For prospective international students, having an admissions representative visit your home country is a great opportunity. You can ask admissions officers a lot of questions without worrying about being annoying.
If you know representatives are coming, take advantage of the opportunity and prepare questions ahead of time.
You may run into one of two scenarios: having no questions to ask or having countless questions. In either situation, try to come up with the five questions that concern you the most and that you could only find the answers to from admissions representatives.
Before asking these questions, you should make sure that you read the school's website. Stay away from asking self-explanatory questions or those with answers that can be easily found on the school's website.
However, you can ask for further information about or for confirmation of what you read. Some questions you may want to ask include the following.
First, ask about the percentage of international students enrolled. Many U.S. colleges and universities welcome international students as a way to embrace cultural diversity. However, you probably don't want to spend two to four years in an academic environment where either all or none of your classmates are international students.
It is important for international students to have community support from their compatriots, but you also want to make the most of your overseas experience by engaging with the local culture.
Second, ask what qualities admissions representatives are most looking for from international students. Ask them how to make selling points such as different perspectives and life experiences compelling in a competitive application process.
If necessary, seek concrete examples. For example, ask what they value hearing the most regarding an internship experience at home.
Third, ask what international student services the school provides. Some information – such the cost of tuition for international students, international student health care and a checklist for students upon arriving in the U.S. – can be found on schools' websites.
[Check out schools where international students get the most aid.]
However, you might not know from your online research whether you will be paired with an international student adviser. While meeting representatives face to face, that may be a question to ask.
Fourth, ask representatives what challenges international students most commonly face in both academic and daily life. You may learn what you should avoid or pay attention to by hearing previous international students' stories. This also will give you an idea of what studying abroad will be like.
[Learn how to find the right U.S. college for you.]
Last but not least, ask what job or internships opportunities schools offer for international students. It's never too early to think about this.
After all, your ultimate goal is to find a good-paying job – hopefully – and live happily ever after once you graduate. Better internships opportunities might land you a better job, and you should take this into consideration when narrowing your application list.
Asking questions is the first thing that introverted or shy international students should learn before they head to the U.S. It's not an exaggeration to say that the majority of American college students are very eloquent and they are not shy about expressing themselves.
If you are ready to embrace the challenge, start asking questions now.
Jia Guo, from China, graduated from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism after transferring from Shandong University of Political Science and Law in Jinan, China, where she studied law. Guo is currently a graduate journalism student at New York University.