2. Seek out peer resources. Though the increasing number of graduate students may seem daunting, international M.B.A. applicants can take comfort in the fact that most likely there have been foreign students who have already forged paths at the prospective school and who may be able to offer support. Connecting with them, however, can be challenging.
"One key issue that many students face is finding a credible person, preferably someone who's international and has been through the same process that can share his or her experiences," says Unicq's Phua. "It's difficult to find, because you go on forums; you try to stalk people on Facebook; and it's a tough process."
Such was the impetus for UNIcq, which Phua founded with partner Chan in June. The organization aims to provide support to prospective international students who hope to attain any level of education in the United States Currently, the network provides guidance for applicants to Cornell University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California—Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylania, though it hopes to expand its base of mentors.
Informal counselors guide students through broad, initial questions ("How do I reach my dream school?") and offer more detailed tips as the application process progresses. (Learn meditiation before taking a standardized test, Phua suggests.) They also provide counseling for common pitfalls for international applicants, such as a tendency to be too humble in personal essays, as Asian students are typically trained, rather than writing proudly and effectively about individual achievements to U.S. admissions counselors.
"There are many difficulties around this journey," Phua says. "We really want to reach out to international students so that they don't have to go through the same pains and troubles that we did."
3. Cover all your bases. A business school application isn't the only paperwork required to come to the United States At the University of Dayton School of Business Administration, counselors are now helping direct international applicants through the visa application process as well. Securing a visa is a crucial part of the process that ensures international students can arrive on campus, says the school's executive director of enrollment strategies, Molly Wilson.
"The visa can be one barrier for [an accepted student]," Wilson says. "They like us; we like them, but there's another outside entity that actually plays a role in whether or not they can actually come."
This type of practical guidance is increasingly common, she adds, as more schools seek to attract international applicants. That's now a concerted effort at the University of Dayton, where international student enrollment in the M.B.A. program has increased 72 percent since 2005.
"We all grow up in our own little bubble," Wilson says. "[International students] provide us with a much broader sense of understanding about people, about cultures, and about attitudes. It really makes the entire university campus more well-rounded and globally minded."
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