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International students: What you need to know about GRE Scores and Scholarships

If you're preparing for the GRE, chances are good that you're seriously considering graduate school. But graduate school doesn't come cheap—it can run you tens of thousands of dollars per year, not including living expenses. Don't give up your dreams of that Master's degree just yet, though! There's good news: if you have a strong score on the GRE exam, you put yourself in the running for lots of great financial opportunities. Here are just a few…

University-Based Scholarships
While it's important to realize that the organization that administers the GRE (ETS, in case you were wondering) doesn't give out scholarships itself, that doesn't mean that there aren't other routes to getting more funding. The first place to look is your university and the program to which you've applied or been admitted. Universities often use GRE scores as a major criterion to determine how much scholarship money you'll receive.

However, as with most scholarships relating to the GRE, the scores aren't usually sufficient to get you money on their own. Instead, the school may take them into consideration in combination with your grades, letters of recommendation, or even actual scholarship applications. Yes—keep in mind that you may not be automatically considered for some scholarships, even from universities. These require separate applications and can take some time to put together; it's a good idea to look into this well in advance of enrollment.


University-Based Funding
While not as prestigious as a scholarship, funding is nothing to turn up your nose at! The difference is that while scholarships usually come without strings (other than a thank-you letter to the donor and/or selection committee!) funding can require that you teach a class, work as a research assistant, or otherwise contribute in a specific way to the university.

So how do you get this money? Usually, universities will automatically consider graduate applicants for funding—but not always. Check with admissions departments at the schools to which you're applying. In many cases, great GRE scores can help you secure it, as funding in many departments is extremely limited and those scores can help you stand out.

Organizational Scholarships
Organizational funding is one reason that it's important to scout out GRE test dates early: while many of your programs and university-based scholarship applications are probably due around the same time, independent organizations can set deadlines whenever they want to, and strong GRE scores may be required for these scholarships—and can help you land them. Don't put off looking into them; while the requirements for organizations' scholarships can be extremely specific, this source of funding can be extremely lucrative.


And don't rule organizational scholarships out if you don't meet the requirements for some of them! Instead, search for scholarships targeting students with your unique characteristics.

Here are just a few examples…

If you're a college athlete, you may qualify for a scholarship from the NCAA or the Walter Byers Scholarship Program. If you're a Methodist, you may qualify for a World Communion Scholarship. If you're African-American or Hispanic and going to school in Florida, look into the Florida Education Fund. If you received your undergraduate degree from a small-to-medium liberal arts college, the American Graduate Fellowship may be for you. If you have visual impairment, check out the American Foundation for the Blind. If you are a new American citizen, look into the P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Government Programs
Nope, I'm not talking about student loans. Instead, look into particular U.S. government branches' programs to explore their offerings. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy offers a graduate fellowship program for students in STEM subjects. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Education offers a fellowship program for students in other fields (social sciences, the arts, and humanities).
A Final Word
A strong GRE score can definitely give you a boost in your scholarship applications. Taking a GRE practice test weekly and working through lessons and question sets can definitely help you get where you want to be. Remember that while your GRE scores aren't the only factor that will help you reel in money for grad school, they are an important component of your application—and one that you can influence now!


About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is a High School and Graduate Exams blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She has taught test preparation and consulted on admissions practices for over eight years. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London.

International students - Need help? It may be close by

There are resources on every university campus that help students with their studies or any questions they may have or challenges they may be facing. Libraries, tutoring centers, career counseling and more are all available for students. If you are having a problem or have any questions there is usually a place for you to go right on your campus. Additionally, there are events or places to go specifically for international students who have any questions. All you have to do is search through your school's website or call the main office for information on where or when you can find these resources on your campus.

As an international student, your first important step is not to miss the orientation day. Important information will be given to you: buildings locations, processes, useful contacts and security information. You will also get in touch with most of the other international students who will be with you on campus. This is a great way to get to meet other students and create your support network.
Library
Many universities have a library with meeting rooms, access to school databases, computer labs and obviously books for assignments or pleasure. The libraries on university campuses are great places to study and get work done if you need a quiet place to work. Also, if you have group projects for classes and or you just need a quiet place to work with a group you can usually find meeting rooms at the library designated for this purpose.
Tutoring
On university campuses you can find tutoring sessions and testing centers where you can get help with work you are not understanding or tests you have to make up. There is also additional help for a variety of reasons, if you need more time for tests and so on due to learning disabilities. Take advantage of these tutors, especially as international students you are trying to save money and these resources are usually free or at least cheap. Not to mention if you want to make some extra money or volunteer you can work as a tutor on your university campus.

Connecting with other students
On campus, international students tend to hang out together, and it is a great source of help. Still, do not forget international students who are a year ahead of you, or in another program. They can be of a great help given the fact that not long ago, they faced the same challenges. On many campuses, international students are also organized in students clubs or have an office to help new arrivals and organize international events (sometimes called an “International House”). Do not miss this opportunity to get good tips from these students. You can also use our online coaching platform at GradTrain to get help from mentors who were also international students in the past few years.

Remember, moving to study abroad is an exciting, yet challenging experience. In many cases you may miss the resources that can help you, that are right under your nose. Take advantage of the resources mentioned here and your adjustment to life abroad will be much easier.

Need more help with planning your studies, internships and the steps following graduation?

7 Ways to get Positively Noticed as a Graduate School Applicant by Dr. Don Martin

When attempting to accomplish anything important in life, there are many do’s and don’ts.  When it comes to applying for graduate school abroad, the don’ts can profoundly affect the likelihood of being accepted. However, even more important are the do’s.

Over more than three decades as a graduate school admissions dean, I witnessed dozens of positive steps taken by applicants. Of these, seven particular and simple steps, beyond the preparation of applications that all candidates undertake, will help you get positively noticed by the admissions committee.


1.  Carefully consider and prepare for your first contact.
For better or worse, it is not a cliché: first impressions are lasting and take a long time to change. At some point you will engage in a first contact with the admissions office. Whether via email, phone or in person, it is critical to make sure you do everything possible to plan and prepare your first outreach. As you do, focus on leaving a lasting positive impression. After that first contact, take the time to send a hand-written thank you note. Despite an “instant messaging” world, a hand-written note really stands out and is a great way to positively reinforce your initial interaction.
2.  Follow directions.
This cannot be overstated. Do what you are asked to do—no more, no less. If you have a legitimate question about an application requirement, ask. But please do not assume. One’s ability to follow directions sends a very positive message and allows a candidate to move through the application review process without the unwanted attention many applicants receive simply because they did not do as instructed.
3.  Choose recommenders who really know you.
While submitting a letter of recommendation from someone famous or a prominent graduate may seem like an impressive strategy, if these individuals do not really know you the impact is entirely lost. Your best approach with recommenders is to ask someone who knows you very well, has been associated with you for at least a year, and can point to and validate specific personal, professional and academic qualities that make you stand out.
4.  Smile.
A smile is part of the universal language. It is simple, easy to do and can make a huge difference. When meeting any of the admissions staff or even speaking on the phone, smile. It sounds so simplistic, but it works. It helps lessen nervousness, lightens the moment, and makes personal interactions more relaxed. It also demonstrates that you are a nice person. And believe me, admissions folks, like all of us, respond positively to nice people.
5.  Stay calm and keep your cool, always.
Admissions personnel are not perfect. They sometimes make mistakes. It is not altogether uncommon for certain elements of one’s application to be misfiled or disappear. This is obviously not deliberate, nor is it a test.  Given the amount of time one takes to prepare an application, and even more, if the institution is one’s first choice, it would be easy become unraveled if something goes wrong. But do not let that happen.

Keep your cool and see it as an opportunity to practice handling disappointment and the mistakes of others, which you’ll undoubtedly be doing throughout your life. Be appreciative and positive. Do your part to correct the situation as soon as possible. Believe me, when application issues arise, admissions staffers often receive quite negative reactions from applicants. So remain calm and responsive. It will help you stand out in a very positive way.


6.  Demonstrate that you did your homework.
In American universities, graduate school students, staff and faculty have great pride in their institutions and expect the same from applicants. Showing that you have a broad understanding of the institution, the program, and the application process will make a positive difference.

One excellent way to impress and demonstrate due diligence is familiarizing yourself with faculty research. Select one or two faculty members with whom you would like to study and review their published research. When communicating with decision-makers or faculty, be prepared to discuss elements of their expertise in appropriate context. Demonstrating that you cared enough to explore academic information of this depth at this stage in the process, and can discuss it intelligently, will make a strong impression.
7.  You want in. So, let them know.
Let the admissions committee know you want to attend. If a program is honestly among your top choices, or your number-one choice, it is perfectly acceptable to let the admissions office know that. But here is a critical tip: when you do, be prepared to explain what you believe you bring to the table as an applicant. Provide specific and relevant reasons that illustrate the match. Also, focus on issues that are important and highly valued by that institution. Remember, the application process is a relationship-building exercise. Therefore, begin the relationship motivated not only by the value the program gives you, but also by the value you bring to the program.
All the best with your graduate school application(s)!
Dr. Don Martin, Ph.D., is a higher education enrollment expert, author, and former admissions dean at Columbia University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Wheaton College.   For additional tips on the graduate school application process, visit gradschoolmap.com.

The complete guide to buying your first car in the U.S

As an international student, expat or international professional in the US, your options for securing a car loan with reasonable rates are limited—let alone being able to buy your first car. Many foreigners relocating to the US need a vehicle to go to class, work or simply need to commute on a daily basis, but due to their lack of credit history buying their first car can be difficult. Today, international students and expats can rely on car loan providers such as Lendbuzz, but a comprehensive understanding of financing is still important when buying your first car.
Whether you’re searching for car loans, auto financing solutions or the lowest auto loan rates possible, you’ve come to the right place. Below is your guide to buying your first car in the US.

Step One: The Importance of Building Credit History
As an international student with no credit history or SSN, you will need to understand the difficulties that lie ahead when purchasing a vehicle in the U.S. A lack of U.S. credit history leads to limited options for taking out any loan, specifically a car loan. Having thin credit history leaves you with few car loan options, where you will most likely have to accept high interest rates or even have to lease a vehicle instead of buying.
If you’re an international student or professional, you could search for lower-interest rates through international manufacturers. These manufacturers can offer rate reductions to foreigners, but they generally don’t reduce them below 10%. If you have a basic line of credit, be prepared to pay a 10 to 20 percent down payment for a car. You will also need to finance or lease the vehicle within the timeframe and term of your U.S. visa.
Step Two: Finding a Car Loan Lender
Since international students have little to no credit history, it is very difficult to find a car loan lender that will give you a loan at a low interest rate. Most car loan lenders will charge an 18% to 20% APR (annual percentage rate) which is the amount of interest you will have to pay annually on the car loan. A reasonable APR rate for a car loan should be between 4.9% to 12% APR.

You can search for car loan lenders through your local bank, credit card company (some credit card companies such as Capital One offer car loans), or your local car dealership can recommend an auto loan lender for you. However, the easiest solution for international students would be to take out a car loan through an online lender such as Lendbuzz since they offer reasonable interest rates by taking into account factors such as educational background, job experience or family income.



Step Three: Selecting a Vehicle
Next, you will need to choose the right vehicle. While some requirements are essential, it’s a good idea to finance your car around the above-mentioned expenses. First, determine your area of residence and find local car dealerships in your area. Keep in mind that if you’re living in the city, a smaller economy sized vehicle will save you money in the long run and will be easier to park. If you’re in the suburbs, consider car that is economical on gas.
Step Four: Facing the Insurance Problem
Once you’ve leased or purchased your vehicle, you’ll need to get auto insurance. In America, financial institutions require auto insurance plans if either a lease or loan is present on a vehicle. Your auto insurance rate will be determined by two things:
  Your U.S. credit history
  Your U.S. driving history
Again, having thin U.S. credit history is a problem. Similar to obtaining a loan, your criteria for securing car insurance as an international student or professional can be expensive. U.S. insurance companies do, however, offer specific rates for foreigners. Do the necessary research and find an insurance quote comparison website, and make sure that you search for insurance quotes for individuals with a thin credit history.
Step Five: Registering Your Vehicle
Your vehicle can’t be legally driven in the U.S. until it is registered. To register your car, you will need to acquire and present a valid U.S. driver’s license—which can be obtained at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Then, you will need to provide proof of insurance coverage.
During the registration process, you will need to pay the sales tax on your vehicle. Unfortunately, the sales tax amount is not included in the vehicle’s original price and needs to be paid during the time of registration and delivery. If you are leasing a vehicle, you can pay the sales tax via monthly payments.
Although, it is more challenging for an international student or professional to purchase a car in the U.S., there are now more financing and car loan options available to you such as Lendbuzz. Taking a car loan is also a great way to increase your credit score so that you can take out other loans in the future. Just remember to finance your vehicle responsibly, secure a quality car loan, receive your US driver’s license and find the best insurance quote for your vehicle.
___
Lendbuzz is an online lender for expats & international students in the U.S. Our car financing platform offers international professionals attractive car financing solutions – without U.S. credit history or SSN.
If you are looking to buy a car –  new or pre-owned – Lendbuzz partners with a wide range of auto dealers, to offer you a seamless car purchasing experience. Lendbuzz offers the lowest rates, quick & easy online approval (less than 5 minutes), and consulting services on how to build your U.S. credit history and receive the best car loan rates.

Visit Lendbuzz or contact to learn more:
help@lendbuzz.com (617) 528-9834


Lendbuzz is an online platform providing car loans and financing for international students and car loan for expats in the U.S.
Any questions? contact us for more details

Misconceptions about America and US culture

As an international student, studying abroad is more than exams and classes. It is also about learning new cultures and meeting different types of people. Sometimes though, we go into a new culture with stereotypes and biases. American culture has a very different feel than European or Asian cultures and there are some misunderstandings about Americans. Here are some common misconceptions about America that are not always true.


Americans are not curious about the world
The reason that this is believed is because in many parts of the world, people watch America’s media and listen to American music, making American culture widely known.  However, Americans do not pay too much attention to other countries media so they are not as aware. And while Americans are statistically not good at geography, it is taught in schools and there are options to take geography in higher education. Still, try to get over these stereotypes: usually in colleges or universities, American students get more and more open to the world around them and you will surely have great conversations about cultural differences with your new friends on campus. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of American students spend a semester or year abroad and get exposed to other cultures through this experience.
Americans don’t appreciate football (soccer)
Yes, it is called soccer in America. However, soccer participation among youths in America is among the highest in the world. Soccer is the third most watched sport in America after (American) football and baseball. You can even watch popular games on TV as there are some American channels that show soccer games and follow all types of international sports: FoxSport, ESPN, Gol TV are among the most famous sports channels. Playing sports on campus, whether it is soccer or American football is a great way to meet new friends and to get into the local culture. Do not miss those opportunities.


Americans are overly patriotic
This is true in certain cases, Americans are very proud to be American. You can see the American flag easily in the streets. However, it is not uncommon in Europe and the rest of the world to be patriotic of your own country. If you meet someone from India or Russia or anywhere in the world, they are just as patriotic as Americans. Americans also know how to have fun with their patriotism. The 4th of July is a holiday celebrating American independence and it is one of the most fun holidays. There are a lot of fireworks that are free to go and see and Americans usually have cookouts and grill hamburgers. This is a good opportunity to try some American cuisine and get invited in American families or with your new friends on campus.


If you don’t have healthcare, you won’t get any help
Yes, America does not have universal health care. However, even if you don’t have healthcare coverage you will still be taken care of. Doctors have taken the Hippocratic oath that says they must take care of any and all patients that need their help. You may receive a large bill in the mail later though…
All Americans are obese and lazy
Probably the most popular stereotypes about Americans is that they are all obese and eat nothing but McDonald's and other types of fast food. While there are some who fit the stereotype, most Americans aren’t fat and actually care about fitness and health and eating healthy. Sports and fitness are an active part of American society. You will surely experience it on your campus while studying abroad. You might be surprised by how young Americans can be body conscious and how you can easily find healthy food and places to exercise. It is all a matter of choice.

Need more help with planning your studies, internships and the steps following graduation?