. When should I start the process
of taking standardized tests, as far as applying to schools? MS. LAPMAN: So with
standardized testing, I would say earlier is better. Especially we’ve seen
that there are sometimes testing cancellations. There can be other delays. You might even just
get sick on a test day. Waiting until that last
possible administration is probably not the best choice. So as soon as you
know that you’re going to apply to colleges
and universities in the U.S., that’s when I would say
start looking at the calendar and plan out. If you have someone
at your school, an advisor, or an
EducationUSA advisor, who can help you to map that out,
that can be really great. You might want to take
a standardized test more than once. And you might want
to, again, make sure that you’re starting
the applications early enough that you
can be really thoughtful. That you can go back and revise
your essays and make sure that everything is there
that you want to be there. MR. BOLL: Can students
retake standardized tests? MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. So a very typical process
for us is that we’ll take the best scores. So if you’ve taken the SAT maybe
once in the spring, and then you’ve taken it
again in the fall. And you score better on
one section in the fall, we’ll do what’s
called superscoring, and we’ll select the
best section scores from each testing date. Again, every school will do
a little bit differently, but typically we’re doing
what’s in your best interest. And we understand that
taking it again might get some of those jitters out. You might have had a little
more time to prepare. And so usually taking it again
is not going to be a bad thing. MR. BOLL: Got it. So again, students should
look at each school, but it’s typical for schools
to take the best score. MS. LAPMAN: Exactly. MR. BOLL: Got it. That’s excellent
advice for students. So let us quickly go back
to our viewing groups in Gaza and Nablus to
take very last questions, if you have any. AMIDEAST in Gaza, is
there a final question that you would like to ask? GAZA AUDIENCE: In the
financial aid process, what do you base
the information on? For example, do
you know the income that a family gets, or
something like that? So what are the instructions
for the admissions? MR. BOLL: Thank you very much– GAZA AUDIENCE:
For financial aid? MR. BOLL: Thank you
very much, Gaza. So quickly, the question
is about financial aid. What do you base the decision
on in terms of financial aid? Do they look at a
family’s income? Do they– what’s the
kind of information that is asked for in
incorporating financial aid decisions? MS. LAPMAN: Well just like,
you know, about the Common Application on the
admissions side, there are also some
frequently used financial aid applications. Things like the CSS
Profile, which is put out by the College Board. And there’s also an
international student financial aid application. So these are the most frequently
used financial aid applications through which we’re
able to understand a student and a
family’s situation. And yes, through that
we learn about income, we learn about assets. And we learn, really, about the
picture of a family’s ability to pay. And then that allows
us to understand what a family might be eligible for. MR. BOLL: Thank you. So students could
google those forms to see exactly what
questions are asked– MS. LAPMAN: Absolutely. MR. BOLL: –correct? Fantastic. Tamara, any last word
of advice that you would like to give our
viewers, very quickly. MS. LAPMAN: My
advice would really be, there are so many different
options in the United States. I encourage you to
look beyond rankings, look beyond the names of
schools that you know, to find that right fit. And to know that
you’re welcome here. That our campuses
and communities benefit from that the
great diversity of students that we enroll from
all over the world. And so we’re very excited
to keep in touch with you, and for us to learn more about
you as you learn more about us. MR. BOLL: Thank you so much. That message of
welcome is something that we’re seeing from
campuses all over the world. Universities throughout
the United States are sending a very
strong message of welcome through the
#YouAreWelcomeHere campaign. And I know that that’s
something that our advisors, all over the world, are
telling students. That communities in
the United States are welcoming, universities
are, and that they’re committed to international students. Thank you very much for
joining us today Tamara. And of course, thank you to
all our international students, including Min and Nicky. Very special thanks
to our viewing groups joining us from Gaza and Nablus
in the Palestinian territories. We also want to thank
viewing groups gathered around the world
who took part today. You can find more information
about studying in the United States by visiting the
EducationUSA website at 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. Goodbye from Washington.

4 thoughts on “EducationUSA | U.S. College & University Admissions (Nov. 2017)

  1. I am from Bangladesh.
    I am interested in getting my higher education in the USA. It feels great to think like that.
    But, the problem i am gonna face is the financial side. Everything is quite good except the finances. It would be better if you do a video on the financial aids and scholarships. 🙂

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