Topic #YouAreWelcomeHere and US Higher Education
Date November 20, 2017
Tags, , ,

#YouAreWelcomeHere and US Higher Education with Jessica Sandberg

Jessica Sandberg is the Director of international admissions at Temple University in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. She is also an active NAFSA (Association of International Educators) and AIRC (American International Recruitment Council) member.
In 2016, she started the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign to promote US higher ed to international students. The campaign is a welcome message from U.S. higher education to international students around the world. It is  designed to affirm that the institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to student development. “You are welcome here” demonstrates the support internationalization across campus communities and across the country.


On the 20th of November 2017, Jessica hosted a live q&a session on Goodwall talking about the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign as well as Temple university. The session was joined by 121 students from around the world.

"One of the best parts about U.S. study is the choice and flexibility you get."

Is SAT a compulsory exam to enter universities in the US? —Colette

In most cases, you will need the SAT or ACT to apply for undergraduate studies in the US. Generally speaking, U.S. universities require your official secondary academic records (including any external exams you’ve taken), a personal essay, 1 or more recommendation letters, and the results of the SAT or ACT exam. Some schools also require the results of the TOEFL or IELTS exam for non-native speakers of English. Be sure to start early! Most universities begin reviewing applications almost a year in advance. For info about where to take the SAT:

Is the TOEFL compulsory for native English speakers as well? —Angelina

The TOEFL is a test of English for non-native speaker so it is not compulsory for Americans.

Can you please give us information on scholarships? —Maria

Some schools will provide it based on financial need.Temple offers merit scholarships to international students ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 annually.

Can you please tell us a bit about the impact of the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign? —Vijay

The #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign was developed a year ago to demonstrate how much U.S. colleges value having international students on their campuses.

Are there major specific scholarships for example, engineering scholarships in the USA? —Omar

I do not know of any scholarships specific to that major. In most cases at the undergraduate level, universities determine scholarships based on your academic background and not on your choice of major.

How do you write a good application essay? —Stela

For advice about choosing a major or writing a college essay. I strongly recommend consulting with the EducationUSA office in your country. The advisors are incredibly knowledgeable about U.S. universities and will provide assistance at no charge.

In South Africa our term only ends in November, so if I were to apply with my final transcript would it not be too late? —Radzilani

Most universities will make a decision based on your earlier results. The offer of admission would be contingent on your June results. Hope that helps. As for general admissions requirements,  U.S. universities typically require your official secondary academic records (including any external exams you’ve taken), a personal essay, 1 or more recommendation letters, and the results of the SAT or ACT exam. Some schools also require the results of the TOEFL or IELTS exam for non-native speakers of English.

What can I do to prepare for the SAT exams? —Abdikadir

To prep for the SAT, I recommend doing practice tests online to familiarize yourself with the format. You may not find it necessary to take a prep course. It is meant to be a general knowledge test.

What should I do if SAT testing stations are not available near me? —Hannah

I would consult with the EducationUSA office in your country for advice. They may know of online centers or ACT option.

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Here is some scholarship information:

Scholarships are usually tied to academic merit and not country of origin but, yes, there are certainly universities who offer generous scholarships to students of exceptional academic talent.  It’s important to inquire with each school because many will have separate criteria and deadlines for scholarship consideration.

What kind of portfolio is required for applying to US? —Anastasia

Check with individual schools for portfolio requirements.  Many schools offer awards for strong portfolios but they are typically smaller ones that come in addition to merit or aid offered from the admissions office.

Can you give me more information about the biology courses offered at Temple? —Nandini

Temple has a biology program and many professional medical schools –Medicine, Dentistry, Physical Therapy, Nursing. We also have an academic hospital attached to the university.

What do you consider as a 'strong portfolio'? —Anastasia

I leave art assessment to the experts! But seriously, it is usually art faculty that would determine a student’s level of talent. Admissions staff wouldn’t try to guess.

If you are an international student can you still work in America after graduation? —Deborah

Yes, the US allows international students to work for 1 year after graduation. It is called OPT. STEM students can often work longer.

Aside from academic success, how important are cas activities when applying for universities? —Ceren

Outside of academics, we are interested in students who will contribute to life on campus –so activities count –especially leadership roles. However, I must say that we place the MOST emphasis on academics. You might have guessed that.

If I studied in the U.K., could I get into US universities with A-levels? —Jasmine

Yes, A-Levels are recognized in the U.S. Many schools offer advanced credit. Here’s Temple’s policy:

Are there some scholarships for students who don't manage to pay the courses and the accommodation? Maybe job opportunities. —Teodor

Good question. In the U.S., international students can work if the job is on-campus, up to 20 hours a week. This is a good way to supplement living expenses –like pizza on the weekend!

If your curriculum culminates in A-level exams, an Abiter, CXCs, WAECs, etc, a U.S. university will want to see the results. In some cases, national exams may be considered for advanced credit which can shorten the length of your degree and save you time and money.

Is there any chance for me to do medicine college in the USA being a brazilian student? Do you have any advices for me? —Heitor

Medicine is studied at the graduate level after a bachelor’s degree is earned. Some medical schools have restrictions on international enrollment so you will need to research each one.

May you please name some international accreditations we can earn to increase our possibilities to get scholarships? —Michael

Most merit admissions scholarships will be determined by your GPA (which includes any national/external exams you’ve taken) and results of SAT or ACT. We don’t give preference to one country or credential over another.

What chance does an individual stand at getting accepted to US universities with a low SAT score? —Kcaliphate

That can be quite tough. Your best bet is to ensure you have a strong academic record from your high school and on any national exams taken in Liberia. I also recommend doing some practice SAT testing online and then retaking it to try for a better score. If your score is low ONLY in verbal, you might consider taking a TOEFL exam, even if English is your primary language. The SAT verbal questions are written for American speakers and can be misleading.

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Final my advice:

The cost of higher education in the U.S. can be quite expensive and students should consider the cost of living, annual transportation, and books in addition to tuition fees. However, costs vary tremendously and some schools are able to offer generous scholarship discounts to students with exceptional academic abilities. For example, many international students find that community colleges can be an affordable way to begin their undergraduate education in the U.S. before transferring and finishing their degree at a more expensive university.  It’s best to do your research and plan ahead.

Topic #YouAreWelcomeHere and US Higher Education
Date November 20, 2017
Tags, , ,