Academics & Tutoring User Posts


Graduates wearing black cap and gowns taking a selfie
ACT & SAT Tests Are Standardized, But You're Not
Widely accepted as university qualifying exams, these tests claim to forecast students' ability to handle college-level work.

What determines college competence? For nearly a century now, the ACT and SAT have sought to answer this question for higher education institutions across the U.S. As an early alternative to the intelligence quotient exams of late 19th Century America, these tests were quickly accepted as the standard college assessment exams. However, in recent years, the testing paradigm has begun to change. More and more colleges are opting to make the ACT/SAT optional, and instead have adopted a more holistic approach to undergraduate admissions. The problem with standardized tests, colleges find, is that they adopt an averages range that students fail to fit into. Time and time again, standardized test scores have proven to be inaccurate representations of their taker's abilities. Ultimately, everyone is different, and no one fits the exact description of “the average student.” So why is "standardized test prep" so popular?

The preparation you need for an assessment depends greatly on the way you learn and your individual strengths and weaknesses, but tests like the ACT and SAT are often about learning how to "hustle" the test itself (i.e. teaching students ways to “beat the system”). This fissure between the aim of college readiness examinations and the reasoning tests we have today lies within both the skewed definition of college readiness dictated by these testing services and the margin for error present in the testing structure. The various examples of outlier students who effortless score highly on these exams and the futility of effort by those who commit inordinate amounts of time to be disappointed again and again elucidates a strong consistency with the ACT/SAT’s markedly unbalanced analysis of student success potential.

Furthermore, if college tests are predominantly about mastering the course’s subject matter instead of how quickly you adopt to the process of beating a score, then why do companies that make these tests provide so many practice exams? Not only does the assessment provide scores relative to nothing comparable in college experiences, they foster an unrealistic assumption of reversibility when colleges expect nothing less than excellence on first attempts. The practice of make-up or re-assessments is common in high school and accentuates a study and test-taking attitude that diminishes when students begin college. The ACT and SAT corroborates this practice, providing test-takers with multiple opportunities throughout the year to re-assess their ability to take exams with highly particular construction standards.

While the SAT and ACT constantly reassure customers that their exams test skills needed to help students excel at the college level, many students often remark upon the uselessness or irrelevancy of certain skill sets advocated by the education behind the exams. This translates into factual complications when colleges represent a concentration of subject matter for students pursuing specific fields of employment disconnected from the construction standards of standardized tests. The SAT vocabulary set is infamous for being disconnected from daily English utilization and reading, leading some students to believe the exam itself is deliberately designed to confuse students, obfuscating the answer in unnecessary convolutions that make the exam more of a puzzle than a skill test. Fortunately, the new SAT updated in 2016 amputates the vocabulary complete-the-sentence section. Unfortunately, the endemic flaws of standardized testing are realized through the abundance of test prep advice and evidence that supports the frustrated student’s view of college prediction exams.

Author of several “Black Books” (a play on the widespread usage of the College Board’s SAT prep book dubbed the “Blue Book”) on test-taking tips and of the #1 Amazon Bestseller book ACT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective ACT Strategies Ever Published, Mike Barrett has extensively noted the fact of deliberate mystification in the standardized test-taking procedure. As he explicates in his “Black Book” on the SAT, standardized tests are met with the production challenge of establishing a base line of inquiry that maximizes the individual chances of the broadest ranges of potential test-takers. Unfortunately, this utopic vision of the perfect test for the perfect pot of potential students strays far from the reality of standardized testing in America today. Instead, the SAT and tests like it produce questions designed around “tricks” and deciphering the concealed complexities of the question itself. This skill is taught to students from when they are in elementary school, but the way the SAT goes about it strays from the constructive intention of scholastic skills.

While colleges might test the understanding of course material through questions that require students to grasp the subject matter at hand, the SAT constructs questions designed to “trick” students unaware of their construction into picking the wrong answers. The process of SAT test-taking is usually not about choosing the right answer, but about finding out exactly what the question is asking. While this can be seen as an attempt by the testing board to educate students in the logical reasoning and fallacious red herrings prevalent in academic study, this attempt is usually misplaced for high school students attempting to showcase their intellectual aplomb. Realistically, individual intelligence is highlighted through a wide range of skill sets, while standardized tests by nature only cover a limited amount.

What does this mean for test-takers across the nation? Unfortunately, the inherent aptitudes of certain students creates an inevitable gap between score averages from year to year. Backgrounds in the subjects the ACT tests (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science Reasoning, and Writing) provides students with disproportionate advantages in the areas of their individual expertise. Compounding this margin for error is a familiarity with exam structure that is disregarded by standardized tests like the ACT and SAT because it showcases a blatant divide in the exam’s impartiality to new test-takers and one’s who have been through substantial prep. This divide is emphasized by the veritable cornucopia of test prep services provided by large corporations like The Princeton Review, Barron’s and even the testing administration itself (College Board and ACT, Inc.). The ACT prep site endorsed by the institution itself, known as ACT Aspire, conjoins students with materials derived from the hope of instilling the next generation with a fruitful capacity, targeting students from a young age in order to provide them with the necessary aptitude for college readiness. How can an exam claim to be unbiased when the corporation that creates it provides ample paid prep years before the test is ever administered?

More concrete and provable examples of test bias is advocated by the opponents of standardized testing who debate the ethnocentric wording used in the questions presented in the ACT and SAT. Examples include idioms that leave non-nationals at a disadvantage. Further, more inflammatory accusations cite neuroscience in their assurance that the male gender more readily guess on multiple choice questions, a practice that the exams reward. Standardized tests then are seeking to stretch out the limits of an exam construct that inherently possesses irremovable bias.

Given the miniscule average amount of score variation within ACT percentile ranges, testing administration can speciously assure colleges that their exams possess a negligible margin of error. In reality, colleges often possess cut-off score ranges that significantly reduce the chances of students seeking admission into competitive colleges. With a high traffic flow of high-achieving students each year applying to a limited amount of seats at top institutions, the resulting effect of a measurable discrepancy between test scores can prove fatal to otherwise qualified applicants. Although admissions officers often stress the dual consideration of a student’s application (i.e. the soft: extracurricular activities, etc., and hard: test scores, GPA, etc.) the sheer confluence of applicants from across the nation and their high school standards statistically increases the importance of each component, including standardized test scores.

In a time when national universities are becoming increasingly competitive over time and acceptance rates at colleges are decreasing each admission year, the probability of mutable testing scores and their dubious assessment of college readiness presents too great a risk for colleges to continue accepting as an accredited standard. Instead, post-secondary education institutions should look to students and their individual complexity when considering their admission. Leading institutions like the University of Chicago and University of California, Berkeley are already paving the way for a more holistic view of student potential. Hopefully this trend towards a comprehensive and unbiased examination of applicants deters standardized testing and diminishes its prevalence in years to come.


Photo Credit: Nazareth College


Roman Soldiers Sitting Outside
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Collapse From Within

The Western Roman Empire, at its greatest extent, included modern day Spain, France, Italy, England, and parts of North Africa. The Romans, masters of war and commerce, dominated this vast amount of land for almost a thousand years, first as a republic then as a mighty empire. Even so, the Romans could not maintain their power forever. Military conflicts with the barbarians are often seen as the major cause of the dissolution of the Empire. 1 However, with a critical look at the sources, the student of history can see that the Empire was already sick from internal disease before the barbarians finished it off with force. The Empire's massive financial crisis combined with rampant political corruption, the growth of Christianity, and the separation of East and West, damaged the empire beyond repair and left it vulnerable.

The root of the Empire's slump is found in its financial crises, dating back to the era of the Roman Republic. 2 The Republic gained funds and strength by placing farmers on conquered lands. The Republic grew in wealth and power by drawing upon the hard work of its territories, exploiting the slaves it captured, and plundering its enemies. This economic reliance on expansion turned out to have detrimental consequences for the Romans. Towards the latter days of the Republic, commerce increasingly centered on the slave trade. 3 With the dawn of Augustus' Pax Romana, came the inception of many future issues. A decline in war and piracy, brought about the reduction of slaves entering the Roman Empire. Problems began to brew due to the economy’s dependence on slaves. Without enough slaves to exploit, the aristocratic land owning class often looked to the lower classes of freemen to utilize for their ends. The aristocracy even attempted to suppress their rights through legislative means. Roman citizenship slowly became meaningless and gave rise to a division in the society. The aristocratic exploitation of the poor and working classes ensured that the people who worked could not enjoy the product of their labor. This gave laborers no incentive to master their craft or trade and led to a Roman stagnation that would only grow until the final collapse of the Empire.

Another problem that severely crippled the Roman economy was providing for the nation's defense. Due to the vast amounts of land they conquered, the Romans needed a large standing army to rule and administer their territory. 4 This great army, however, was costly and required the government to continuously tax. One anonymous source writes in 368 A.D about how the great expenses of the army had affected the tax system; "Let us turn now to the vast expenditure on the army which must be checked similarly, for this is what has thrown the entire system of tax payment into difficulties...." 5 Growing taxes made it increasingly difficult for Roman trade to prosper and pitted peasants against the government. 6 Many Roman peasants defected and fought alongside their invaders such as the Visigoths. The historian Zosimus, who lived during the end of the 5th century, writes, "as a result of this exaction of taxes, city and countryside were full of laments and complaints, and all... sought the help of the barbarians." 7 The critical student of history will see that all the issues so far discussed are related to each other. The overexpansion of the empire led to an influx of slaves, but also a vast amount of land to care for. Once expansion halted in the second century, slaves became more difficult to find, causing the economy to slowly sink. 8 To continue governing the vast areas of land controlled by the Empire and to maintain the lifestyle of the aristocracy, taxes were imposed and rights were slowly stripped away from the lower classes. These factors contributed to the foundation of the steady decline of the Empire.

During these financially questionable times, political corruption was rampant. Financial decay aggravated political corruption, and political corruption accelerated financial decay. Herodian of Syria recounts how one man actually bought the office of emperor in 193 A.D; "When [Julianus] came to the to the wall of the camp, he called out to the troops and promised to give them just as much as they desired, for he had ready money and a treasure room full of gold and silver…Captivated by such speeches...the soldiers hailed Julianus as Emperor...." 9 Corruption was widespread and made it even more difficult for the imperial government to retain control of its lands. To further complicate matters, after the death of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, civil wars broke out between different claimants to the imperial throne due to the lack of a clear succession policy. As political corruption and instability grew, Roman citizens’ trust and faith in the government waned, leading to more disorder and division in society. 10

This overall loss of the financial power and lack of trust and faith in its political leaders was furthered by the rise of Christianity in the Empire. As Christianity grew, it directly undermined the power of the emperor. Popes and other bishops began to assume more secular power, which further complicated the Roman power structure. As many began to convert to Christianity, polytheistic Roman religion fell from favor. 11 The emperor ceased to be viewed as divine, and the glories of the Roman state were forgotten while the glories of the heavenly Jerusalem were promoted. Pliny the Younger, a magistrate of Rome, calls Christianity a contagion and realizes its effect on the authority of the emperor. He writes to the emperor Trajan; "For many persons… are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that the [Roman] temples…had been almost deserted...." 12 Pliny's remarks are telling. Pliny is writing only in the first century; as the centuries passed on, the Church would rise in prominence as the Empire continued to crumble.

A decisive moment in the Empire's history was Diocletian's division of the empire. Realizing that the territory was too large for one man to rule, he split the Empire into East and West. 13 He remained emperor of the East while he appointed Marcus Aurelius Valerius emperor of the West. This separation, while effective in the beginning, led to only greater disorder in the Empire. Over time, East and West grew so far apart that they were unable to work together to protect their borders and solve financial crises. As the East grew in wealth, the West declined in health. As the East defeated its enemies, the enemies were only diverted to the Western Empire instead. 14 By splitting the empire, Diocletian saved the Eastern Empire, but at the cost of the West.

With Roman spirit weakened by financial crises, Christian influence, and political corruption and division, the barbarians slowly infiltrated the Roman Empire. First, they came to work on plantations due to the lack of slaves, then they came to fill in the gaps of the Roman legions, and finally they filled even political positions. Barbarian vigor and strength quickly spread and consumed the feeble, debilitated Roman people. Historian Eileen Powell writes that the Empire had "...a small injection to begin with and then more and more till in the end the blood that flowed in its veins was not Roman but barbarian." 15 As early as 98 A.D, historians such as Tacitus recognized this dangerous trend. Tacitus recounts the speech of Galgacus, an ancient barbarian leader, as he spurred on his troops. Galgacus says:

Do you suppose that the Romans will be as brave in war as they are [immoral] in peace? ...their own army, an army which, composed as it is of every variety of nations, is held together by success and will be broken up by disaster. These Gauls and Germans, and, I blush to say, these Britons, who, though they lend their lives to support a stranger's rule, have been its enemies longer than its subjects, you cannot imagine to be bound by [loyalty] and affection....16

Galgacus ridicules the Roman army, arguing that its soldiers have been enemies much longer than friends to the Romans. This infiltration of the barbarian people and mindset set the stage for the knockout blow to the Empire: the military conquests of the barbarians.

By the third century, the Goths, an aggressive Germanic tribe, had become the greatest threat to the Roman Empire. They and other Germanic tribes began to apply great pressure to the northern frontier marked by the Danube and Rhine Rivers. In 263 A.D, the Goths crossed the Danube River and overran much of the eastern provinces. 17 As the Romans reacted to the Goths, the Franks and Alemanni seized their chance to break through the Roman frontier as well. The Roman Emperor Aurelian, however, made a valiant stand and was able to hold off the Goths, Vandals, and a new threat from the East, the Sassanids. The increasing pressure from outside forces was largely due to the advance of the Huns. The advancing Huns sparked a great migration of many Germanic tribes into Roman territories. As the Huns advanced westward, they conquered and enslaved the Ostrogoths. The Visigoths and other Germanic tribes found themselves trapped between the advancing Huns to the west and the Roman Empire to the southeast. The Visigoths were much more frightened of the Huns and chose to request entrance into the Roman Empire. In 376 A.D, the Visigoths settled in the empire, but were soon mistreated and subjugated to arbitrary rule by Roman officials. The Visigoths pushed back and thus sparked the fateful battle of Adrianople.

The battle of Adrianople was a decisive win for the Visigoths who trampled the Roman Army and even killed the Roman Emperor Valens. A Roman soldier and historian, named Ammianus Marcellinus, writes:

But when the barbarians... beat down our horses and men ... At last one black pool of blood disfigured everything, and wherever the eye turned, it could see nothing but piled up heaps of dead, and lifeless corpses trampled on without mercy... the emperor ...was mortally wounded with an arrow, and, very shortly after, died, though his body was never found.18

This defeat dealt a massive blow to the reputation of the "invincible" Roman legions and showed the vulnerability of the Roman Empire. Valen's successor, Theodosius I, was able to hold the Visigoths back but only temporarily. 19 In 410 A.D, the Visigoths, invigorated by their king, Alaric, moved towards Rome and sacked the Eternal City. The Romans reacted to this threat by withdrawing troops from the Rhine River and from Britain. Their retreat, however, allowed unprecedented numbers of Germanic Barbarians to surge into the Roman Empire and overtake Britain, Spain, and North Africa. 20 In 455 A.D, the Vandals pushed north from the sea raiding Italy and sacking Rome a second time. Atilla the Hun also pushed deeper into Europe and plundered much of northern Italy. 21 Rome was spared, but just barely.

During the final days of the Western Roman Empire, a series of emperors fled Rome and ruled from the area surrounding the Italian city of Ravenna. By now, the emperors had lost much if not all of their political power; the leaders of the army, made up of mostly Germans, held the real power. The forced abdication and exile of Augustulus, the last emperor of the West, is seen as the traditional date of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, since no emperor was named to carry on the succession after him.

The Western Empire's fall, therefore, cannot be attributed only to the invasions of the barbarians or any other singular cause. The student of history must realize that the fall of the Empire was multifactorial and that each cause was related to and stemmed from the other. Just as a series of dominoes fall and knock each other over so did the various crises knock over the Roman Empire. Overexpansion led to a dependency on slaves and an obligation to protect more land. Slaves-labor and crushing taxes to fund such expansion and administration stifled economic growth and crippled Roman society. With these economic issues ablaze, political corruption took root, causing many to lose faith in the Roman institution. Then, with the rise of Christianity, a further rift grew between the people’s values and allegiances to the Roman government. During this time of disillusionment and crises, the barbarians slowly rose to power. They attacked from the outside in battles and skirmishes but also advanced from the inside through the Roman legions and political positions. The Western Roman Empire was not defeated nor destroyed; rather, it was infirmed for many years and in the year 476 A.D., finally collapsed and died. The fall of the Empire warns modern nations to be wary of internal crises. It also reminds nations to ensure that they do not lose their cultural or national identity as the Romans did. The Roman Empire was the most formidable and diverse nation of antiquity. The fall of the Empire is an eternal testimony to the destructive force and power of internal strife.

Bibliography

Andrews, Evan. "8 Reasons Why Rome Fell." History. January 14th, 2014. http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/8-reasons-why-rome-fell.
Black, Simon. "Taxes Brought Down The Roman Empire, And They'll Do The Same To America." Business Insider. April 18th, 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/all-transactions-to-be-conducted-in-the-presence-of-a-tax-collector-2012-4.
Galgacus. Speech to his soldiers, recorded by Roman historian Tacitus. In Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricola, 29-33 c. 98 A.D.
Heather, Peter. "The Fall of Rome." BBC. February 17th, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/fallofrome_article_01.shtml
Herodian of Syria. History of the Emperors II.6ff: "How Didius Julianus Bought the Empire at Auction." 193 A.D. In William Stearns Davis, ed. Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13, Vol. II: Rome and the West.
Jewsbury, George, Barbara Molony, and Matthew S. Gordon. Civilizations Past & Present, Combined Volume 12th Edition. New York: Pearson, 2007.
Marcellinus, Ammianus. The Battle of Handrianopolis 378 A.D. In The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus During the Reigns of The Emperors Constantius, Julian, Jovianus, Valentinian, and Valens, trans. C. D. Yonge London: G. Bell & Sons, 1911.
On Military Matters 368 A.D. In A Roman Reformer and Inventor. Translated by E.A. Thompson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952.
Pliny. Letters, "Letters of Pliny to Emperor Trajan." Translated by Wilham Melmoth. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Vol.11, pp. 401-05, 407. Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Loeb Classical Library.
Power, Eileen. Medieval People. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2000.
Southern, Pat. "Third Century Crisis of the Roman Empire." BBC. February 17th, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/thirdcenturycrisis_article_01.shtml

1. [Eileen Power, Medieval People (New York: Dover Publications, 2000), 2.]
2. [Pat Southern, “Third Century Crisis of the Roman Empire,” (BBC, February 17th, 2011). ]
3. [Evan Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” History, January 14th, 2014.]
4. [Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” January 14th, 2014.]
5. [On Military Matters 368 A.D. In A Roman Reformer and Inventor, translated by E.A. Thompson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), pp. 106.]
6. [Simon Black, “Taxes Brought Down The Roman Empire, And They'll Do The Same To America,” (Business Insider, April 18th, 2012).]
7. [Ibid.]
8. [Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” January 14th, 2014.]
9. [Herodian of Syria, History of the Emperors II.6ff: “How Didius Julianus Bought the Empire at Auction, 193 A.D. In William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West.]
10. [Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” January 14th, 2014.]
11. [Ibid.]
12. [Pliny, “Letters of Pliny to Emperor Trajan.” Translated by Wilham Melmoth, Cambridge, Mass.: (Harvard University Press) Vol.11, pp. 401.]
13. [Peter Heather, “The Fall of Rome,” (BBC, February 17th, 2011).]
14. [Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” January 14th, 2014.]
15. [Power, Medieval People, 4.]
16. [Galgacus, an ancient barbarian leader. Speech to his soldiers, recorded by Roman historian Tacitus. In Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricola, 29-33 c. 98 A.D.]
17. [George F. Jewsbury, Barbara Molony, and Matthew S. Gordon, Civilizations Past & Present, Combined Volume 12th Edition. (New York: Pearson, 2007), 155.]
18. [Ammianus Marcellinus, The Battle of Handrianopolis 378 A.D. In The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus During the Reigns of The Emperors Constantius, Julian, Jovianus, Valentinian, and Valens, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1911), pp. 609.]
19. [Andrews, “8 Reasons Why Rome Fell,” January 14th, 2014.]
20. [Ibid.]
21. [Jewsbury, Molony, and Gordon, Civilizations Past & Present, (New York: Pearson, 2007), 155.]



Photo Credit: Pablo Dodda
Brightness adjusted.


Scrabble pieces spelling resume
Why International College Students Should Include Scholarships on their Resumes
Whether you are a student coming from Tennessee or New Mexico, have a high school GPA of a 4.0 or a 2.5, whether you’re financially stable or you’re president of six clubs, everyone feels the scholarship struggle. Sure, it’s easier for some to find scholarships they qualify to apply for but the number of students who are actually able to fund a substantial amount of their college bill with someone else’s chump change is pretty diminutive.

Now imagine this scholarship struggle on steroids. The scholarship pool available to you is dismal, they’re worth less on average and most of your peers can’t get the money either. This is a very real scenario for international students. Getting a scholarship as a domestic student is a big accomplishment is big news, receiving a scholarship as an international student is more than challenging, it’s near impossible.

Why should international students include scholarships on their resumes?
The simple answer is because they‘re the perfect way to show off. Not only did you beat the odds and were granted admission to a college or university in the states, you were qualified enough for someone to believe in your academic ability and pay for it themselves. That’s something to flaunt and it is most definitely worth writing down on a resume so future employers or institutions may note your achievements.

How do you include a scholarship on a resume so it’s appropriate and professional?
They should be listed under honors/awards/accomplishments (whatever it’s titled that usually contains a list of titles or awards you’ve been granted). A date should be clarified following the name of the award for the dates the award will be received (ex. (2012-2013)). Some scholarships are more well-known than others so use your best judgement and determine whether a description is necessary. These will be necessary for specific school scholarships and smaller awards given out by private institutions. This description is most appropriately written as one line under the name of the award and date in a smaller font than that of the rest of the type.

Ultimately, receiving a scholarship in any case is quite an accomplishment but receiving a scholarship as an international student to a school in the states is even more so. It’s important to take pride in what you’ve done and been awarded. Writing your accomplishments on paper that will be legitimized by the eyes of an institution will be even more rewarding. Make sure you write it formally and professionally and you will be good to go.


Photo Credit: Flazingo Photos


Blackboard with chalk writing on it.
Top US Doctoral Programs for Foreign Students
Okay so, let me begin by saying that truth be told, highest ranking schools that offer Ph.D.s, M.D.s, and J.D.s can only be measured accurately in terms of the interested person’s educational program of choice (ex: law, medicine, etc), and without knowing this information it’s hard to start heading in the right direction. However, because it is known that the most commonly pursued doctorate is the Ph.D, we’ve lined up the best of the best American universities that offer it.

  1. Princeton University: Number one is no shocker. We’ve all heard this name hundreds and thousands of times in the same sentence as the words “top university”- Princeton is a household name. What’s so special about its Ph.D. program is that it holds immense opportunities for research, as well as a solid repertoire of over 40 degrees. Did I mention that you can combine your Ph.D. with another degree- oh I don’t know- perhaps an M.D.? Yep.

  2. Harvard University: And here goes another totally expected answer. Let’s see; if the 100+ research centers ON CAMPUS and the great faculty-student relationship don’t convince you of this place’s majesty, perhaps the alumni list will. (When it comes to success, you can’t beat “living proof.”)

  3. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor: This school has a lot going for it. Not only do they offer more than 100 Ph.D. degrees, but they also have three world class museums for you to dig up the past. How cool is that? Ann Arbor, the place it’s located at, is also bustling with life and offers a myriad of things to do (while you’re not up to your nose with books, that is).

  4. University of Washington- Seattle: In terms of Ph.D. studies, this is definitely a favourite. Perhaps it lacks Harvard’s countless research facilities (although it is very well stocked with them), but UW makes up for it in 11 million dollars worth of financial aid and scholarships for graduate students. Foreign students, take note.

  5. University of Wisconsin- Madison: Toping off all the other mentioned universities in this article, the University of Wisconsin at Madison offers and astounding cipher of more than 150 Ph.D. degrees. There’s, no doubt, a lot of room from which to choose from, so, for people pursuing more out-of-the-ordinary studies, this is your best shot.

  6. Northwestern University: Northwestern is the place to go if you believe in interdisciplinary ways of research. This university has perfected clusters of students that gather and conduct research together, despite being from different degrees, in order to expand areas of research and help students use each other in their studies. Also, it’s in Boston, so, that’s a plus.

  7. Columbia University: Like Princeton, Columbia University offers doctorate students a chance to combine a Ph.D. with either an M.D. or a J.D; this might not seem like a huge deal, but for many medical students, this option is highly valued and sought out for. So, this one’s for you buddies.

  8. University of Texas- Austin: UT has thirteen libraries. Thirteen. What more is there to say? Your research will be fruitful, and there’s no need to worry about not finding something, you can just look for at at another library- I’m sure it can be found.

  9. Stanford University: If having a Nobel laureate or a Pulitzer prize winner as a professor doesn’t entice you to come study here, you obviously don’t belong at Stanford. Offering a variety of Ph.D degree options, this school might just place you in a class with a life-changing individual (this is great news for your research!).



Photo Credit: geralt


World map with silhouette of various people on top
US College Essay Examples for International Students
When it comes to college essays, there’s no one way to tackle them. Because of every person’s individual identity, aspirations, and experiences, there are countless, if not infinite, different paths one could take: humorous, archaic, anecdotic, inspiring, you name it. The important thing to bear in mind when whipping out one of these babies is that universities are looking for uniqueness; it’s not enough to simply meet the requirements, one has to find a way to give college application reviewers something they didn’t even know they were looking for. International students, like me, will often tell you that college essays come with tremendous pressure, even more so than for in-state students, because these are the only thing that can make us stand out and win over one of the select spots at university held for students like us. For any of you out there looking for some guidance, don’t fret, here are some examples of what you can do:

  1. The classic “I’ve lived amongst diverse cultures and hence am a citizen of the world that’s dedicated to erasing the lines separating human kind” stunt: This is a no brainer, simply use your internationality to your advantage. Let me let you in on a little secret: colleges LOVE people that have lived a variety of lives (and by that I mean you); not only does it imply that you hold a certain respect for the majesty of variety, but it also lets the reviewer know that you are aware of what’s happening in the world. The problem with writing one of these essays is that it is of great popularity amongst international students, so you run the risk of amalgamating into the crowd, and for it to be successful it’s vital to find a way to differentiate from the rest. The upside however, is the same thing. If you chose to write this type of essay, it’s almost guaranteed the review board will like it if it’s even the slightest bit dissimilar to that of others- in other words, it’s easy to stand out with this one.

  2. The “I’ve seen the world and I conclude the best fit for me is the United States” stunt: This one is a bit trickier. You want to say that, but not really say that. The trick lies in highlighting how positive and enriching the international experience was for you, while humbly stating that the education system in the States is simply more compatible with your learning process. If done right, this essay can be a home run. Because of the subtle, yet noticeable listing of compatibilities between the US colleges and you, the reviewers will be able to tell that you chose that school specifically and that you know exactly what you want from it, not to mention what you plan on contributing to it.


These are only two of the techniques that you can incorporate into your US college essay if you’re an international student. Because of their broad nature it’s particularly easy to make each of these your own, just remember that the important part is to be yourself- there’s only one of you, and colleges want to get a sense of that. Make them feel like you’re one of a kind and they’d be missing out if they declined your application, that’s the only way you’ll be guaranteed an acceptance. If you make a list of all the attributes you possess, with a special emphasis on those that pertain to your internationality, and start the essay with time to spare, there’s no way of telling just how many schools will be all over you.


Photo Credit: Geralt


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