International Students



Students intending to study in the United States need to plan early and to use the Internet to conduct much of their business. There are four avenues of approach to education in the United States.

  1. The first is to procure a visa from the local embassy or consulate near your home. You should begin this process at least 120 days before your intended departure for the U. S. To begin your quest, to

  2. The second avenue leads to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Student Exchange and Visitor Program [SEVIS]. The website for SEVIS is

  3. The third avenue leads toward the testing process required by U.S. colleges and universities. Students whose native language or language of instruction in school is NOT English should take the Test of English as a Foreign Language [TOEFL]. By looking on- line under, students can not only register for the test in their home country, but view sample tests, questions, and read about preparing for the test. Some U.S. schools may accept a the International English Language Testing System [test], available at Others may permit you to take the PTE, the Pearson Test of English. More information at

  4. The fourth avenue should lead you to one of the Education USA centers run by the U. S. State Department. These centers offer guidance to students desiring to study in the U. S. and help them to identify higher education opportunities [majors and programs] that are suited to their interests and needs. Visit

Once students start looking for American colleges and universities, they can find useful information at the Petersons web site: This site will describe the various schools and pay particular attention to the facilities for taking English as a Second Language [ESL] courses at them. It also describes the programs for international students at US colleges and universities. In reviewing this information, students should note the resources that will be available to them as well as the international student environment they will be entering. Here are some relevant questions:

  • How large is the international student community at the college or university you are considering? What percentage of the total undergraduate population is international? How many different countries are represented in the international community?

  • Is there an International Student Office, a director of international student affairs and other counselors to advise and support international students? Is there a newsletter for international students?

  • Does the college or university offer English as a Second Language [ESL]?

  • Does the college offer programs that celebrate international student contributions to the school? Does it offer travel programs that will enable students from abroad to visit the region and other points of interest in the United States?

  • What arrangements does the college or university make for international students during school holidays? Are there summer employment opportunities available?

International Students thinking about studying in America should be sure to take a challenging course load in their home schools. They should pursue the International Baccalaureate program if it is offered. In addition they should take national exams when offered. In addition students should plan to take the Scholastic Assessment Test [SAT] and at least two Subject Tests if they are going to apply to the very selective colleges and universities in the U. S. Developing a two year plan to take the various tests required is a good idea. Test results all need to arrive at U. S. schools by February 1st of the year in which September admission is sought.

In this connection they should schedule an interview with the school official who will write their recommendation and request that he or she make sure to explain course work and exams in terms that are familiar to US admission officials. School and national norms for test results are very helpful to U. S. admissions officers in evaluating your results. Ask the school official to include contact information such as an e-mail address so that US admission officers can make contact if questions arise.

Once students are admitted to a college or university in the United States, they will receive a certification from SEVIS that they will be attending a particular college or university. That document needs to be presented to the US Immigration Service, on entering the country, along with a visa. International Students will need to renew each of these documents every year that they study in the United States. The international students office at their college or university can be very helpful in helping them do that.

One final piece of advice: international students should always use their full legal name in applying to U. S. colleges and universities and in requesting testing information or applying for visas. Using your full legal name will avoid confusion with others. Once in the United States your individuality will be recognized in all probability, with a knick name bestowed on you by the new friends you will meet.