Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Prior College Coursework & University Applications

Quite a number of international students come to DVC having attended a college or university in their home country. When it comes time to apply for transfer from DVC to a university, such students often fail to report their prior college coursework, for various reasons. Some have the mistaken notion that foreign college coursework is not valid in the U.S. Others believe that, since they are studying a major that is different from their former program of study in their country, their prior foreign college coursework is irrelevent. And others, like many U.S. students, did not do well academically their first year in college, so they do not want their grades to affect their admissibility to a U.S. university.

Whatever the case may be, transfer applicants are REQUIRED by the universities to report ALL college-level coursework completed, whether in the U.S. or in another country. Failure to report all prior college coursework can result in the student's application becoming invalid. There have even been cases where a student got admitted to a university, but when the authorities of that university discovered that the student had failed to report prior college coursework, the student's offer of admissions was rescinded, or taken back.

So one may ask, How would the university know that I completed college coursework in my country if I do not report it on the application? The application asks the applicant to account for each semester after high school completion until the time of the application. Any breaks in the student's academic history...a semester or two or three, for example...will raise flags of suspicion, and university admissions officers may ask the applicant to provide documentation to prove what the applicant states on the application. For example, if the applicant reported that s/he was working, the university may ask to see copies of payroll receipts for those dates to verify the employment.

The best advice is for each applicant to be completely thorough and honest on their application. College admissions is as much art as it is science. Of course, the universities are looking for strong academic achievement demonstrated by a high GPA, but they are also looking for much, much more than mere numbers. They want students who are leaders, who show community-mindedness, who overcame challenges and obstacles in their lives to succeed academically and personally. A bad first year in a college in another country can actually be turned into something positive, especially if the student's academic performance since then clearly demonstrates that the student is capable of doing well.

The old adage "Honesty is the best policy" holds true when it comes to university admissions applications. Put all of who you are and what you've done out on the table for the universities to see. Your accomplishments will shine even brighter next to challenges and obstacles that you may have faced earlier and overcome successfully.