I attended school abroad and knew, all along, that I wanted to study at a university in the United States. When I finally received my university’s letter of acceptance 3 months later, I was ecstatic! But the emotions that settled in after that were confusing: I was going to leave my family and live alone in a foreign place; I was going to say goodbye to my friends; I would have to adapt to a new culture and speak English every day. I was happy, yes, but I also felt this emptiness in my heart because I was not going to live at home anymore.
I know first-hand how scary the university admission process can be. Although decisions for UCLA have not yet been released (they will be released in late March for freshman applicants), here are a few things I learned from my experience that can help in your transition as an international student:
- Check and read your emails: Almost all information that is shared from our admission office is done electronically. Between now and decision release, we may request more information or provide other announcements. Make sure our emails are not going to your spam box, and that you are reading what we send to you carefully. Some emails may be time-sensitive so make sure you read our messages thoroughly.
- Understand what documents are needed. UCLA does not request letters of recommendation or transcripts at the time of application. There are some exceptions if you are applying to our School of Theater, Film & Television, School of Arts & Architecture, School of Music and our School of Nursing, but for the most part, our decisions are based on information you have provided in your application You or your school do not need to mail or email us any documents unless we request it directly from you. We understand that you are a stellar applicant and you want to mail us all your certificates or email us all your projects; trust that you have done a great job in completing the University of California (UC) application and allow us to carefully read through it.
- Send your official test scores. If you have not done so by now, you must send your official SAT or ACT and if required, TOEFL or IELTS scores to us. Official scores are sent directly from the testing agency to us. Paper copies or copies that are transmitted outside of the testing agencies are not considered official scores. And remember: if you have applied to more than one UC campus, send your score to one of our campuses and we will share it with the rest of the campuses to which you applied. The only exception is the IELTS exam; you will need to send it to each individual campus.If your name on your UC application is different from the name you used on your tests, please let us know! We want to make sure your scores are matched correctly to your UC application.
- Applying for a Student Visa. As an international (non-U.S.) student, you are required to obtain a student visa in order to study in the United States. All universities will ask students to provide proof of financial support (in the form of bank statements, financial documents, etc.), and the amount of this proof will vary by university. Once a proof of financial support is received and verified, the university will mail/issue you a Form I-20. This document makes you eligible to apply for a U.S. student visa (typically an F-1 visa), and you will use data in this document to schedule your visa appointment at your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy.At UCLA, once you are admitted and decide to commit to us, you will receive instructions on how to submit your proof of financial support from our Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars. You do not need to send any of these documents to us until after you decide to commit to UCLA. Don’t worry, our Dashew Center will give you details and guidance on how to apply for a student visa.
- Don’t contract “senioritis”. Your final year of high school is also known in the U.S. as your senior year. Just because you are done with university applications does not mean it is time to party! If you are admitted to UCLA, we will still require you to perform at the same level (or better) as when you applied to us. We do check your final year grades so make sure you continue to do well.
Waiting for decisions is a very exciting yet nervous time for everyone. And as an international student, you certainly need extra time to make sure documents and other things are done properly. We completely understand, and have consciously built in enough time in between decision release and start of school to allow you to do all of that. In the meantime, keep these 5 tips in mind as you hear back from all your universities (and from UCLA). And once you receive your decisions, don’t forget to congratulate yourself on all the hard work you have put in!