5 Application Tips for International College Transfer Students
These students have the advantage of a more refined idea of their academic goals.
International students may apply to U.S. universities either as first-year students, or as a transfer students.
International students looking to transfer are normally attending university in their home countries and are beginning to consider studying in the U.S.. Others may have gone to U.S. community colleges and now wish to continue onto a four-year degree. One of the many reasons international students often pursue the transfer option is that their academic interests have developed and they seek to fulfill a higher academic ambition.
When I discovered a passion for international affairs while at my community college, I applied to transfer to Tufts University to continue my undergraduate education.
In general, transfer applications will have the same requirements for all applicants, domestic and international. Unlike a freshman application or a transfer application from a domestic student, international transfer students face the challenge of demonstrating that they have thought about academic interests beyond the offerings in their country, and show a level of language proficiency and inner maturity that prove them capable of handling rigorous course work.
The secret of putting together a great international transfer application is to give it your own voice.
1. Main essay: Since you know your academic ambitions, portray confidence explaining why you wish to study a particular field. Try not to use this space to praise the experience of studying at an American university in general. You want to focus on your own reasons for wanting to study at that school.
Aim to give this essay a subtle personal spin related to your experiences as an international student and as a college student. In other words, your writing needs to reflect your aims within your chosen academic field, in addition to accentuating how you became passionate about it.
2. Extracurricular activities: It is tempting to include every activity you’ve done in the past in this section. However, in this case, quality supplants quantity.
Reflect on the obstacles you have encountered on the road to your achievements at home. You want to highlight your experiences and qualifications in a manner that will stand out from a pool of whole countries and or even continents, such as applicants from China or South America. The extracurricular page is a reflection of your goals. List the activities that are meaningful to you that also reflect the field of study you want to continue to pursue.
3. Testing: International transfer students will likely have to submit scores for standardized testing as part of their transfer application, unless specified otherwise. Standardized testing includes aptitude tests like the SAT and the ACT, in addition to English proficiency exams. If you are an international student who has begun college in the U.S.and earned an associate degree or some level of college credit, it is possible that you may be exempt, but be certain about which tests are required and whether you are required to submit them.
4. Recommendation letters: Recommendation letters are written endorsements by your professors, academic deans or work supervisors who will speak about you. International students from countries where the main language isn’t English might need to procure and afford translation services before sending them to admission offices.
Translation is usually required for transcripts and financial aid documents. Check with colleges if they will require official, unofficial or no translation at all. If translations are required, international students will need to allow time – usually at least two months before the submission deadline – to have these documents properly translated into English.
5. College-specific essays: College-specific essays require the applicant to convey why he or she will be an asset to that one college or university. In here, international transfer students should focus on how the specific university is the place where you want to further your studies.
At my community college, a professor advised me to write my college-essays focusing on the “what, how and with who?” That is, target what you want to study, which are the research and initiatives that interest you at that college and who the professors or people are that spark your desire to study there.
For Tufts, I specifically noted the name of a professor of international integration, while explaining why her research interested me, concluding that Tufts was the ideal place – in the whole world – for me to fulfill my academic desires.
The college-specific essays are a window through which international transfer students demonstrate the level of maturity, preparedness and proactivity they are willing to dedicate to the student body. Do heavy research about the school and their vision, and if you are honest about pursuing your studies there, your passion will shine through.
The transfer application process is the same for every applicant – domestic or international. Therefore, you must let your life as an international student speak. The most overarching thing to emphasize is that you are unsatisfied with the opportunities offered in your current university, and, if applicable, in other universities of your country.
Expound how the roads you’ve taken at your current university do not fulfill your academic needs anymore, and show via your research that your target school has superior opportunities in your field of study. Talk about the reasons your target university that appeals to you – the academic, social, artistic or research-oriented aspects. And remember: Always be honest about whom you are and what you want to study.