Top Colleges for Foreign Students

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Finally! After complaining that previous rankings don’t take into account the differences for international students (and taking some time to create a ranking of our own), we’ve finally found a ranking specifically for foreign students. Newsweek has come up with a list of its top colleges for international students.

Newsweek‘s top 10 schools for international undergraduates:

1. Mount Holyoke College (women-only school)
2. Yale University
3. Macalester College
4. Princeton University
5. Swarthmore College
6. Grinnell College
7. Brown University
8. Wellesley College
9. Babson College
10. Williams College
(see numbers 11-25 on their website)

The ranking is determined on the basis of the school’s diversity (including percentage of international students), average financial aid for international students, and percentage of spending on student services.

Glossary of Confusing Words: End of Summer Treat

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

dictionary and thesaurusI wanted to do something a little different for the last Glossary post of the summer. We’ve defined a whole lot of words this summer (check the glossary tag to see all of them), and hopefully it has been useful and informative.

But there was one word submitted that we couldn’t define – or rather, for reasons of modesty we avoided defining: the infamous “f word.”

Just because we won’t take a stab at it, though, doesn’t mean we can’t point you to some places that will. So here are some online resources for learning a whole range of slang words, curse words and internet speak.

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#my911: How the Sept. 11 Attacks Changed one Iranian’s Path to a US Education

by Guest Post - Posts (68). Posted Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 9:38 am

As part of VOA’s What’s Your 9/11? project, Sam from Iran shared this story about how the September 11th attacks influenced his plans to study in the U.S. It’s just one of many stories from young people and students around the world about the news events that have shaped a generation. Add yours and join our growing community at http://whatsyour911.com.

Stories of the days that changed young lives

I had just came back home after taking a TOEFL test that I heard the news. I had planned for months to study in an American university. After learning about the news I told to myself they – US embassy – is not going to give me a visa even though i was sure none of those terrorists were Iranians. Yes it had a big negative impact on my education.

In Tehran people held candlelight vigil in the memory of the US victims and signed a book in the Swiss embassy. We were angry at those who carried out that attack. President Khatami, a reformist denounced the attack on the US. We were angry that some arab and perhaps pakistani nationals were celebrating this yet it was Iran who was labeled the axis of evil. This is a general sense of iranians at that time, not just my personal opinion.

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3 Truths and 3 Lies About Studying in New York City

by Guest Post - Posts (68). Posted Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

This post comes from friend-of-the-blog Jose Navarro, who studies at Berkeley College in New York and writes the very good Berkeley College Life blog.  He has been home in Spain for the summer, and shares some of the most common questions people back home have asked him about New York.

Empire State Building

These two months that I have been around here, I have met with a lot of people. It’s funny how many people ask the same questions about New York. This city has so many stereotypes! I’m going to make a [list] with the “Frequently Asked Questions” about the big apple. Some of them make me laugh a lot, some others are actually true! Let’s see what many Spaniards wonder about the city:

Are there celebrities in the street?
I must say that’s the one I get asked the most. Why are people so concerned about celebrities? Well, the answer to this one is YES. I was actually surprised of how ridiculously easy it is to find celebs around the city. To be honest with you, most of the times I recognize them because some of my friends do. At first I never know who they are!

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Building Skills and Friends Through Language Exchange

by Chris Wong - Posts (9). Posted Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 9:34 am

The library at NTU

The library at NTU

This summer I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of months in Taipei, Taiwan studying Mandarin Chinese at the International Chinese Language Program. It was a great experience and probably one my best summers ever – meeting new people, exploring a new place, and really improving my Chinese through intensive study.

Some of my cooler experiences from Taiwan involved language exchanges with local friends. I met with two Taipei residents, Angela and Lynn, separately usually once a week, and we would alternate between English and Mandarin conversation for a couple of hours.

It turns out that language exchange is a pretty common practice at National Taiwan University (NTU), where my language program was located. The language center on campus had tons of flyers from people seeking exchange partners, as did the bulletin board in the lobby of my dormitory (although it was actually a mutual friend who initially introduced me to Angela and Lynn).

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New in the Glossary: Clearing out the Queue

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 8:43 pm

dictionary and thesaurusAs our Glossary of Confusing Words winds down for the summer, I want to take care of all the words and phrases that are still waiting in the queue.  So if your word hasn’t been addressed yet, it will be in this hodgepodge, omnibus (two good words!) post.

1) What’s the correct preposition?

…graduated secondary school vs …graduated FROM secondary school

It is technically correct to use the preposition and say that someone “graduated from” their school.  “I graduated from college in 2008.”

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What’s Your 9/11? Join the Global Community Sharing Life-Changing Stories

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Friday, August 19th, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Stories of the days that changed young lives

Everyone has had in their life that one moment that will be forever imprinted on their memory, and that breaks their personal story into a before and after. For many Americans, including myself, it happened on September 11, 2001.

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we want to gather and share stories of those events and those moments that changed lives all around the world.

We’ve collected experiences from Armenia to Pakistan to Kenya to America about everything from 9/11 to the Salvadoran Civil War. Will you join us in this exciting project and share yours?

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What to Pack for Your First Trip to the United States

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

In anticipation of the start of the new school year, bloggers from across the internet are sharing their tips for coming to the U.S. for the first time, and a lot of them are talking specifically about what to pack in your suitcases:

Here's one thing you definitely shouldn't pack (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user ClintJCL)

Here's one thing you definitely shouldn't pack (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user ClintJCL)

- Make sure you know the weight limit for checked bags on your flight, and stick to it if you don’t want to pay overage charges, says a contributor to Happy Schools Blog.

- Pack the clothes you feel comfortable in, not what you think is in style, said Senzeni based on her experience last year. And bring dressier clothes too, she suggested – you can’t always wear t-shirts and jeans.

- Bring some key things from home that won’t be available in America, said Tara in that same post. For Chinese students she recommended BB Cream and maybe a rice cooker.

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Write for the Student Union!

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Don’t forget, if you currently study in the U.S. or are applying to study in the U.S., we’re looking for new bloggers to join our returning writers for the coming school year.

If you are fluent in English, creative, insightful and not shy about talking about your life (even the embarrassing parts), we want you to apply.  You will come away with a portfolio of professional writing, and we will work closely with you throughout your internship to help perfect your writing and storytelling skills.

You must:

- Have exceptional English writing and speaking skills. Multimedia skills (video, audio, photography) would also be an asset
- Be a current college/university student (or be applying to college/university this year). We’re looking for people from a range of backgrounds, majors and degree levels (grad and PhD students included)
- Be willing to contribute at least once a month when school is in session
- Be able to commit for at least a semester, preferably for the full year

To apply, send your resume, cover letter and a writing sample to jstahl@voanews.com.

Side by Side Comparison: Top 10 Cheapest Colleges for Foreign v US Students

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 at 10:29 am

Screenshot from the Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center

Screenshot from the Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center

The U.S. Department of Education recently launched a great new website, the College Affordability and Transparency Center, designed to help students get information about the cost of an undergraduate college education.

One of the neatest features is a little tool that lets you look at lists of institutions with the highest/lowest tuition and highest/lowest net prices. The net cost lists are particularly interesting – they take into account all the costs of attending university (tuition, fees, housing, books, etc.) and subtract the average amount of aid received in order to find out the true average cost for a student.

But international students beware. That list of net costs only applies to domestic students – and for public colleges, it only applies to in-state or in-district students. Some colleges DO offer a lot of aid to international students, and make an effort to keep the net cost low, but they may not be the same colleges that offer a low net cost to domestic students or state residents.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the top 10 highest and lowest net cost lists you’d get using the college cost tool, and the top 10 for international students, based on our calculations.  You can see right away that the results are quite different for international students.

1) Lowest Net Cost

4-year Private Non-Profit Institutions:

College cost tool Net Cost ($) International students Net Cost ($)
Universidad Teologica del Caribe 82 Berea College* 209
Talmudical Academy – New Jersey 469 Gettysburg College 2972
Colegio Pentecostal Mizpa 1776 Skidmore College 3268
Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary 1876 College of the Atlantic 3790
John Dewey College – University Division 1956 Paine College 3820
Turtle Mountain Community College 2031 Southwestern Christian College 4033
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico – Ponce 2208 Yale University 4449
Southeastern Baptist College 2699 Kentucky Mountain Bible College 5024
Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem of America 2839 Trinity College 6507
Our Lady of Holy Cross College 2874 Wayland Baptist University 6585

 

4-year Public Institutions:

College cost tool Net Cost ($) International students Net Cost ($)
Sitting Bull College 938 Alabama State University 263
Escuela de Artes Plasticas de Puerto Rico 996 Fort Lewis College 6199
South Texas College 1317 University of West Alabama 7386
University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla 1591 Haskell Indian Nations University 7760
University of Texas Pan American 1646 Alabama A&M University 7998
Indian River State College 2138 The Citadel 8243
University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon 2345 South Dakota State University 9474
California State University – Dominguez Hills 2451 University of Science and Arts at Oklahoma 9478
California State University – Los Angeles 3263 Kentucky State University 9991
Elizabeth City State University 3335 Missouri Southern State University 10174

 

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New in the Glossary of Confusing Words: What’s Up

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 9:44 am

dictionary and thesaurusJust to let you all know, the regular Monday Glossary of Confusing Words posts are a summer feature, for while our bloggers are on vacation.  We’ll keep doing it for a couple more weeks and then go on hiatus for a while, so get your words in now.  If we don’t get to your word, we’ll save it up until the next vacation time, I promise.  We’re always willing to do words that are specifically related to applying for college/university though, so keep those coming throughout the school year.

Today’s word: What’s up?

When someone asks you “what’s up?,” they are asking you what’s going on in your life, either in general or at that specific moment.  It’s pretty informal, and not to be used in business situations.

There are two basic ways “what’s up?” is used in conversation:

1) As a very informal pleasantry.  In this case, it would be the equivalent of “what’s new?” or even “how are you?” and is asking whether anything is going on in your life.

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A Plan to Overcome the Challenges (External and Internal): Homayoon’s Story

by Guest Post - Posts (68). Posted Friday, August 12th, 2011 at 9:46 am

A few months ago, Homayoon wrote on our Facebook page:

I think my dream to study in U.S will never, ever become true. I recommend that everyone who wish to study at U.S, He/She must get preparation for a couple of years at least (those who apply for scholarships). This prepration must be especially for writing skill because when you are not a top and excellent English writer, you cannot ...covey and communicate your knowledge and thoughts to others. Therefore, finding and winning a scholarship was and is the greatest challenge for me in my academic life. In my opinion, study in US, is one of the great and great opportunity of life for all those who are currently studying there.

Despite past disappointments, Homayoon says he will try again to achieve a higher TOEFL score and apply for scholarships. He writes in with this explanation of why he hopes to study in the U.S., the challenges he has faced, and what he plans to do differently this time around:

On learning English
Homayoon says his ambition to learn English was kindled early, but the conflicts in Afghanistan got in the way. He moved a lot as a child to escape violence – first from Kabul to Nangarhar during the civil war, back to Kabul during the Taliban regime, then again to Nangarhar to escape the U.S. attacks after 9/11, and finally back to Kabul again for his senior year of high school. Though he has continued studying English when he can, Homayoon says he knows he’s not at the level he could be, or needs to be.

A technician directs an Ariana Afghan airlines Boeing 727-200 before take off at Kabul's airport on January 16, 2002. The first plane took off, made a circle and landed again at Kabul's civilian airport, officially opened on Wednesday, after being renovated by British military engineers. REUTERS/Oleg Popov  OP/CLH/

Ariana airlines (Photo: Reuters)

When the civil war or Mujaheddin war started in Kabul in around 1992 – 3, our family moved back to Nangarhar, which was a little secure than Kabul city. After we managed to restart our normal life there, I had to continue my school. In the eastern provinces in Afghanistan, almost all the residents speak Pashto, so education is taught in the Pashto language. That was a big challenge for a native Dari speaker who was just about 8 or 9 years old.

In seventh grade, I used to watch and play volleyball in the Ariana airline office yard, which was located not so far from our house. Watching the airline’s international pilots play volleyball and speak English with each other, I was inspired and got interested to learn English. It was the starting point for my English learning.

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How Did You Prepare to Apply for Scholarships?

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Thursday, August 11th, 2011 at 10:53 am

This week we’ve been answering questions submitted by Homayoon (see question 1 and question 2). His final question was about scholarships. Homayoon has shared in the past that this has been his greatest struggle when it comes to pursuing a degree in the U.S., saying:

I recommend that everyone who wish to study at U.S, He/She must get preparation for a couple of years at least (those who apply for scholarships). This [preparation] must be especially for writing skill because when you are not a top and excellent English writer, you cannot …covey and communicate your knowledge and thoughts to others. Therefore, finding and winning a scholarship was and is the greatest challenge for me in my academic life.

So he asked us to share experiences about how to get a scholarship.

Can anyone share their experiences about how to get a scholarship? What you have done before start to submit your scholarship application?

In a past post, our bloggers talked about the scholarships they have and how they got them, so make sure to look at “Exploring Financial Aid and Funding Options” to hear some of their personal stories.

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The First Stages of Planning for a US Education

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 10:28 am

Yesterday we shared Homayoon’s first question, which was about the biggest obstacles to studying in the U.S. His second question was:

When you planned to get your Master Degree in U.S, UK, or Australia, How do you planned? What have you done as a first thing?

We’ve actually covered this very topic in a previous post, “First Steps: Deciding to Come to the US is the Easy Part,” which goes through the first steps you should take once you’ve decided to study in America.

[Also check out this previous post, "Recap: Applying to Schools"]

The very first step, according to EducationUSA, is to research your school choices and the tests they require. Our bloggers homed in on that point as well in their advice:

Sebastian Sanchez

The most important thing to do is making informed decisions. Again, I had much help from the organization in my country, but for being able to take decisions I based most of my research on http://www.collegeboard.org/. This is an organization that helps you out by providing a lot of very valuable information, from preparation for the tests to financial aid, going through different colleges costs and rankings to student life and the towns those are based.

[Check out other websites that are useful for researching schools on our Resources page]

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Biggest Obstacles to Studying in America

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 at 10:22 am

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 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 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 US is TOEFL?

Our bloggers responded:

Tara Cheng

The biggest obstacle for me is how to “market” myself in the required essays, like personal statement. 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 persons they would like to get. As to TOEFL, if your score is a little bit lower than school’s requirement, do not worry, school will evaluate your application in an holistic way. Also, they may give you opportunities to take ESL (English as Second Language) classes before your official enrollment.

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The Student Union is…

A place to hear stories about studying in the U.S. Our bloggers have come from all over the world to U.S. universities, and they'll be sharing their experiences, advice and more.

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Tell us about your experiences applying to the US, studying in America, or doing an exchange, and we may include it on the blog.

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Glossary of Confusing Words

Find definitions of confusing words and terms about studying in the U.S. in our Glossary of Confusing Words.

All the words were submitted by YOU, so visit the glossary to see the words that have been defined already and to suggest your own.