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How Counselors Can Help International Families Prepare for College

Prepare for college

For many international students, the road to an American university begins with attending high school in the U.S. But impressive grades and a stellar list of activities often aren’t enough to gain admission to the country’s best colleges. To better prepare for college, international students and their families should enlist the help of counselors.

When seeking college guidance, you can choose to work with a counselor within your child’s school or look to a counselor or placement consultant from a different organization. Either option will provide helpful advice and resources. Here are a few reasons why you should partner with a counselor when preparing for college.

Counselors help your child navigate the often-confusing college application process.

SAT or ACT? Early Action or Early Decision? Sometimes, the college application process can feel like an overwhelming amount of deadlines, buzzwords, and requirements. Counselors are experts who can help families and students register for standardized tests, compile portfolios, request letters of recommendation, and ensure applications are submitted on time.

Counselors are skilled at finding relevant scholarships and financial aid.

It’s no secret college has never been more expensive. What often goes unreported, though, are the many cost-saving opportunities available, especially for international students. International families often know a great deal about the top-rated U.S. colleges, but less about the other excellent options. Because of this, families sometimes miss out on those schools’ scholarships and programs geared toward helping international students. 

A counselor can make students aware of these other colleges and universities. By working with a counselor, students and their families will better understand their options and enter the admission process with a better sense of the market.

Counselors can connect students with cocurricular opportunities.

The best colleges aren’t only interested in grades and scores. Competitive schools are looking for students who add value to their campus—they want interesting people. For high school students, that means involvement in their school and a demonstrated commitment to activities outside the classroom. 

School-based counselors are familiar with their school’s culture and know the many cocurricular opportunities that are available. They can point students toward clubs and activities suited to their unique interests. More importantly, participating in cocurriculars and passion projects enables students to get the most from their school community and experience. Counselors are responsible for a crucial component of a student’s application: the main recommendation.

Students might ask their favorite teachers for glowing recommendations, but colleges ask counselors to write about their students. Counselors are limited in that they can only write recommendations based on the interactions they’ve had with each student. With that in mind, encourage your student to develop a relationship with their assigned counselor early in their junior and senior years. The more counselors know about their students, the more their recommendations are authentic.

Outside consultants and counselors are not on campus every day, but they’re just as invested in student success. The college process is a long one, so it’s best to rely on their professional help. The sooner students can connect with counselors, the better prepared they’ll be for college and beyond.

When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

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