International Universities: Could They Be The Right Choice For Your Student?

Over the past few years more and more students have been adding schools outside of the US to their college list. A combination of the competitiveness of US schools mixed with a global curiosity has prompted this trend. This doesn’t mean that international schools are easier to gain acceptance from; however, US students add diversity to a student body and that factor can be appealing to admissions teams.

Are more American students matriculating to those international universities?

Even if a student is accepted into an international school, the offer doesn’t necessarily translate into matriculation, but the trend does reflect an open-mindedness about other educational systems that bears mentioning. So, if your student is considering adding non-US colleges or universities, or dual programs such as the one between Trinity College Dublin-Columbia University, to their line-up, here are a few application tips:

Applications Portals for International Universities

Most of my students target schools in the UK and Canada versus American colleges in European countries. This means adding the UCAS and OUAC as well as other proprietary application portals to a student’s To Do list when fulfilling admissions requirements including testing and essays.

Qualifying Admissions Tests

The SAT Subject Tests used to be required for an Ox-Bridge application (the UK’s Oxford University and Cambridge University), but now three or more Advance Placement Tests (APs) have become the Gold Standard. Other UK and Canadian universities don’t have such specific testing requirements so it’s best to double-check — triple-check — to make sure that your student has the academic prerequisites in ample time to tweak high school course loads. NB: an American student can’t apply to both Cambridge and Oxford in the same admissions cycle.


Many British, Canadian and European schools want students to know what course of study they’re embarking on from the moment they set foot on campus so their application must be tailored to that field. This contrasts with many US liberal arts programs. Some students struggle with focusing their interests while discovering the panoply of choices in high school; others see this commitment as exciting. I remind my students that college isn’t forever and that zero-ing in for four years of rigorous work in one area can in fact provide wonderful skill-building and a thrilling depth of knowledge applicable in many career paths.

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