Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. She provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions and guides students through the entire application process, including completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships and financial aid.
What are the best scholarships to pursue for international students interested in attending U.S. colleges?
Colleges want to attract the best and brightest international students, and they do that by offering scholarships – it is another word for merit aid. Typically, the most money comes directly from the university – that's how they attract the best students. Many colleges offer need-based aid, but merit-based scholarships are pretty much open to anyone. A lot of times, just by applying to the university students are in the running for a merit-based scholarship.
What's the best resource for international students to find information about scholarships at U.S. colleges?
The best place is on each college's web site. When you use third-party sources, they are not always up to date. With the schools, you can go directly to their web sites for the most up-to-date information about the scholarship.
Which schools offer the most scholarship money for international students?
The most generous universities tend to be private universities, and to be more specific, small private universities since they are competing with the big-name schools. International students shouldn't rule out small, private liberal arts colleges.
Also, the big-name state schools have to accept a certain number of in-state students to receive their state funding, so the bar is raised higher for international students. Private universities don't have to worry about that, so they can accept more international students.
Is the college application process different for international students than for domestic students?
It's very similar. Once international students are accepted, their school issues an F-1 visa for them. That is just the additional step, since the school is essentially sponsoring them to be here.
Any tips or suggestions for submitting compelling essays?
You want to tell a compelling narrative about your life. You want the school to feel it is your top choice. Tell them why you really want to attend school there, which classes you want to take, which clubs and organizations you want to join – essentially how you will be active and participate on campus. Show them you have done your research and have really looked into the college and that it's a good fit. Tailor your essay to the specific college.