Friday, November 06, 2015 at 12pm

6 Ways to Take the Fear Out of Submitting Your International Transcript

MBA admissions

MBA application to top business schools is rarely easy for US-based students, but the transcripts portion of the application tends to be fairly straightforward. International students, on the other hand, generally have a few more hurdles to jump when sending transcripts. Along with securing visas, a student status and English language testing, the international transcript evaluation process is also more complex. 

The online landscape for this can be challenging to navigate, but these six tips will help cut down on the hassle of sending transcripts to top business schools.

Feel free to borrow ideas

Blazing your own trail is great in business, but there are no points for innovation in your MBA application. Therefore, your best first course of action is to try to get into contact with a current international student or alumnus, preferably from your nation of origin. Chances are there is a precedent for your situation and current students will have tips that gave them the edge in their own international transcript evaluation process. These are success stories, so steal from them. In this case, they will likely be happy to give you their trade secrets.

You’ve got questions? They’ve got answers

MBA programs in the US are increasingly attentive to the needs of international applicants. With the global economy continually expanding and providing more multinational opportunities, programs recognize the importance of diversity. The school you’re applying to more than likely has an international department that can give you answers and will even have international admissions advisors.

Be bona fide

The most significant additional step that international students have to go through when it comes to their MBA application in the US (other than learning English and taking the TOEFL) is the accreditation or ‘attestation’ process. It’s difficult enough for universities in the US to decipher how credits should be applied within national guidelines, with online and distance learning opportunities now gaining further legitimacy. All universities will require that your transcript be translated into English and evaluated for accreditation. But don’t worry, most international transcript evaluation services also provide translation.

When you’re looking at international transcript evaluation, first check the individual university requirements. Some universities work with a specific agency. The University of Southern California’s Marshall MBA, for example, requires students to verify their degree with The International Education Research Foundation, which is an accreditation service that focuses specifically on Californian schools. Many others have a few different services that they recommend. If a specific accreditation service isn’t mentioned, make sure to use a service that has been heavily vetted.

Don’t get fleeced!

Don’t just go with any organization for this important work. Just like every step of international scholarship, there are scammers out there trying to take your money for useless services. Make sure the company you use for your MBA application is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services or the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA). These are credible licensing organizations for international degree verification services. Members of these organizations are very likely to be accepted by most MBA programs, but it can’t hurt to inquire before sending transcripts to top business schools.

Get top-shelf service

Educational verification companies will offer different levels of service, but for your MBA you will want to get a ‘full evaluation’, sometimes known as a ‘divisional course analysis evaluation’. This is a more rigorous and in-depth look at your courses that provides a better picture of how your classes and grades stack up against American equivalents. The full evaluation is the option you want, even if the university does not say that outright. For example, Duke’s Fuqua MBA application states that transcripts/academic records must include course names, grades received, degree name and degree date. That is the information that is provided on the full evaluation.

Where you are from makes a difference

There are services designed to help you with your applications to top business schools from end to end – everything from GMAT prep to interview attire. Some of these are geared specifically for EU students, and many work with East Asian or Indian students. A Forbes article mentions StratusPrep.com as a company that works particularly with Indian students, for example. US-based consultancies like this may be more expensive than those in India, however they can offer more on-the-ground and up-to-date knowledge of specific university protocol.

Ultimately, it is a great deal of work to study internationally in the US, but there are a number of reputable services available to help when sending transcripts. Again, the first thing you want to do is check with the university to which you are applying. With diversity being more prized every day, they will be excited to help you discover why you should attend their program and how to go about applying. 

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Ryan Hickey is the managing editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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