Don't spend a lot of time on discussion boards about admissions statistics.
Researching your future professors online can help students be confident in their decision to apply to their short list of colleges.
1. Don't dwell on admissions statistics: A common mistake made by a lot of international students is that they tend to gather information about average SAT scores, GPA and even backgrounds of those applying previously to weigh their chances of admission. However, if college A had an average SAT score of 1900, and your score landed in the 1850s, you should not be too discouraged.
A lot of other factors are considered, as college admissions is a holistic process. Message board "chance me" topics, where students post their personal achievements and grades to ask current college students to weigh their chances usually scare a lot of students away as well. Those statistics online are often very impressive, such as "I have a perfect 4.0 GPA and have been a high school team a cappella captain for 3 years ... " You can simply Google "chance me, college X", with X as the name of your dream school to see these.
But keep in mind that sometimes these posts can be dubious, as students can fabricate and even make up such statistics to scare others away. Moreover, the "advisers" who are current college students can only speculate about your chances. A lot of their advice was even wrong when acceptances come out. For instance, my friend who applied to Vanderbilt University last year was rejected, even though people on the forums were impressed with his SATs and GPA and said he had a high chance of getting in.
[Find out what www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2015/06/16/pay-attention-to-4-overlooked-factors-when-researching-us-colleges" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2015/06/16/pay-attention-to-4-overlooked-factors-when-researching-us-colleges" target="_blank">to look for when researching U.S. colleges.]
2. Check out www.ratemyprofessors.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/" target="_blank">Rate My Professors: Many international students are not familiar with this website which includes both praise and criticism about the professors at U.S. colleges and universities.
What it does is allow students to, as the name says, rate their teachers on a scale of 1-5 – with 1 being the least favorable and 5 being the best – and comment about how they felt after taking the class with that particular professor. However, it is not just a place where students go just to criticize their teachers, but to give insightful reviews about their classroom experience.
While this is not to encourage you to judge their teaching ability based on whether the students like them, it is a way to get a sense of the educational quality of the places you're apply to. Those instructors who receive 4 to 5 stars are good ones to try to take classes with. The site explains how teachers are scored based on the students' experience in the classroom, and it also removes vulgar and dubious posts to make the system more objective. For instance, if you are an aspiring biology major, you can look at the average grade that professors in the biology department at one college get before you send your application there.
[Learn about www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2015/05/19/4-ways-international-students-can-weigh-potential-majors" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2015/05/19/4-ways-international-students-can-weigh-potential-majors" target="_blank">ways international students can weigh potential majors.]
3. Read your essay over and over, until the last minute: Manywww.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2013/09/12/3-college-application-essay-tips-for-international-students" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2013/09/12/3-college-application-essay-tips-for-international-students"> international students are comfortable writing their essays in just two or three weeks, and submitting right away, or putting it aside to submit it when the time comes. Remember, your college essays speaks the most about who you are, and therefore is the most time-consuming part of your application.
It does not need to be the most inspiring topic you can ever think of, but can be something very simple about your life. However, it requires tremendous editing efforts and consideration. The more admission counselors see that you spend the time taking care of your admission essay, the more they find you responsible and mature as an applicant.