7 months ago
Admissions Advice

Some disadvantages about being an international student?

Hello, I live in Korea, currently attending an international school. Though I am a native Korean I can speak Spanish, English, and Korean(obviously) fluently. I wish to apply for MIT however my parents are very concerned.

They want me to go to a local university because from their life experiences it is hard for an international student with absolutely no social network in the US to be accepted into a foreign school.

Deeply devoted to biology, I am practicing AP biology course on Khan Academy with various AP biology textbooks in my school library. Furthermore, as the leader of a biology club I direct bioinformatics experiments, hold book fairs, etc(not that impressive, but please consider that I'm only 14).

It would be a shame if I just give up my dream due to the high risks awaiting me. Anyone who could suggest some ways to be a competent student, that MIT would consider accepting me instead of in-state students?

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1 answer

7 months ago

It's good you are thinking ahead and have some goals. Many smart kids want to go to the top colleges so it's always great to have a favorite.

First, let me say a few things.

1.) In the US we have over 4000 colleges and you can get an excellent education in the Top 100. The idea that only MIT or Harvard is good is not accurate or reasonable. For STEM majors, most HS applicants also consider RICE, UC Berkeley, CalTech, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Stanford, U Michigan, UC San Diego, U Penn, Boston University. Northwestern, Brown, and others.

2.) International Students are disadvantaged not only because of distance and culture but because the most financial aid goes to Americans. I'm sure the inverse is true in Asia as well. It would be hard for an American to get a full-ride scholarship to Yonsei, Seoul National, or Korea University.

3.) Admit rates for International students have typically been harder at MIT than American applicants. This year the average admission rate was 4.0% overall and I believe Intl students were about 3% so that means that you can't put all your efforts into 1 school or application. Typically the best American students apply to 10 to 20 universities with the hopes of getting into their top 3-5. It's been more difficult this year because of test-optional.

It would be much easier for you and your parents expectations if you applied to more schools in American cities where there exists a large South Korean population, like Southern California, NYC, or Boston. Why I say this is that sometimes it's much easier for a young college student to meet friends and do social things like getting Boba, eating Korean BBQ or going to a Korean movie with friends, or hitting golf balls if there is a Korean Town nearby. The easiest place I see you assimilating to would be Los Angeles. The best schools there are CalTech (easily as good as MIT), Occidental, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd College, UCLA, UC Irvine, USC. In Boston, you have BU, BC, Tufts, Harvard, MIT, and in NYC you have NYU, Columbia, and Cooper Union. If you go far away to schools like Dartmouth, or Cornell, or Vanderbilt, you are going to miss Korean food and your culture.

The last thing I would consider is that next summer you ask your parents if you can go to the US on an immersion college program either to an Ivy League school or something like that. I think MIT has one as well. This will give you and your parents a better idea of how living in Cambridge MA is and whether or not you like going to that School. Attending one of these doesn't necessarily help you get into that school but it doesn't hurt and admissions officers like seeing that kind of initiative on your college application.

Hope that helps.


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