Preparing for career college in the USA involves both academic and personal preparation.
International students applying directly from high school to a career college in the USA should begin planning early, since career colleges--or particular programs within a college--can be competitive.
Academic preparation means making sure you have the necessary courses and grades to be accepted into the career college you want. This will largely depend on the program you hope to apply to. For instance, depending on whether you are considering engineering technology, applied business, naturopathic medicine or culinary and hospitality, your entrance requirements will be different. Communication skills are important in any field, and English and math are the most-often required courses for admission into career colleges in the USA. Quota or other limited-enrollment and highly competitive programs may require a particular grade point average and more specific course requirements.
Career colleges in the US usually require international students to demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction (i.e., English), if it is not their first/native language. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is commonly accepted, but colleges in the USA may have their own tests or evaluation procedures, or may accept other English tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). Confirm language requirement details with the college before you apply.
Career college websites or admissions offices are the best sources of academic preparation information. Be sure to read up on specific application requirements (reports and transcripts, document translation requirements, letters of recommendation, personal essays, portfolio, etc). Preparing for career college in the USA also means getting your paperwork completed and organized (read more in our Student Visas section).
Personal: In addition to academic preparation, there's a lot you can do in your home country to prepare personally.
Get more familiar with English if it is not your first language: read English-language books, magazines or newspapers (either print or online); watch English TV or films; practice your conversation with any English- speaking friends you may know. To improve the vocabulary and comprehension skills for your program, do some reading in the area you hope to study in the language you will be studying in the US.
Career colleges are interested in an applicant's ability to succeed in the program. Therefore, any experience you can get in your proposed area of study--especially if it is a hands-on program--is extremely beneficial.
Contact other international students who are or have been studying in the US. Many American career colleges accept international students, and can put you in touch with an international student who can share his or her experience and advice on what to expect and how best to prepare.
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