Applying to schools outside the U.S. puts students in driver’s seat

Last year’s applicants reflect on their journey through the foreign admissions process


The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh, a top destination among U.K. schools, is also a popular choice for students looking for a school outside the country

In a time when many universities are operating remotely, studying abroad may not even cross students’ minds. Some alumni, however, did not let 2020’s pandemic stop them from applying and enrolling in universities outside the U.S.

Getting a visa, keeping track of the different application deadlines, and emailing with admissions officers in different time zones are difficult tasks in normal times. With the global pandemic on top of that, last spring’s international admissions applicants say they found the process even more challenging. 

While the process can feel overwhelming at times, Post High School Counseling does support students, though they are limited in what they offer to students who apply to schools outside the country. The department’s connection to schools abroad is not as strong as it is to domestic universities because the majority of  students go to schools in the country.

“There is still the data [on foreign schools], it’s just that we might not have a direct contact,” said PHSC counselor Kristen Graf. “[International admissions] just takes a bit more careful planning on the student end.” 

Briana Hinrichs, a 2020 graduate studying music at the University of Edinburgh, said she was not able to get as much help as she wanted from her college counselor because of the pandemic.  

Hinrichs said that the assistance she got was minimal compared to what domestic admissions applicants were offered.

“The college counselors are all very familiar with the Common App,” said Hinrichs. “I wish there had been as much support [for foreign admissions applicants] as there was for people using the Common App.”

While Hinrichs worked on her application with little assistance,  graduates like Noah Lolli, a first-year student at the University of Oxford, had fewer difficulties with the resources through the PHSC Department. 

“I actually found New Trier did a really good job with helping with the international admissions process,” said Lolli. However, he understands some of the Post High School Counseling Department’s limitations.

“There are obviously difficulties, even for New Trier’s counselors, because not many students apply to overseas schools,” Lolli said. “You have to be emailing admissions officers, emailing departments, and talking with your counselor very actively.”

Like Lolli, Xariah Chase acknowledges that the counseling she received could only go so far. She recently started studying Urban and Intercultural Ministry at Redeemer University in Ontario.

“College admissions helped with general support,” said Chase. “Because Redeemer is in Canada, there is only so much they could do.”

Hinrichs, Lolly and Chase are part of a wave of students, not just from the U.S. but all around the world, that is expected to grow to a full 8 million in the next five years, according to the International Consultants for Education and Fairs. 

Regardless of whether the current foreign admissions assistance is adequate, post high school counselors all around the country will expand their international reach if this upward trend keeps up.