Making a US college list can be very hard. Since most of us are international students requiring a lot of aid, the process becomes even harder because we need to be able to separate colleges that provide ample scholarships with the ones that don’t. If the last sentences don’t make sense to you, you should first read our introductory article on US colleges here. Return back after you have read it.
Regardless, you are likely to be intimidated when you first make your US college list. To simplify things for you, we have compiled a list of guidelines to choose the best colleges for you. Be warned that US colleges are very competitive and will require you to master all sections of the application process, more on that here.
Financial Aid Availability
Financial aid is a primary factor in choosing colleges for almost all Nepalis. Whenever you see a college that interests you, be sure to check if aid is available. A simple trick to this is to search in the following format in google ” <university name> financial aid for international students”. Many universities only provide aid to domestic students and international students aren’t given aid. So even if the website says they will provide aid, it may not apply to international students. Check the website thoroughly and look for a specific instance that states that aid is available for international students.
College scholarships availability
The term “financial aid” and “scholarships” aren’t exactly the same. Financial aid is usually provided on the basis of need i.e. if your family income is low, you will get aid as long as you are accepted to the university. Scholarships, on the other hand, can be mostly attributed to merit-based funding. Most colleges don’t give financial aid to international students but their might still be merit-based scholarships available. The most common type of merit-based scholarship is the Presidential scholarship. If you can get that, your tuition, room, and board fees will be covered.
Besides presidential scholarships, university-specific scholarships may also be available. In this case, too, don’t forget to check if scholarship applications are open to international students too.
Branching out your list
After you have selected universities that give aid, you will now need to put them into categories. Your list should have 3 categories: Reach, Match, and Safety.
In the reach category, you will put colleges that are either very competitive or typically take students that have higher stats than yours. A helpful guide for this is:
- Any university with <25% is automatically a reach for top scorers. If your SAT score/ GPA is less than 1400/3.6, any college with < 30% acceptance is automatically a reach.
- Universities whose median SAT/ GPA range is higher than your SAT/GPA. For example, if the SAT range for a university is 1300-1400 but your SAT score is 1250, then that university is a reach for you.
In the Match category are universities that you have a somewhat decent shot of getting into. A helpful guide for this is:
- Any college with <40%; >25% acceptance for top scorers. If your SAT score/ GPA is less than 1400/3.6, any college with <50%; >30% acceptance is automatically a match.
- Universities whose median SAT/ GPA range falls in or right below your score is a match. For example, if the SAT range for a university is 1300-1400 but your SAT score is 1350, then that university is a match for you.
Just a heads up, if you are an international student that requires aid, there simply aren’t any safeties for you. Universities with an acceptance rate higher than 50% very rarely provide aid and/or scholarships to international students. Regardless, here are the guidelines for safety colleges.
- Any university with >40% acceptance for top scorers. If your SAT score/ GPA is less than 1400/3.6, then universities will vary accordingly.
- Universities whose median SAT/ GPA range falls significantly below your category is safe. For example, if the SAT range for a university is 1300-1400 but your SAT score is 1500, then that university is safe for you.
You should apply to more than 15 universities if you want significant amount of aid (The limit is 20). Your match list must be the longest and your reaches and safeties should be accordingly balanced.
No more considerations?
You might be wondering if that is all there is to make a US college list. Well, to be honest, if you want the best possible shot at getting it, there isn’t. If you have a specific major like Engineering or Business, then you will have to check if your major is available.
Other than that though, there really isn’t much to choose from. Since international students requiring aid are very very rarely accepted, we have to work with what we have. You might see articles online that ask to take school size, location, and everything into account but we are beggars. And beggars can’t be choosers. Its best to only consider majors and scholarships while applying and you will have the best possible shot of getting in with aid.
Here are some top colleges that have consistently taken students from Nepal. This list can be a guide for choosing colleges.