International student status is usually determined by citizenship, not country of residence. So for the purpose of this guide, a USA citizen who happens to live abroad is not considered an international student, but a foreign national is considered an international student no matter where he or she may happen to reside.

We use the terms “international students” and “foreign students” interchangeably, meaning students who are neither USA citizens nor eligible non-citizens. Some international students have told us that they find the term “foreign” alienating and the term “international” much more diplomatic and friendly. No offense is intended by our use of the term “foreign students”.

We have tried to minimize the use of idiomatic expressions in this guide, but it is difficult to avoid colloquial expressions entirely.

The term “college” refers to a school that offers only undergraduate programs. A “university” offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. But both terms are often used interchangeably in the US, referring to institutions of higher education. For example, Dartmouth College offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Moreover, colleges are in no way inferior to universities, and the word “university” does not mean automatically superior. The best colleges are just as good academically as the best universities. Accordingly, this guide uses either term as a synonym for the other.