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How American Universities Evaluate Your Academic Credentials

By Peterson's Staff updated on Sunday, January 27, 2013

If you're planning on applying to American universities or colleges, make sure you understand how a U.S. college evaluates your academic credentials. The process usually differs a bit from the procedures that U.S. students must follow. Most importantly, the application process takes a bit more time.

Each U.S. college makes is own admissions decisions

In many countries, the education system is nationalized and so, in your country, it is probably the Ministry of Education, or some similar body, that determines if foreign applicants can attend school there. However, in the U.S., there is no national or centralized agency that makes such decisions. The U.S. education system is competitive, and each U.S. college and university sets its own standards for admission, reviews your previous education and academic performance, and determines if you meet their standards.

There are lots of American colleges to choose from

Because U.S. colleges and universities operate in a competitive market, some schools are very particular about whom they will accept. Other colleges in the U.S. will accept just about anyone as long as they can pay their tuition. This allows for a wide variety of schools as well as ample opportunity for anyone to find a school where they can pursue further education.

With such diversity, American colleges and universities are generally classified as highly selective, selective, somewhat selective, or open admission (institutions that can admit students regardless of their previous academic performance). The level of selectivity that a school follows is based on many factors, and since each college and university has its own admission criteria, your academic credentials may meet the standards at some institutions but not at others.

How do U.S. colleges evaluate foreign educations?

Most U.S. schools have their own staff members evaluate your previous education, but there are some that may require you to send your academic records to an outside agency that specializes in providing evaluations of non-U.S. educations. If an outside agency is used, an institution may specify a particular agency, or it may provide you with a list of several agencies and ask you to choose one. These agencies are only responsible for assessing your previous education and providing the school with their evaluation. The final decision about whether or not to admit you is entirely up the U.S.A. university or college.

It's vital that you pay close attention to the instructions on each application you submit and that you follow the instructions carefully. If you're applying to more than one institution, you may have different instructions for each one. Don't assume that all American universities have the same requirements.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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