International Student College Admissions Are Getting Hit by the Trump Effect

Is it hard to be accepted into UCLA as an international student? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Vielka Hoy, Founder and CEO at Vielka Hoy Consulting, on Quora:

I have been working on quite a few things lately related to international students, and recent news about UC international admissions is really important to that analysis. The short answer is that it is and isn’t difficult to be admitted to the UCs as an international student.

The isn’t…

The reason people are critical about international admissions to the UCs (Berkeley, San Diego, and LA particularly) is because they tend to accept a lot of international students. These schools are also not able to fund many international students with public monies, and with some schools being broke, they have become dependent on the tuition from international students and that is way higher than what in-state students are paying. Many universities are pretty real about saying they are not need-blind when it comes to international admissions, so if you can prove you have the loot, you are probably going to fair well in any US university, including the UCs.

The is…

These schools are becoming more and more selective each year. An international student could get fully-funded at say, Cal Tech…but then you have to get into Cal Tech. I also believe there are fewer resources available for students to prove they are academically competitive when they are coming from certain countries such as access to testing centers for the SAT.

Also, the UCs are very context-dependent in admissions, meaning you have to be able to prove how great you are among your peers. It is much harder to do that when you are coming from schools the admissions folks have no idea about. So compared to students coming from high schools in the state, or in the country, international students have a lot more to prove.

Finally, there is a big elephant in the room and it’s called “travel ban.” While the most recent iteration allows students with a visa to come and go, people are obviously nervous, especially considering the qualifier, most recent. We have seen that recently with what we are apparently calling “Trump Effect. Where that shows up in admissions is my assumption that just as schools are not need-blind, they will also not be visa-blind. In many instances, universities are asked to divulge who their international and undocumented students are. UCLA is also a public university, and while we have a lot backing from some especially adamant and well-positioned anti-Trumpers, I think it would be naive to not at least assume some impact for the students who currently attend, and those who may attend, our public universities.

My suggestion is that you keep your eye out for how schools are responding to the travel ban on their websites. If your heart is set on UCLA, I would also just call them and ask what they anticipate the impact of the travel ban will be on admissions.

I think either way, we are in a political climate right now that forces everyone to think differently about just about everything we do in our daily lives. When I was in college, it was fun to think about studying abroad. Now, it seems uncomfortable, to say the least, as we are placed in a context that forces us to question our neighbors or wonder what the country will be like when we return, regardless of where we sit politically. To be even more personal, my parents, aunts, and uncles came to this country so that we could have a great education because regardless of how the US could be characterized (e.g. imperialist, racist, sexist, classist) one thing we never questioned was the great education one could get. And between myself and my cousins, we’ve covered every UC except UC Merced and that’s only because it wasn’t around at the time. It’s sad to me that the hope the US public university once represented has gone away with each price hike and election.

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