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USA college admission process *further background in first posting*

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hope I'm in the right section (mods feel free to move it if it isn't)

I'm curious how the USA college admission process works and how far back do they into your school records do they go? does the application process differ for foreign students?

I'm currently in Australia but the family will be immigrating to the USA next year. My eldest is currently in year 11 here. By the time he has to start applying to colleges in the USA (he's look at colleges in Texas and California), he will only have 6-12 (maybe 18 depending on what year level places him in) worth of records from the USA schools. Will this be enough?  (I can provide all school records all the way back to primary school)

Curious Cat:
I graduated HS in the late 90s- as far as I recall colleges wanted my SAT (standardized test) scores, my high school records/grades a personal essay and a "resume" of my extracurricular activities. I imagine it would have been similar for a foreign student possibly with the essay focusing on why they wanted to go to school overseas/copies of their version of the SAT

They take your high school transcript only.  You have to take a standardized test, either the SAT or the ACT.  Most schools have minimum scores that they will accept.  You can also take SAT Subject tests which will allow you to test out of the intro level core curriculum classes like math, english, or a foreign language.  Students can also take Advanced Placement classes and/or Advanced Placement tests which do the same thing as the SAT subject tests.  However, not all school districts offer advanced placement classes.  There is also an application to fill out and an essay as well.  Some schools give writing prompts for the essays, others give the students free reign.

Those are the basics, there are also things like extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc that schools take into consideration.

Each school has a complicated formula to determine how much to weight various aspects of the application, and they're all very secretive about what that formula is  ::)  They'll announce each year what the average GPA and test scores were for that year's freshman class, but not a whole lot else.  Things that get considered (in varying amounts depending on the school):

- grades
- test scores (SAT or ACT)
- extra-curricular activities such as sports, student clubs, volunteering, religious activities, music, etc.
- race and/or ethnic origin
- city/state the student is from
- 1-5 required essays on a variety of topics (proves the student can write & present an argument)

In addition, at least at the school I worked in the admissions office for, there were other considerations that sometimes came into play:

- sometimes an athletic coach would strongly encourage the admissions office to accept a student they wanted to recruit for their team (it still wasn't automatic, but those athletes got a bit more leeway about things like test scores)
- foreign students from non-English-speaking countries had to submit a TOEFL score (test of English as a foreign language)
- foreign students also had to demonstrate they were able to pay, since US financial aid mostly didn't apply for them (although my school did offer scholarships and financial aid to foreign students, which is very unusual)
- if the student had something truly outstanding on their resume (competed in the Olympics, made their first million by age 16, invented a new portable water filter that's now being rolled out in Africa, etc.)
- if the student's family was really, really rich and likely to have any buildings on campus named after them in the near future
- if two students are twins (or triplets), my school tried to lean toward not splitting them.  So if one was great and one was kind of on the fence, they'd both get in - but if one was average and one wasn't that great, they'd both get rejected.

So they throw all that together, stick it in a formula, and come up with a freshman class list.  This is entirely separate from whether the student's family could actually pay for college (at least for US students); the accepted list went on to the financial aid office and students applied separately for that.

I work in transfer admissions. The following information is specific to my school, a public state university.

If you are applying to a US university as a incoming freshman (so no or very little college credit) from an international high school, you will need to have your high school transcript sent to one of the foreign transcript translating services. It will cost around $300 US to have the translation done and sent to the school you are applying to. You will need to take the SAT or ACT and have those test scores sent.

In many cases, with international students, you will need to apply one year in advance and supply all relevant documentation before your application will be processed.


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