Q: What are some tips for international students to keep in mind and how are they evaluated compared to U.S. students?
A: Three things matter for U.S.-aspiring international students.
Extracurricular activities matter more than you think. U.S. colleges look for well-rounded students and grades are not enough. Showcase anything you've done outside of classes, from volunteering to work part time, or playing an instrument.
SAT scores matter. Unless you studied an internationally recognized curriculum, odds are that universities will have a hard time interpreting what your transcripts mean. Whether they admit it or not, schools will use the SATs to evaluate whether you have the academic chops to be at that school.
Finally, do well on the TOEFL or IELTS exams. International students' English-speaking abilities are scrutinized because it affects how well you can participate in class and keep up with the work. Universities want to know that you are an advanced English speaker.