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Monday, August 11, 2014
College Admissions Help for International Students
Try for a minute to imagine what the college application process must be like for students without home-court advantage. I mean, sure, we now have the internet. Anyone with a computer and a command of basic English can Google the University of Texas and click on the "admissions" tab. Then follow the instructions.
But how, as a foreign student, do you really know anything about UT or Texas or Harvard or anywhere else without the benefit of actual cultural insight? When I was in high school, there was an unspoken sense of who could get into the Ivies, who was going to community college, and who wasn't. The anecdotes from teachers, parents, or friends-of-friends who'd already had those experiences-that was what we built our understanding of college upon.
At the very least, an American student can ask their guidance counselor for some direction. So what does a Chinese or Croatian student do? In countries like China, which has seen a dramatic increase in emigrating students over the past decade, there has been a boon in the college consulting industry. The problem there, and in other countries with even less access to information, is the overall knowledge of foreign consultants. After all, who knows the American system better than, well, insiders?
Enter start-ups like College Node, an internet-based company designed to work as a medium between international students and crucial contacts here in the U.S. College Node helps to connect foreign students with American students, college consultants and even teachers. Like any consulting agency, it's a for-profit venture, and it is still in its infancy. Still, it is a viable option for foreign students looking to lift the veil on the process.
While there is no substitute for strong academic performance, navigating the system and process of U.S. college admissions is no easy task. Let's hope technology continues to help foreign students bridge the knowledge gap.
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