National vs. International College Apps: What’s best for you?

Elizabeth Cheadle, Staff Writer

Decision day is just around the corner for seniors! By May 1st most seniors are expected to have submitted a deposit to whatever college or university they plan on attending. Whether it be Harvard or Red Rocks Community College, seniors have a few days left to make a decision that will alter their lives forever. One exception to this deadline is if a senior applied internationally. Almost every country in the world approaches college applications in its own unique way. Some countries are on completely different time schedules than the United States and require very different qualifications for incoming freshmen.

Here in the US, the most commonly used application portal is Common App. Students can use the portal to apply to almost every university in America. A college essay is expected, as are some possible supplemental essays for certain schools. Admissions teams will also want to see any extracurricular activities, jobs, or hobbies you may have participated in. On top of your most recent transcripts, a lot of additional information is added to the application. In many other countries around the world, this is not the case.

I have personally gone through the process of applying to universities in Australia, and am here to tell you that the application process is VERY different. One of the biggest differences is the acceptance itself into the university. Here in America, it is allowed for a student to apply to a school without knowing what major they want to study. Students can go into university with their selected major being “undecided”. In Australia, going into a university “undecided” does not exist. When you apply to a university, you apply to a specific course(s) and will be assessed on your ability to succeed in that specific course. One university may accept you into multiple courses, and then you will get to choose which course you think you are best suited for.

The actual application process has some major differences as well. In the US, students are expected to include essays, work/volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, etc… It can take a good amount of time to fully complete an application. In Australia, you are simply required to present your high school transcripts and SAT scores, taking a total of 10 minutes. That’s it. This can have its pros and cons…A pro is that if you haven’t written a good essay, or been that active of a student at your school, then you are good to go. A con is that you don’t have any “fluff” to help boost up your application. If your grades aren’t good you don’t get the chance to justify that. None of that matters to Australian admissions officers- they solely want to see your academic merit.

Another difference is in the US the traditional school year always starts in August. With the exception of a few universities, students applying to American universities should expect to be starting their studies in August or early September. In Australia, every university has a start date in February (high school graduation is in February) and a mid-year intake in either June or July. Some universities have a third start date in September allowing for students to have more flexibility on when they want to start their studies. 

Both application processes have their ups and downs. No matter where you apply, it can be a very stressful and overwhelming process. I personally think it is good to apply anywhere where you think you might be happy and to keep your options open. It doesn’t hurt to apply to a good amount of schools (especially when there are no application fees) and see where the acceptance letters lead you. As seniors finalize their college decisions, and start saying their goodbyes to Holy Family, it is time for incoming juniors and seniors to start thinking about where they would like to apply!