By Nick Pipitone
A bachelor’s degree normally requires four years of full-time study in a major field. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree are known as undergraduates. Those who earn this degree are typically more employable and higher-paid than those without one. In 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate for workers with college degrees was more than five percent less than those with only a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
College admission in the U.S. for international students is very competitive. You will need to have a strong academic background and a proficiency in the English language. Each college sets its own admission requirements and they vary greatly with each institution. Most schools will require a minimum of a high school diploma with coursework in science, mathematics, English and humanities. They will also likely require you to take academic entrance exams, and many schools prefer at least a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
Applying for a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. will also take a great deal of preparation, so start your planning early. The deadlines and specific requirements for each institution and program vary widely. Once you have done your research on which schools you would like to attend, visit their websites and, specifically, admissions offices for more information on how to apply. While each institution differs, here are some general you can follow:
1. Credentialing of transcripts
A prerequisite for applying for a U.S. bachelor’s degree program is the completion of secondary school or high school. Institutions will require you to submit your diploma and transcripts as well as any final national exams required in your country. Detailed records of the subjects studied and annual examination results must also be submitted. If the documents are not in English, you must have them translated and submit both the translation and original language documents. Credential evaluation services provide translation services for a fee and can charge anywhere from $50 to $250 per document. Talk with the admission office at the schools where you are applying to determine which credentialing service they may prefer, and what specific guidelines they require.
2. Academic entrance exams
Nearly all U.S. universities require applicants to take standardized tests that are designed to measure a student’s aptitude for further study. Most schools will require you to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which will test your proficiency in English reading and writing. Many schools prefer a score of at least 500 on the TOEFL exam for admission and a score of 600 or better if the student plans to study a field that requires a high level of English proficiency, such as journalism or literature. Visit the TOEFL website for more information about the test.
Most undergraduate programs also require applicants to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or the ACT. Check with the institution you are applying to and their admission requirements to see which test they will require you to take. Both of these tests are standardized, timed multiple-choice tests written in English that require a high level of English proficiency. Visit the SAT and ACT websites for more information on how to take the tests.
3. Essay and letters of recommendation
Most applications will also charge you a fee and require one or more personal essays. The purpose of the essays is to gauge your English writing ability and to learn more about you and why you want to earn your bachelor’s degree. The essay questions will vary from institution to institution. Try to keep your focus narrow and personal in the essay and develop your main idea with specific facts and examples.
Most institutions will ask you for letters of recommendation from your former teachers, as well. It is your responsibility to ask these teachers to write and mail the letters to your college of choice. Remember to read the applications carefully, as some colleges may require the letters come from an academic teacher rather than someone you know outside of the classroom. It is also best to ask a teacher that you have had more recently, as colleges prefer current perspectives on their candidates.
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