1. Be confident: global citizens are in demand
Each year, university admissions teams hit the road to meet the next generation of student applicants. In recent years, the travel requests for these teams have changed dramatically as international schools have started to attract attention. As the middle classes around the world have burgeoned, international schools are now serving more local students. The schools’ students therefore understand diversity and a sense of “blending ideas” from a young age. This has increased their appeal for many universities, which have increased their efforts to promote global understanding on campus.
2. Get informed
Students living in a different country from their preferred university generally have to work a little harder to get the information they need to make good college decisions. While not the same as a visit to campus, if you are an overseas student you should consider taking virtual tours of places that interest you. Take colleges up on any offers to chat from afar with current students. Ask recent graduates in your community about their experience. And, of course, no matter what timezone you are in, the university website is one of the quickest and most reliable sources of information — check out the admissions page and read the news page to see what people are talking about on campus.
3. Spell out unusual curriculums
In general, colleges are much more familiar with international curriculums than they were even a decade ago. But if you have followed a unique curriculum, the school profile — typically provided by your high school through the college application platform — becomes a key piece of information for colleges. These profiles should describe the curriculum rigour and grading scale in more detail. Such details set the context — and college application readers are looking for as much context as they can find.
4. Highlight difference
While the rigour of classes and grades earned will be weighted heavily in the application process, it is important to remember that colleges are also looking for students who are going to add to their community. International student applicants should celebrate their academic setting. If a student attends a high school where diversity and global cultures are celebrated, the values they learn there should be reflected in their application. By telling thoughtful stories about celebrating differences and by demonstrating participation in that community, students can show universities how well prepared they are for a new community that is also working to promote global understanding.
Amy W Jarich is assistant vice-chancellor and director of admissions at the University of California, Berkeley
Photograph: Getty Images