Advice on applications as an International Student

Posted by Yuki Okamoto, '20 on February 21, 2019

Hi! This is Yuki, and I would like to provide you with some tips & things to remember regarding graduate school applications as an international student.

1. Start collecting information about the program you are interested in early

Some of the things you could do to learn more about Penn GSE include reading student blogs that provide you with information about school life, Philadelphia etc., participating in webinars to get your questions answered, or scheduling a GSE campus tour done by our GSE Admission Ambassadors! If possible, you may also reach out to the GSE Alumni in your region/country to learn about their experiences. There is also plenty of information about the faculty members and what their research interests are on the GSE website. This may be a good place to start thinking about which programs match your interest in the field of education.

2. Remember to not just take the TOEFL/IELTS, but also “send” the scores

If you are not from a school where “English was the primary language of instruction”, TOEFL or IELTS is required on top of the GRE. To make sure that your application is processed in a timely manner, do not forget to select Penn GSE (code: 2943) prior to the TOEFL test/order it online after the test or send your IELTS score to Penn GSE Admissions office.

3. Get your transcripts evaluated

If you are an international student, you may have completed your previous degrees outside of the United States. Then, you will need to get your evaluated course-by-course transcripts by a NACES member (http://www.naces.org/members.html), which will send your evaluation directly to Penn GSE. Getting your transcripts may take some time and the evaluation could take several weeks to be completed as well, so keep this in mind when you are applying!

4. It is not just about those test scores

Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) and resume are just as important as your TOEFL/IELTS and GRE scores. SOP is where you can discuss your past experiences, why you want to study at GSE, and how you would like to apply your knowledge gained at GSE in the future. I got some professional guidance from a graduate school application consultant, but also revised my SOP many times on my own to make sure that I have described my strengths and what I could bring to GSE as well as the connections between my field of interest and the program in the best way possible. This takes time, so I highly recommend you to make a detailed plan (e.g. when to take the GRE, when to finish the first draft of your essay etc.) before you start working on your application process. If you have a clear plan of what you are going to do, you will be less likely to rush right before the application deadline and forget to submit the required documents.

The application process is not an easy road, especially if you are an international student applying to a graduate program in the United States for the first time. However, I can assure you that in the end, it all pays off!