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How to Differentiate Yourself as an International Student

As an international student, your application will already be distinct from other students applying domestically to top universities. If you did not go to school in the States, UK or one of the EU countries, where most of the top universities are located then your schooling, activities and many aspects of your life will likely be very different than those of the average domestic teen. However, the most common mistake you can make as an international student applicant is simply relying on being an international student as the main thing that will set you apart from the competition. In order to stand out to any Admissions Officer, you must not make this assumption and rely too heavily on the fact that you are an international student rather than a unique individual. Admissions Officers read dozens of applications a day; it’s going to take more than that to leave a lasting impression.

For international students, the basic rules of College Essay writing still apply. You should write about something personal that only you could write about. It should showcase who you are and how you navigate the world. The essay should speak to your personality as an individual and give a sense of your personality to the admissions team. The essay is a place where you can give the admissions team information about yourself that is nowhere else in the application and present yourself creatively.

Most international students do not consider that they also have to distinguish themselves when they write their college essays. Although an international student application will naturally be different than any domestic application, international students must still distinguish themselves from other international students when writing their college essays. It is not enough to rely on the basic facts of growing up outside of the US, UK or EU because there are many other international applicants that can speak to the same thing and experience. The question you should be asking yourself is how is your life so different or unique from domestic and international students alike? What is your authentic experience?

In your essay, you should tell the admissions team about where you came from and what it was like to grow up there for you. Did you live in a remote place with your whole family in walking distance? How does this impact your outlook on family values and relationships? How does it impact your mentality about distances, travel and infrastructure in today’s modernity? Did you grow up with specific cultural foods in your household? How does food reflect the way you were raised, how you feel about the importance of food and food cultures in relation to relationships and traditions as well as how this specific dish might spark memory. Further, what might be some common misconceptions about your home and how do these differing perceptions impact you?

Bear in mind, the ultimate goal is to have an admissions officer read your essay and remember you. Think about what makes you distinct from both domestic and international students as well as perhaps international students that are also applying from your same country. Showcase what makes your experience, your own!

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