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Follow a Mongolian Student Through the Admissions Process

  • Jessica Stahl

The New York Times has spent the past few months following the journeys of several high school seniors as they apply to college for a series called "The Choice." Somehow we missed this before, but one of those students is an international student from Mongolia! In her series of blog posts, Uyanga Tamir has written about how her need for financial aid influenced her decision of where to apply:
Additionally, most colleges require international students to provide their own tuition. Only the top schools consider an international student’s application without looking at his or her financial circumstance.

This is why colleges like Princeton, Yale, and Dartmouth are on my list; they are need-blind to international students and meet the fully demonstrated needs of every admitted student.

She also discussed the process of applying to schools outside the U.S., where tuition was lower and scholarships were more plentiful, and most recently wrote about her decision to matriculate at Princeton University (my alma mater!).

Besides just bringing an interesting perspective from an international student, there were two things that stuck out to me in her story:

1) Uyanga's original plan was to return to Mongolia after high school to attend college there. She says that her mentor convinced her to apply to elite colleges in the U.S. instead, and as a result she changed her approach to high school courses, taking harder courses and concentrating on improving her GPA. Shu Wen talked yesterday about this sense that elite colleges are the only ones worth going to in America - she disagreed, but we'll have more discussion of this idea in an upcoming post.

2) Each of the blog posts contains a little chart showing the schools Uyanga applied to, and the results of her application. It's a perfect illustration of how random and unpredictable the admissions process can be. For example, she got into Princeton and Dartmouth but was rejected by Yale. And she was accepted by the University of Colorado Boulder and rejected by the University of Chicago. It's something our bloggers have remarked on as well. They didn't all get the results they wanted or expected from their applications, but they were all happy in the end, either because (like Jaime) something else unexpected worked out or because (like Sebastian) they worked hard to make something work out.

For more discussion on applying from a U.S. high school to a U.S. college, check out Farima's recent post about her experience.

Are you studying in the U.S. or hoping to? Share your stories and experiences with the Student Union's readers to help other students. Email