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Best university clubs for international students

When you are an international student studying abroad in a new and foreign country, it can be challenging to feel involved and part of your campus activities, especially if you just arrived. US universities know that international students can have a hard time fitting in with American culture and they have many clubs for you to join as soon as you arrive on campus, whether you want to meet new people and different cultures or want to meet people from your home country. There are academic, sports, and culture clubs dedicated to bringing students who have similar interests together to promote the development of students’ leadership and campus involvement.

Academic clubs for graduate students
As a general rule, if your field of study exists on campus, there is a club to go along with it. Academic clubs exist so you can mingle with people who have similar interests to yours and in the your field of study. You’ll most likely be taking classes with these people as well, so use this opportunity to get to know them. Joining an academic club during your studies abroad gives you the benefit of meeting other people in your field of study that you otherwise wouldn’t have met. Academic clubs have other benefits as well. You can use this opportunity to do homework and study with other people. If you prefer to work with other people this can make your life easier while making new connections. Also you can use this opportunity to explore your field of study and go deeper into the subject. You may learn new things that you haven’t learned in class and can make you enjoy your studies even more.

Sports clubs for graduate students
If you love sports but aren’t a top level athlete, don’t worry! There are opportunities to play any sports at any level, even at smaller universities. There are sports clubs at universities that don’t have any commitments or practices and you just play for fun. There are also higher level clubs with coaches and practices so you can choose what’s best for you. Even sports that aren’t always as popular in America such as football (soccer) and rugby have a place on campus. This is a great way to stay in shape and not gain weight from the all-you-can-eat dining halls. So if you’re itching to get on the soccer field or the basketball court, these clubs are perfect for you.

Culture clubs for graduate students
As an international student you may want to meet people like you. There are clubs on campus specifically meant for meeting people of the same ethnicity and culture as you. If you are from Italy you can join the Italian club and meet students from Italy or American born Italians. This is a great way to meet people who are similar to you while studying overseas in a graduate program. Clubs like these get funding from the schools so they generally have fun events with free food and entertainment.
If you want to be in a specific student club, but there’s nothing like it at your university - you can start it yourself. If you talk to the university center and student activities staff and they approve of your idea you can head your own club or student organization. There are almost no restrictions on which clubs can be formed, so be creative and create or join a club related to something you genuinely enjoy doing. It will make your time studying abroad much more enjoyable and you will have unforgettable experiences and meet interesting people.
Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?

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!

Still not sure what university is your best fit? Visit or download the GradTrain apps to try our university matching predictor! 

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.