Quick Facts 4 - Admission & Campus
What is the difference between early decision and early action? What is a dorm? What different kind of admission requirements are there? How do you pay your tuition fees? Where do you find job as an international student? Below you will find answers to admission and campus-related questions that is useful for international students to know.
For instance, what kind of jobs are availabe for international students in the USA? Make sure to also visit our Employment page for additional information about university jobs and off-campus jobs available to international students. This sections also touches on admission requirement. Feel free to also visit the Admission page for a more detailed look at bachelor's, master's, and doctorate (PhD) admission requirement for international student.
When you are done with this section, feel free to read the other quick facts relating to classes, exams, and an overview of the US higher education system.
What is the difference between University and Program admission requirements?
There are generally two sets of admission requirements. While students have to meet general admission requirements set by the university/college, often individual programs have additional requirements that also need to be fulfilled.
For instance, in addition to the general requirements set by a university, individual programs such as the College of Business or the College of Engineering may require a higher GPA or that prospective students have taken classes relevant to the proposed major. Make sure you visit the admission page for your program as well as the university’s main admission page.
When reviewing admission requirements you must make sure that you are looking for the requirements applicable to international students and not to domestic students (US students). Be aware that some universities/colleges do not distinguish between international students and US students in terms of admission requirements – meaning the majority of the requirements are the same for both applicant groups. However, even in these cases there are likely to still be differences in the requirements. Two differences are very likely to be the English proficiency requirement and the requirement for financial funds, which is significantly higher for international students.
What is the difference between Early Decision and Early Action?
Early Decision is an application procedure offered by universities/colleges that allows a student to submit its application early and receive a decision earlier than students applying under the regular application process. The decision is legally binding and the student is required to accept the admissions offer and must withdraw all other applications it has submitted to other universities/colleges.
Early Action is also an application procedure offered by universities/colleges that allows international students to submit their application early and receive a decision earlier than students applying under the regular application process. However, here a student is not required to accept the admissions offer and generally have until late spring to make a decision for fall admission. You can apply under Early Action to as many institutions as you want.
The advantage of utilizing Early Decision or Early Action is that you are competing against a smaller number of students which could increase your chance of being admitted. Note that Early Decision and Early Action are not available to international students at all university/college.
What is a Placement Test and why do I have to take it?
Placement test is an academic test for a specific field of study, given to students in order to determine the appropriate course to place the student. These tests are given to students after they have been accepted. If a student scores high, the person will be placed in a higher class level. Normally, students are given a placement test in math and English, and if scoring high the student will not have to take lower level classes in these subjects. As an example, if you score high enough in the math placement test you could skip college algebra and intermediate algebra and instead be place directly in pre-calculus (also called pre-cal) or calculus. You have everything to win by taking a placement test, especially money if you are placed in a higher class and can skip one or two levels. Placement tests are often mandatory, but not always.
I have read about Orientation, what is it?
Orientation is the official process of welcoming new, accepted students to the university/college and providing them with information and policies before classes begin, usually in a half-day or full-day event. Many US universities and colleges offer a separate orientation just for international students to cover topics such as how to follow immigration and visa regulations, set up a U.S. bank account, and handle culture shock. Some universities/colleges even dedicate a full week to orientation, called “orientation week.”
How and when do I have to pay my Tuition Fee?
Tuition Fee is the amount a university/college charge students for tuition (instruction). Tuition fees are often given per credit/unit or in a lump sum for a particular program. Tuition fees are often separated into in-state (resident) or out-of-state (non-resident) fees.
Out-of-State-Tuition: This is tuition fees charged to non-resident students (also called Out-of-State students), and is considerably higher than for in-state students. As an international student you will be subject to out-of-state tuition since you are neither a US citizen, permanent legal alien (green card holder), or have lived in the state in question for a minimum of one year for other reasons than being a student. US students residing in other states than where the university/college in question is located will also be charged out-of-state tuition.
In-State-Tuition: This is tuition fee charged to students that are legal residents of the state where the university or college is physically located. In-State-Tuition is substantially lower than Out-of-State tuition; however, as an international student you will rarely qualify for in-state-tuition.
You can very often pay your tuition fees in instalment. This is a partial payment of a debt, similar to a payment plan. You can very often pay your tuition fees in instalments, generally split in to four equal monthly payments. You can always pay your tuition fees in a lump sum (everything at once).
Commonly students pay tuition fees and any other related fees at the Bursar’s Office. This is also the office usually responsible for the administration of financial aids, including scholarships and grants. Note that universities/colleges have different names for the office where you go to pay for your fees, and some do not use the term Bursar’s Office.
What is a Dorm?
Dorm is short for dormitory (also called residence hall) and is student housing provided by the university/college, normally situated on campus. For a fee international students can live in the dorms and typically share a room with one or more students. Single rooms also exist at most universities/college but are charged at a higher rate. Depending on university/college, the dorms are either “coed” (both women and men) or separate. It is far more common to say “dorm” than it is to say “dormitory.”
Normally, you will indicate on your admission application form if you want to be considered for on-campus housing. It is very competitive and the earlier you send in your application the better.
Very often when you live in the dorms you will also have the option to buy a meal plan. This can include breakfast, lunch, and dinner or only one or two of your choosing. Typically you will live in the dorm but eat your meals in the dining hall or campus cafeteria.
What is a Student Advisor? Why and when should I meet my advisor?
A student advisor can also be called student counselor, academic counselor, or academic advisor.
A student advisor is a person at the university/college who gives students guidance and advice regarding a variety of academic topics, including what classes and electives to take, explain university/college credit requirements, major credit requirements, and inform about academic policies and procedures. Go and see an academic advisor if you have any questions relating to your academic progress.
You should also visit your International Student Advisor. This is the person appointed by a university/college to assist and give information to international students in matters such as academic rules and policies, visa status, orientation, insurance, among other areas. At many institutions the international student advisor also serves as the academic advisor. It is recommended that you establish a strong relationship with both members of the International Student Office and your international student advisor. The people working in these roles generally have great cultural awareness and understanding, and have the skill set to help you progress in your educational development.
What are my employment options as an international student?
As an international student you are allowed to work part-time (20 hours) per week. In general you are only allowed to work on-campus but under certain circumstances you can be permitted to obtain employment off-campus.
Many departments on campus, such as the dorms, library, bookstore, and cafeteria usually hire international students on a part-time basis and are well informed of the procedure of hiring an international student.
To be able to work you first need to apply for a social security number (SSN). A social Security Number is a nine-digit number issued to US citizens, permanent residents, and temporary workers by the U.S. government. It was initially issued for federal tax (social security) purposes but is now also used for identification purposes. Speak with your international student advisor or visit the International Student Office at your institution and they will be able to provide you with more information.
See our Employment page for more information and helpful advice.