Making Your "Top-Notch" Application as an International Student | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
MPH Student Angella Namwase
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Making Your "Top-Notch" Application as an International Student

​Applying to attend school across oceans is very exciting. Adventures, diverse cultures, totally different learning styles and such come to mind. However, bringing these imaginations to reality is a journey full of deadlines, short-term and long-term plans, as well as a thought-out budget.  If you are an international application preparing to apply and join the renowned Brown School, here are a few things you may want to considering during the application process: 

For MPH students: there's no shortcut to the Graduate Record Exam. Take it!

Your GRE results will be considered when assessing your application so give the exam your best. Prepare for the exam and plan to take it with plenty of time before the date you'd like to submit your application (at least 3-4 weeks). When I was preparing for the exam I visited sites such as Greenlight Academy and Major test GRE word list. I also purchased the Kaplan GRE text book (get the latest year) which came with a bonus of online practice GRE exams that I could take before the actual exam. With this resource, I knew the structure of the exam and how to answer questions while being timed.  The Graduate Record Exam also requires effort and money--$190 to be exact. Plan the timing of your exam date carefully, leaving time for your test results to be sent to SOPHAS. Consider booking your test date in advance before slots fill up at your nearest testing center.

Demonstration of English language proficiency.

Most international students need to provide demonstration of English language proficiency via the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Since it takes time for exam results to be sent, you need to plan to take exams at least a month before the deadline. 

Transcript credential evaluation.

There are several organizations that review international transcripts and translate them to a US equivalent. You will have to request that your undergraduate university sends a copy to one of the Brown School's approved organizations. In order to avoid deadline hitches, send your transcript early enough so that it can be translated and sent to the Brown School before your preferred application submission date. There may be a cost associated with this evaluation.

Your personal statement: write, edit and rewrite. 

Think of a personal statement as your chance to present "the best version" of you. The thing with writing is "the best piece is not written at the first trial." Don't wait for a week to the deadline to write your personal statement. Write the statement, go to sleep and read it the next day. Walk away from it for a week and get back to it. If you re-read and edit your statement, you will be able to give it your best shot. Also, ask a couple of friends and mentors to read your statement and provide feedback. 

Leave time to make the most of your application.

Again, do not try to cram all of your application pieces into 2-3 days. Start 2 or 3 months ahead so that you can go through your application and requirements thoroughly. 

Look for information in all corners.

As you compile your application, you'll want to focus on portraying yourself and your unique experiences. You don't need to have working experience from the United Nations to be outstanding (well, if you have it, the better :)). Think of how to best present your experiences as a student or employee and how these align with the values of the Brown School and the course you would like to take. If you email the Office of Admissions & Recruitment, you'll be able to connect with a current student. This may give you a better a sense of the School's values and what kind the admissions committee looks for in applicants. I did this and it worked really well for me. Give this a thought.

Scholarships: you need the money to get there.

First and foremost, target the Early Action priority deadline of December, 15. All applications submitted by this deadline will receive priority consideration for admission and scholarship. In addition to applying by the priority deadline, be sure to select the options for scholarship considerations within your application. The Brown School offers merit- and need-based scholarships to admitted students. Also, admitted students get the opportunity to apply for research fellowships which offer paid research opportunities and cover one of your student fees. 

 You can do it!

The application process may seem lengthy but it is all worth it, believe me! The exposure you will get at the Brown School is a good reward for going through this process. Keep your eyes on the prize and work towards it. Remember, you are not the first international student to apply to the Brown School so if you meet any challenges, be very certain that someone else has gone through the same and still made it to the Brown School. If you are stuck, email the Brown School Office of Admissions & Recruitment, where you can request to be connected with an international student. 

Resources:

MSW Application Requirements for International Students

MPH Application Requirements for International Students

Virtual Info Session: Tips for Completing Your Strongest Application


Good luck and see you at the Brown School next academic year.

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