International Students

Holistic Admission Practices

There is no national standard for admission, no national university admission test, and in fact no national curriculum on which to test students. US colleges and universities each approach admissions differently, although nearly every institution practices a holistic reading and evaluation process. That means, while admissions offices focus primarily on a student’s academic success and fit for a particular program, they also examine many, if not all, of the following:

  • Transcripts (both the grades earned and rigor of the courses)
  • Standardized test scores (SAT/ACT/TOEFL)
  • Student essay(s)
  • Recommendation (reference) letters from teachers and counselor
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Significant achievement in one or more of the following special areas: music, art, athletics, leadership, service
  • Summer work experience
  • Diversity the student will bring to the university’s community
  • Ability to pay the full cost of attendance
  • Legacy (a relative attended and graduated from that university)
  • Demonstrated interest

Points to keep in mind

  • US Colleges and universities mandate that students should be in charge of their own process, and they look very unfavorably on students using “agents” or “independent counselors” who complete the applications and even, on occasion, write essays for the students. This practice is considered cheating by US schools and may result in a student not being admitted.
  • There are more than 2,500 four year colleges and universities in the US.
  • Of these 2,500, easily 500 provide students with an excellent education.
  • In the US, “college” and “university” are used interchangeably; one is not inherently better than the other.
  • The “top” (meaning most popular and famous) schools receive tens of thousands of applications from highly qualified students each year and admit only a small percent of them.
  • There is no national or official ranking of universities in the US; most rankings in the media are based more on how “popular” and “famous” a school is, not the academic excellence of that school.

 Applying Information for International Students

  • “International” may mean different things at different colleges; be sure to read the international section on each college’s website.
  • Proof of English Proficiency: Most schools require proof of English proficiency and all of them accept the TOEFL.
  • Financial Certification: All schools will require a “financial certification”: an original bank letter verifying one year’s worth of tuition and a form filled out by bank officials. Consult individual college websites about this requirement. Some schools will require this as part of your application; others will only require it if you matriculate.
  • Visa and I20 Info: Many schools will require a photocopy of your passport, I20 and visa during the application process. Consult individual college websites about this requirement. PLEASE NOTE: Mrs. Caplin in the Academic Office is the person you will need to coordinate with to transfer your visa to your college next spring. To avoid problems and delays (and a possible cancellation of your I20), be sure that you follow her instructions and complete all forms before you leave school after graduation.
  • It is best to list your home address as your “permanent address” and your Portsmouth Abbey address (285 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth, RI 02871) as your “current address.”
  • Transcripts: You MUST have an official English translation of your transcript from any secondary school you attended prior to enrolling at PAS.

Need-Based Financial Aid For International Students

  • Because international students are not eligible for the federal aid that United States citizens receive, very few US schools offer need-based aid for international students, and the competition for that aid is fierce. Your counselor can help you determine which schools do offer aid; but please understand that if you can’t afford the price of a school and that school doesn’t offer aid, it shouldn’t be on your list. Almost all US schools are “need aware” (they won’t admit you if you need financial aid) for international students.
  • Schools that do offer need-based aid will have their own forms for you to fill out, available on that school’s website.
  • You might also check with your counselor about any merit-based scholarships that might be available to international students.


The College Counseling Office

Corie McDermott-Fazzino, Director of College Counseling

Michael Bonin, Assistant Director of College Counseling

Kate Smith, College Advisor

Lisa Kerr, Office Administrator