Our friend Homayoon has told us in the past that he hopes to study in the U.S. but worries “my dream to study in the U.S will never, ever become true.” But, far from giving up, Homayoon was in touch recently to ask a few questions, which are worth sharing because they’re probably fairly common. Our bloggers have some thorough answers for him, which we’ll post over the course of this week, and we’ll finish by sharing Homayoon’s own story about his quest to study in America.
Homayoon asked: ‘I plan to get MBA. I have taken TOEFL a couple of years ago but I got only 510 which was not enough than I was expected. I want to take it again, in coming October. Is the only obstacle to study in the US is TOEFL?’
Our bloggers responded:
The biggest obstacle for me is how to “market” myself in the required essays, like personal statements. You gotta be sort of aggressive in the writing because you need to get attention from the admission officer, but you can not be over-aggressive or brag. The balance is a little bit difficult. Plus you do not know what type of person they would like to get. As to TOEFL, if your score is a little bit lower than the school’s requirement, do not worry, the school will evaluate your application in a holistic way. Also, they may give you opportunities to take ESL (English as Second Language) classes before your official enrollment.
I would say the biggest obstacle for me was starting the process itself, getting to understand how all the bureaucratic businesses worked, and getting all the required paperwork. Translations, tests (including SATs and TOEFL), and others were the longest and most annoying part of applying. But luckily, there are English teaching organizations in my country that help people with those bureaucracies, hopefully, you can find one of those institutions in your country too, believe, they are a big help.
Anna is from Russia and currently studies at Mount Holyoke College
When I decided to apply to American schools, I knew I could only afford to study in the US if I was awarded financial aid almost equal to the cost of attendance. So the challenge was to find schools that offer need-based financial aid to international students, then narrow the list down to schools that offer need-based financial aid to international transfer students (there are much fewer such schools), and then select the ones that have the best combination of academic reputation, choice of courses in my major field, research opportunities, and location.
The biggest obstacle for me was going through all the dull and dreary paperwork. I had the advantage of knowing exactly where I wanted to study, in which specific program and the application process for that was relatively easy, as was the admission, so what remained was getting all the bureaucratic things in order. Pay attention to them, they are very important. More important, though, is to get a sense of what it is you want to study and where. Have you looked into all possible places? Have you tried checking out colleges that offer very general education so that, for one or two years, you get an idea of what a Western education is like before you decide on something in particular? Once you get to the States, your impressions, motivations, and intentions may change.
I got the opportunity to study in the US through YES (Youth Exchange and Study) program. This program gives one year of a full scholarship for highly selected students. When I heard about this program, first I talked with my family and asked them for their permission. My parents highly supported me to apply for this program. It was a challenge to get in because only 40 students both boys and girls were selected among 3000 students. Therefore, I had to pass about two tests and an interview. Fortunately, I did. The second thing that was a big obstacle especially for my family was my host family. I didn’t know who will be my host family, that is why both my family and I were worried and we were hoping that they will be nice people. I was lucky that I found a really nice host family, and this problem was solved. (VOA/JC)