I spent my freshman year of high school in the United States, my sophomore year of high school in England attending a private school, and my junior and senior years back in the United States. Reason was parents got transferred. I spoke a lot about this “international experience” of mine and what I took away from England in many of supplement essays. I’ve heard from plenty of peers and adults that this experience will be looked on very favorably on my application, and that colleges like students who have experienced different cultures. Is there any validity to this? Has any admissions officer ever actually spoken on this or is it an urban legend of some kind?
Lots of students have this kind of experience due to parents being transferred, much as there are many students who have had to move from one part of the US to another due to parents being transferred.
What would be important is how you were able to frame it in your essays.
Having lived in another country and knowing their culture is always a plus. It isn’t really a “hook” or anything, but is nonetheless a good thing to have.
It is a plus but not a hook. At least, it will enrich your essay.
is UK culture really that different from American culture?
It will probably confirm that like many applicants, you are from a privileged background. There are only so many ways you can wax lyrical about the language challenges presented by such situations as sharing your rubber in class or patting someone’s fanny.
The focus (in my essay) wasn’t on difficulties that I experienced in moving but rather the different cultures I experienced and how they helped shape who I am. It certainly enriched my essay; I was just wondering the extent to which the fact alone that I lived abroad might help garner “points” towards acceptance.
Edit: I know it’s a “plus,” but like how much of a plus is what I’ve been trying to figure out. On the range of non-academic things that you can do to improve your applicaiton, from becoming an officer in a club to winning the Intel STS, where would it fall?
not much of a plus if at all because it doesn’t actually speak to your qualities
I would put it as being President of a minor club. Sorry. If you lived in Bali for a year, maybe. Unless you can make a funny essay or talk about something that you overcame because of it without sounding whiny.
Friend told me about her cousin whose parents decided to be teachers and just travel the world. They had met at a fancy LAC that they were still very involved with, maybe did overseas interviewing or something, I do not remember which. They had one daughter who spoke a bunch of languages had lived in 12 different countries, many in the third world. From what I remember her SAT scores were quite good. She did not get into the LAC her parents graduated from and ended up someplace really eh
Isn’t the UK like America-lite? Heck, it has English & Madonna.
Of course the UK is “international” and it’s not a mini US. (Boy, that assumption sure gets my British friends annoyed. Or maybe they’d say “vexed.”) But yeah, it depends on how attentive you are and how you can write it up. Bill Bryson got a whole book out of the contrasts. At least two, actually. (“Notes from a Small Island,” on the UK, and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” on moving back to the US from the UK – a collection of his newspaper essays on American life for British readers.)
It’s certainly true that “international experience” by itself – whether in the UK or Bali – isn’t nearly as unusual as it would have been 30 or even 10 years ago, and isn’t an automatic ticket to whatever fancy LAC the alleged parents of someone’s friend’s cousin’s daughter happened to supposedly want to go to but didn’t get into, despite her amazing SATs and her little dog too. (OK, it may be a perfectly legit example and not a game of telephone at all. I live overseas and can think of globally super-experienced kids who “didn’t get in” to the fancy LACs; but that glass is either half empty or half full. A school that’s just “eh” for one person might be perfect for another person. I can’t say what their reality is. I’m not their parents, and I’m not them )
Anyway, it may not be some kind of automatic “in,” but I really do think that if the experience in England WAS something you processed in a meaningful way and learned from and gave you lots of great ideas that you’re connecting to your studies and your life and so on, and if you can put that into an essay, then yes, it will show the admissions folks at the right school what you’d be bringing to the mix.
It’s one of those things that sounds impressive to most people, but less so to colleges.
My point was that she had a way more interesting experience than the average kid from 90210 or whereever and could bring her experiences in the third world to the table. Plus she was a legacy of involved parents at the LAC, her SATs were fine for the school. I have recently read through countless threads that top colleges are looking for the unusal life experience to create a diverse student body or some other nonsense, I would say this qualifies but apparently they did not think so
As opposed to a american family friend who grew up partly in Singapore where his father was working, was not asian and got in every place he applied 30 years ago including ivies. Same with another family friend who is American and Italian and grew up in Italy. He got into every college and grad school 20 years ago. Believe me, it was not because he won Intel
If you already had the stats to get into a school, it might make a little bit of difference. But it won’t add 200 points to your SAT score.
SaphireNY, a sample of one does not suffice to “prove” anything. Your friend may have had subpar scores for that applicant pool or boring essays or so-so recommendations. In addition, at LACs with 30% or less acceptance rates, legacy really helps if the parents have heavily been involved with the school throughout the years and the student applies ED, but otherwise is just a small boost. So, while diversity of experience does help, highly selective colleges turn down more students than they admit, including thousands of very qualified applicants.
Baloney1011: it is a boost but not a hook. All other things being equal, it’ll help you get in, but you need to have the curriculum rigor, grades, scores, essays, and recommendations that everyone is. It’s going to be another “everything being equal” situation. But, yes, it’s definitely going to put you on their radar if you have strong curriculum rigor, sufficient test scores, and no red flags in your recommendations.
Well, you’ll find out in another week or so.