The 3 Most Confusing issues faced by International Grad School Applicants

When international students are getting enrolled in American Grad Schools, three questions repeatedly come up during the application process.

Students want to know how to tell if their undergraduate degrees from institutions in their home countries were equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree. Another common question that comes up is how they could convert a GPA to the 4.0 scale commonly used in the U.S.

Students also express concerns about how they should approach the standardized test required for the graduate program to which they were applying.

Below are answers to these common application questions from prospective international graduate students.

1. The question of academic equivalency: If you received your bachelor's degree outside the United States, an evaluation will be performed by the admissions office to confirm that you have earned the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. This evaluation may be required before or after you apply depending upon the admission requirements of a specific program. Clear guidelines about what constitutes academic equivalency are provided in the application section of a program's admissions website.

If you don’t match every criterion perfectly, but overall you do believe your profile is a match – you could consider letting the admissions staff know you believe you have an extenuating circumstance that merits special consideration.

For example, if the institution to which you are applying requires four years of college work following high school and you have a three-year degree, but took additional course work, conducted additional research and received high academic honors, you might consider asking for your situation to be given special consideration.
Put your request in writing as a short inquiry, but include all the facts,and offer to provide any additional information, and make it clear that you will abide by the decision.Arguing about an equivalency determination you believe is unfair or does not take into account your particular situation will only make matters worse by drawing negative attention to you.

2. The question of GPA conversion to a U.S. scale:  Each admissions office has a procedure for "converting" an academic record from an international college or university into the equivalent GPA at the graduate school to which applications are being submitted.The procedure for doing this is never altered or changed: No exceptions are made. However, to ensure that your GPA will be accurately converted, make sure to send transcripts for all your undergraduate work with your application. If you took course work at two other institutions before enrolling at the institution from which you received your bachelor's degree, you should submit three transcripts in total.

Do not provide your own GPA calculation.

3. The question of Submitting multiple test scores:  All applicants, including international students, will have to submit standardized test scores;  depending on the program to which you are applying, you will take the GREGMATLSAT or Medical College Admission Test, known as the MCAT and then submit your scores along with your application papers.

In general, taking the test a couple of times indicates that you are making every effort to provide the best application you can; however, taking it more than three times looks desperate, and does not create a favorable impression.

The admissions committee will evaluate your application in its entirety and will not place undue emphasis on your test scores, because most institutions find that test scores alone do not predict success as a graduate school student.

Communication skills, motivation, initiative, hard work and working well with others – along with academic ability – are considrered much better predictors of success.