Helpful Hints for Responding to Questions About U.S. Education

  • Answer the questions in a generic fashion, not with respect to your institution
  • Be clear and concise in your responses
  • Do not answer questions if you are uncertain of the answer
  • Give additional information if it is warranted, but try not to contradict a fellow tour member's comments



1. The Linden Tour: Who We Are and Why We Are Here

This is often used in the introduction to place our program in context and to show credibility to those who have not worked with us in the past. Please make the following points:

  • We are X number of accredited colleges and universities from all parts of the United States.
  • All of the representatives are full-time based admissions officials at their universities, and are experienced in working with international students.
  • These colleges and universities seek qualified applicants from all over the world to ensure a diverse student body and a richer international experience in education.
  • Recruitment is a regular practice of all colleges and universities in the United States and many actively recruit international students
  • Linden Educational Services organizes recruitment tours for accredited colleges and universities. It does not represent universities on the tour.



2. The U.S. System of Education

The best presentations on U.S. higher education take into account the audience (freshmen, transfer, graduate, American school, local audience, etc.); however, this brief outline provides a good starting point.

  • Over 3,600 colleges and universities in the United States
  • Higher education is decentralized; there is no Ministry of Education
  • Undergraduate level: Two-year junior and community colleges (Associate's degree); and four-year colleges and universities (Bachelor's degree)
  • Basic requirements for undergraduate entry will differ from institution to institution, but all will require:
    • Secondary school completion
    • English language proficiency
    • Adequate financial resources/financial aid
  • Freshmen do not have to declare a major
  • It is possible to change majors
  • It is possible to transfer from one university to another
  • Graduate level: Master's degree (1-2 years); Ph.D.
  • Basic requirements for graduate entry will differ by department and from institution to institution. Each includes:
    • Equivalent of a Bachelor's degree
    • Tests: GRE, GMAT, TOEFL (or other English language proficiency test)
    • Adequate financial resources
  • Professional degree programs, especially medicine, dentistry, law and veterinary medicine, begin AFTER the Bachelor's degree and are very competitive for non-U.S. citizens
  • Non-degree and short-term training programs



3. How to Select a University

Students should be encouraged to consider the following factors and think about an environment that will be comfortable and challenging:

  • Accreditation
  • Field of study
  • Location
  • Size
  • Public vs. private
  • Two-year vs. four-year
  • Costs and financial aid
  • Selectivity
  • Support services
  • Number of international students
  • Housing
  • Extracurricular activities



4. Submitting a Winning Application

Students really want to know how to complete an application that will get them accepted, so we usually divide the talk into the following areas:

A complete application includes:

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • Official records of previous education (transcripts)
  • Evidence of English language proficiency
  • Results of standardized tests, if required
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Statement of financial resources


A winning application:

  • Is complete
  • Is neat and legible
  • Respects deadline dates
  • Reflects the academic and personal qualities of the applicant
  • Seeks programs and majors offered by the college/university
  • Shows the university that it has been carefully selected for application



5. Life on Campus

This presentation is usually given to seniors who will be coming to the U.S. or to a group of students to help them understand U.S. campus life. You will want to cover the following areas:

  • Academic life
  • Housing
  • International student advising
  • Student organizations
  • Clothing
  • Staying in touch with home
  • Extracurricular activities



6. Frequently Asked Questions by Students and Counselors


  • What are the top universities?
  • Do universities have a quota for international students?
  • Is your university recognized in this country?
  • What are the minimum qualifications for admission to your university?
  • Can students fax or e-mail their applications?
  • What can be done if a student does not get a satisfactory reason for rejection?
  • What type of extracurricular activities do universities look for?
  • How important are letters of recommendation?
  • Should advisers "allow" students to apply to schools they believe are out of the student's range?


International Student Applications

  • What happens when an international student application is received at your university?
  • What is different about international student applications (from domestic applications)?
  • How do admissions officers deal with foreign transcripts?
  • How are placement recommendations enveloped?
  • Why is an original transcript so important to U.S. universities?
  • Should students have their transcripts translated?
  • A student has dual citizenship. S/He wants to apply as an American for residency and financial aid considerations. Which application should s/he file? Must s/he still take the TOEFL?



  • If a student does not have a TOEFL, GRE, or GMAT score, will his/her application still be considered?
  • Are English proficiency exams used as admission criteria?
  • What is meant by conditional admission? For which students does it work well?
  • Can the student sit for exams after the application deadline date?
  • Do you require the SAT for international students? For transfer students?


Costs and Financial Assistance

  • Are tuition and fees different for international and domestic students?
  • Some families do not keep their money in banks. What documentation is adequate to show financial support without bank letters?
  • Do you offer financial assistance? What are the requirements?
  • How do you help students find financial assistance?
  • Is there an advantage to waiting until a student is admitted before asking for financial assistance?


Working and Other Visa Matters

  • What kind of jobs can students get and how much do they pay?
  • If a student is rejected for a visa, may s/he try again?



7. Frequently Asked Questions About the Transfer Process

  • Can you recommend specific documents an undergraduate can submit to assist in the transfer credit decision-making process?
  • What courses in a foreign curriculum generally do not transfer to U. S. universities?
  • Why do some universities transfer freshman English and others do not?
  • What is the difference between some transfer credit awarded toward a degree and credit awarded toward a major?
  • Please give guidelines/criteria for awarding advance standing for "A" levels, Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM), etc.
  • How many credits can a student with a diploma from X college expect to receive?
  • Although transfer students only need about two years to complete their bachelor's degree, universities still require four years of financial support during the application process. Why?
  • Do you award credit for Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and College Level Examination Programs (CLEP) exams? How much?



8. Current Trends on Campus

  • What were admissions like at your school this fall for U. S. students?
  • Did schools have to go to their waiting lists?
  • What are the current demographic changes in the U. S. college age population? How do they affect international students?
  • What fields of study are popular
  • What are the "hot" issues at NAFSA: Association of International Educators?