Home > NewsRelease > For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 4: The Mind of the American Admissions Director/ Committee/Faculty Evaluator By Dr. Don Martin
For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 4: The Mind of the American Admissions Director/ Committee/Faculty Evaluator By Dr. Don Martin
Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Chicago, IL
Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Having been a Director of Admissions and an Associate Dean for Enrollment Management, my 28 years of experience in higher education included evaluating and making final decisions on tens of thousands of applications. In addition, on many occasions it was my privilege to attend conferences with other admissions and enrollment professionals. During these events we would have an opportunity to discuss our approaches to evaluating applications, and of course, that included applications submitted by international students. Here some information about what is going through the mind of someone who is evaluating and/or making a final decision** on an application submitted by a citizen of another country:
  • The first thing on the mind of the admissions director is meeting the enrollment goals of the institution. Often times these goals are set without the input of the admissions director. They are most often set by the senior administration, and in lesser instances by the faculty. It is rare that the admissions director has input in the setting of these goals, yet s/he is responsible for reaching them. Many factors are considered in the determination of enrollment goals – the number of men, the number of women, the number of U.S. minority students, the number of international students, average GPA, average for standardized tests, and more. While the enrollment goals may not always seem understandable from a strictly objective point of view, there are usually sound reasons for each and every one of them.
  • There will almost always be an international student enrollment target number provided to the director. Sometimes this number will be flexible; most of the time it is set in stone. Let’s say, for instance, that the enrollment goal for incoming international students at the institution is 20%, and the overall incoming class size goal is 450. That means the director will be responsible for the enrollment of 90 international students at the start of the academic year. If that number is 80 or lower, or 100 or higher, the administration will most likely not be happy. And let’s say that between 500 and 600 international students make application for that incoming target of 90. This means a very difficult selection process for that director. S/he will most likely have to deny many more than can be admitted. But keep in mind that this is not the director’s prerogative. She or he is simply following the directives of those at higher levels of the administration.
  • Among directors of admission and faculty there is an overwhelmingly positive impression of international applicants. They are seen as being extremely motivated, committed, hard working and flexible. This impression was and is certainly my own. International students consider studying abroad to be a real privilege and they are committed to making the most of that opportunity.
  • There is also a general impression that international students will make every effort to become part of the educational environment they join. The perception is that international students take great pains to “fit in,” make friends, and become part of the institutional “family.”
  • In most cases it is assumed that international students complete good applications, and that they are able to follow directions well. This is extremely important. In the mind of an admissions committee member and/or the admissions director, someone who cannot follow directions as an applicant will be less likely to follow directions as a student.
  • The only real concern on the part of most admissions directors has to do with the ability of the international applicants being evaluated to communicate in English. Obviously, this is critical to success in completing the graduate degree. Insufficient English proficiency results in challenges for the student, his/her classmates (especially with group work/projects) and faculty. Sometimes international students view English requirements at various institutions as prohibitive or even punitive. This could not be further from the truth. It is actually a step taken to help guarantee their success. Admissions, student affairs, and academic personnel are extremely concerned about creating an environment in which their students will thrive. After all, satisfied alumni are what give an institution its greatest level of credibility. The last thing anyone would want is for a student to come to the United States for graduate study and fail, especially if that can be prevented. Determining the level of English proficiency is critical to an international student’s application. More about this in our next blog.
**For most doctoral programs, faculty members are very involved in the evaluation of applicants. In many instances they make the final decision on admission.
Coming up next: Evaluating Foreign Credentials, Determination of GPA, and Taking Standardized Tests (including TOEFL or IELTS)
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The post For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 4: The Mind of the American Admissions Director/ Committee/Faculty Evaluator By Dr. Don Martin appeared first on Grad School Road Map.
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Name: Dr. Donald C. Martin
Group: Grad School Road Map
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 773-549-7639
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