Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Complementary guide for International Students

By Luis Lei,

Are you from Kenya, or Korea, or maybe Singapore? (Sorry if you are not from any of those countries.  I can’t list the 150 Nations represented at LaGuardia!) Are you still struggling to get used to the oil dripping, gut wrenching NYC pizza? If so, you have come to the right place!
Before I start though, you should know that this article does not intend to be a conprehensive transfer process guide. It rather complements the guide listed below by adding key advices for international students. So do take some time to check it out before reading further:
-          The ultimate guide to the transfer Process by Luis Feliz: These 11 tips are a very solid foundation. Interesting fact: He was admitted into 12 of the 15 schools he applied to, including Amherst College and Brown University.
And now that you read all that, you should have also realized that some of the things Luis Feliz talks about do not apply to us. For instance, we do not qualify for Federal Financial Aid. Furthermore,we have to be careful to stay in-status, taking care of our perpetually expiring I-20s.  So let’s take a look at what else you should pay extra attention to.
1—  Start even EARLIER: Unless you finished High School in the United States or got a GED here, you will have to contact your beloved High School in your native contry. Remember that you have to get your transcript translated to English and mailed from the high school to all the Colleges you are applying to.  Depending on the Colleges you are applying to, you may also have to get International Student Supplement, and the High School Final Report filled and sent by your High School. That means a lot of old-fashioned long distance mailing, language barriers, translation fees, missing or incorrectly filled documents, etc. So start earlier, way earlier. To give you an idea, the usual deadlines for Fall transfer application are between March 1st and April 1st. I contacted my High School in October, which gave me a window of 5 months. Why do I need so much time? Well, my high school’s Summer Vacation is between Dec. and Feb.(Southern Hemisphere), so it is closed during that time. If I had contacted them on Feb., it would have been too late. The tragic thing is that I hadn’t even realized they would be closed, so I was lucky to have contacted them wayyyy earlier, in October.
2—  Affordability: Make sure the colleges you apply to offer Financial Aid to “INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER STUDENTS(From now on ITS).” This is important; some colleges only aid international students who are applying straight from High School, as freshmen. If the website is not clear, call them up and ask. Even if a College does offer aid to ITS, it is not “need blind.” If their alloted money for ITS runs out (which is not a lot in most cases) and they can’t offer you all the aid you need, they will not admit you even if you are qualified according to their standards. Even though our chances are smaller, keep in mind that an outstanding application can always make the difference. Aim for excellence.
3—  Go for those Scholarships: There is nothing as crucial as this, for many reasons. First, we are not eligible for federal financial aid, and we can’t take out loans without a US. Citizen cosigning as a guarantor. Scholarships could be essential to afford the cost of our dreamed education. Secondly, if you happen to be awarded a prestigious scholarship, you will be a prized target for many colleges. Just think about it: you have proved yourself to be a brilliant student before even sending an application, and you are also someone who will not drain resources from their coffers. This is not scientific, but I would say your chances of being admitted could be improved ten fold. A few scholarships you may want to aim for: Kaplan, Jack Kent Cooke, All USA. Mind you, these are all super competitive, and if you don’t get it, do not despair. (as a matter of fact, I did not get any of those and still managed to get into my top choice.)
4—  Have a Plan B: We all know that things seldom go according to plan. So always try to have a backup. It helped me a lot emotionally to know exactly how to proceed in case of utter disaster. I also took the advice of my philosophy professor, Dr. John Chaffee, to always keep the big picture in mind. After all, this is just a small portion of what is to come; a life in which success or failure are far from being cast in stone by this episode. And remember, in two years, when you are applying for grad school, you will have the chance to try again!
Some other articles about transfer you should read:
-          Letter from Sihyun Kim. Interesting fact: After graduating summa cum laude from Cornell, he is now attends University of Chicago Law School.
-          My Transfer Experience” by Andrea Gombor. Interesting fact: Contrary to common procedure, Andrea applied to only 1 school, and got in with a full scholarship.
-          Personal Transfer Essay by Sasheen Pottinger.  Interesting fact: Former president of Alpha Theta Phi, she now attends Cornell in Ithaca.
Well, that is it. I bid you farewell, and wish you the best of luck.


  1. summa cum laude from cornell, is that your gpa has to be more than 4.00?

  2. Hi Rafi. 4.0 is the highest GPA you can get. Here you can find a suitable answer.

    siju: You are welcome. Remember to share.

  3. Ok, but in cornell you can get A+ which is 4.3!!!


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