How can international students transfer to a U.S. university?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

U.S. colleges and universities have always been popular choices for international college students. International students transferring from a school in their home country or within the U.S. should take a look at this article.

 Ai My Thai, an international student from Vietnam, spent three years at Green River College in Washington where she obtained her high school diploma and two associate degrees in science and engineering. She then transferred to Georgia Institute of Technology where she graduated in December with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering.

International students can definitely consider using school transfers for reasons from costs to not yet being ready for a four-year university, or a school not being a good fit.

Throughout her path through higher education, Thai says, “I had more time to get used to the culture, how U.S. school works and how to communicate in English.”

Before considering transfer options, experts suggest that international students take English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, and any other required college admissions exams. Students should check with the institution they want to transfer to regarding specific requirements.

Here are three transfer options for international students to consider:

  1. Transferring from a university in the home country.
  2. Transferring from a U.S. two-year community college.
  3. Transferring from a U.S. four-year university to another U.S. school.

Transferring from a university in the home country.

Prospective international students may feel more comfortable first taking courses at a school in their home country and then transferring to a U.S. college or university.

“If [an international student] plans to transfer from a university in [their] home country to a U.S. university, it’s important to start the process early because [it] will likely need… an evaluation of the class… taken back home,” shares Christina Khan, director of UCF Global at the University of Central Florida.

Khan says that course evaluations can take up to several weeks, so it’s important to start early.  Due to differences in academic systems, “some credits may or may not transfer to [the] new school in the U.S. and [GPA] may be calculated differently.”

International students should apply months in advance to make sure that they have enough time to prepare application requirements and be aware that deadlines can be different than ones for first-year applicants.

Transferring from a U.S. two-year community college.

International students who are not ready for a four-year university or need time to work on their GPA can think about starting at a U.S. community college and transferring to a university beginning junior year.

Students should take classes that transfer over and should regularly meet with their counselor to help them stay on track with meeting transfer requirements.

Community colleges are good options because it can provide access to competitive four-year institutions as third-year transfer students.

Community colleges give international students time to accustom themselves to the life in the U.S. and the U.S. education system.

Transferring from a U.S. four-year university to another U.S. school.

International students, once already at a U.S. school, may find themselves not quite satisfied with their experience. If this is the case, they could consider transferring to another U.S. college or university that is a better fit.

There are two parts to transferring universities for international students.

The first part is the academic transfer, which includes admission and credit evaluation for transfer to the new school.

The second part is the immigration transfer of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record to the new school. SEVIS is used by the government to maintain information on international students.

Academic transfer must happen first. Afterwards, students can begin the immigration status transfer and can follow instructions at the transfer-in school for timely assurance of their I-20.

As someone who decided to transfer from a U.S. community college, Thai feels she made the right choice. She currently works full time at Delta Air Lines and has been enrolled part time in an online master of science degree at Georgia Tech.

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