The two biggest hurdles that many students face when hoping to attend college in the U.S. from abroad are:
and LANGUAGE SKILLS
While financial need continues to be an obstacle that keeps international applicants from fulfilling their dreams, the language barrier has become easier to surmount, thanks to “Conditional Acceptance” options that are increasingly offered by U.S. colleges and universities.
“Colleges Extend Conditional Admissions to Pull In More International Students,” an article by Chronicle of Higher Education writer Karin Fischer, notes that a growing number of U.S. institutions are offering English-language training to candidates who are otherwise qualified for admission in order to improve the students’ English skills before they begin to take actual college classes. Sometimes the English course is offered by the college or university itself, sometimes by an affiliated language school. Those who successfully complete the language program are then able to matriculate at the host or sponsoring institution.
But, if you’re considering such a program, there are three warnings to heed:
#1) These programs are usually costly and rarely offer any sort of financial assistance. They are geared to families who can afford them or to students who have received scholarships from their home government or from some other source
#2) University-affiliated programs are not likely to provide a faster track to obtaining a U.S. student visa than a legitimate stand-alone language program might. (A stand-alone program is one that is not part of a conditional acceptance package.) If you are primarily interested in English-language training, then a conditional-acceptance college program is probably not for you.
#3) Many of the U.S. institutions that offer conditional-acceptance programs are not the well-known names that so many international students recognize. While this may, in some respects be a plus (because it opens foreign students’ eyes to broader and more realistic options), don’t assume that your conditional acceptance will be coming from Harvard, Princeton, or Yale!