Conditional admission is good news for international students!
A growing number of US colleges are offering conditional admission, welcoming international students who would previously have been barred due to insufficient English language skills.
Conditional Admission Requirements
Conditional admission is based on a policy of accepting applications from international students who meet the school’s academic requirements but lack its English-language requirements.
Rather than rejecting these students outright, US colleges and universities can use conditional admission, requiring such students to get their English skills to a specified level through intensive English-language coursework and practice.
The exact specifications of conditional admission vary from one college to the next.
Students are generally expected to have a regular courseload and also participate in demanding English classes. Some schools may give students a year to get their English up to speed, while others may give them only one semester.
Students may participate in intensive English summer programs and/or English classes during the semester.
While some colleges provide students with English training through their own academic programs, others may partner with outside ESL services to work with students. Students also can seek special training or individual tutoring to help them ace benchmark tests like the TOEFL or TSE exams.
Conditional Admission Pros
Conditional admission has benefited both international students and US colleges and universities.
International students who otherwise would be unable to attend a US school because of inadequate English skills are still able to gain admission to schools and then improve their English – something which is undoubtedly easier to do in an English-speaking country where the language is everywhere!
By increasing their number of international students, US schools also benefit from greater diversity on campus. Colleges across the country, from UC Berkeley to Penn State, have voiced their desire for more international students.
Conditional Admission Cons
Conditional admission does have some drawbacks.
First, the English training required by conditional admission can be expensive, adding thousands of dollars in fees onto already-pricey US tuition rates.
Conditional admission is also effective primarily for undergraduate students. Graduate programs, which are smaller and more selective, are less likely to offer conditional admission.
The pressure of boosting English skills on a deadline also can put a great deal of stress on international students, who are already dealing with US student visa paperwork, making sure they have professional translations of their transcripts and personal documents, life in a new country and their first semester of academic work in a second language.
Students who fail to meet their English “deadline” risk having to switch universities or take off a semester from school just to work on their English skills.
Conditional Admission Tips for International Students
All of this can be stressful, but international students on conditional admission shouldn’t despair.
It’s important to realize that no matter how much you have struggled with English in the past, once you are intensively studying it in an English-speaking country — studying in English, making English-speaking friends and living with an American roommate — your skills will likely improve dramatically.
The English language training your school will help you receive is also likely to be of excellent quality; after all, it’s also in the school’s interests to retain its international students!
Conditional admission is designed to boost international student participation in the US school system. The system welcomes international students to the US and helps them succeed.
Concerns about boosting English skills in time should not dissuade international students from accepting an offer of conditional admission.