Tag Archives: college

Nationality and College Admissions

I recently received this comment from a reader regarding nationality and college admissions:

“My education is [nationality] and it makes me feel insecure.”

Some countries are well-known for their great education systems, and others less so. You could be Malaysian, Portuguese, Moroccan, Syrian or Mexican. The exact nationality isn’t important. The question remains the same:

Should your nationality make you feel insecure about your college application?

And put another way: Should being from a country with excellent educational statistics grant you the right to feel confident?

As one of my all-time favorite quotes goes:

“Talent is universal. Opportunity is not.”

I always thought it was Hillary Clinton who said this. However, a frenzied Google search is making me second guess that. (I’d be grateful if any reader wants to investigate that one, but regardless of who said it it’s an excellent quote).

University admissions boards should understand that not everyone has the same opportunities.

Frankly, if you went to school in a wealthy neighborhood public school in the United States and weren’t president, vice president or secretary of at least one student club, then you’re probably not going to get into an ivy league school.

But if you are a bacha posh girl who grew up dressing as a boy just so that you could attend school in Afghanistan, then you probably weren’t trying to garner extra attention by running for student body president. Moreover, nobody would expect it of you. And it shouldn’t affect your admissions decision for college.

Some people are given a silver spoon at birth. Not just in terms of money, but also in terms of opportunity.

Universities want to accept the best and brightest. But they should also understand that it’s easy to be smart and accomplished when you have everything going for you since birth.

Any college where international relations or humanitarian issues are taught (or really economics or politics at all, for that matter) should be intimately aware of the disparities that exist between countries. More importantly, they shouldn’t discriminate based on nationality.

But do they?

Sciences Po claims that it doesn’t. In fact, like many other universities, Sciences Po strives to have a multicultural student body with individuals from many nationalities and many socioeconomic groups. Yet, there’s a caveat:

Malcolm Gladwell (author of Blink) has a new podcast out called Revisionist History. I highly recommend it to absolutely everyone.

In particular, he has a wonderful episode called “Carlos Doesn’t Remember.” (It’s free by the way!) In this episode, Gladwell talks about how the American school system isn’t truly a meritocracy. Even though universities accept students based on merit, that “merit” is often a direct result of a student’s socioeconomic status. A child from a wealthier family will have more opportunities throughout childhood, and will therefore likely have more “merit” when it comes time to apply to college.

In other words, they might accept a bacha posh girl, but she would first have to apply and, second, at least need to make a certain minimum score on her college entrance exams. But she isn’t likely to have the forethought or resources to do that given the struggle she went through just to get a basic education.

Although Gladwell focuses specifically on the American education system, the same can probably said for most well-known universities throughout the world– Sciences Po, London School of Economics, etc.

Here’s the good news for you:
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably going to apply to college. You probably also have a decent college entrance exam score. And that means you have the upper hand.

If you have taken advantage of the opportunities that are available to you and– very important– can express that to the admissions committee, then your nationality and the school you attended should not make you feel insecure.

As far as larger life lessons go:

Regardless of whether or not you get accepted to your dream school, if you worked hard for your accomplishments then you should be proud of them.

Ultimately, the most important thing isn’t your nationality or your school’s ranking. Rather, it’s showing what you can do with the education and opportunities that you’ve had.

Private and Public Colleges: How to Decide What’s Best for You

In nearly every country, private and public colleges are different. In the United States, deciding what’s best requires a dynamic look at issues of cost, prestige, and overall fit.

  1. Cost

On average, private colleges are more expensive than public ones. However, averages can be deceptive.

  Average Price Information
  Tuition and Fees* Debt per Borrower**
Public School $23,893 $26,872
Private School $32,405 $31,710

*2015-16 data from CollegeBoard. Public school statistics for out-of-state students.

**2016 data from lendedu.com

Private schools charge nearly $10,000 more per year. However, average debt per borrower is only about $5,000 more. In part, this is due to the misleading nature of sticker prices– scholarships and grants often make posted tuition rates irrelevant.

Prices also greatly depend on the individual school. Berea College in Kentucky, for example, is a private school that is completely tuition-free!

Before deciding that a private school is too expensive for you, research its actual price and investigate potential scholarships.

  1. Prestige

Students often make the mistake of thinking that private U.S. colleges are more prestigious. This is in part because of the fame of the “ivy leagues,” a group of private schools that include Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

You will find, however, that there are also many prestigious public colleges…

Read the whole article on college.edu.sg

The Five-Point Resume Check

Think you’re ready to send off your CV? Take a second and scan the five-point resume check:

1. Is the formatting consistent?

You can choose out of hundreds of different acceptable styles for your resume, but the formatting needs to stay the same throughout the document. If you bold job titles and italicize company names, do it throughout. If one date reads 09/15/2016, the other should not read to Sept. or Sep. or September.

2. Does it fill up the page?

A resume should be one or two pages, depending on how much experience you have. It should not be 1.5 pages or half a page or one page with a second blank page that will inevitably spit out the printer should the recruiter decide to press print.

3. Is anything misspelled?

Microsoft Word offers a spell check, so there is no excuse for blatantly misspelled words in a resume. Of course, there are always inconsistencies that even spell check can’t grasp (especially since resumes have a tendency to use abbreviations and the like). So, ask an attentive friend to read through your work.

4. Do your bullet points use verbs?

Bullet points that describe your duties at a past job should use active, past-tense verbs. For example: generated seed money, wrote a successful grant proposal. Trying to make grammatically correct sentences will only make your document seem too long. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t use “I.”

5. Is it easy to read?

If everything else seems okay, ask a friend to quickly scan your resume. What pops out? What grabs the eye? How long does it take them to spot your education? Your most relevant work experience?

Learn about how I can give your personalized help with your resume!


Read more of my blogs about College Admissions topics.
The US College Personal Statement
Five Ways to De-Stress before a College Interview
Sciences Po: 4 Tips for Writing Your Motivation Letter
The Argument for the Gap Year