The requirements to get into college in the USA are varied but often share a few key elements. Among the many boxes you have to check before you even send in an application is proof of graduation or an equivalent certification from prior schooling. But like slang and curse words, certifications are often designated differently throughout the world, and American schools need consistency in order to properly assess applicants.
Breaking it down
Most undergraduate and graduate programs request that international applicants provide an official evaluation of their education credentials. They do this for two main reasons: to ensure that you’re not making up the name of a diploma and to confirm that you have the relevant and equivalent educational background necessary to attend their program. There are, as always, different requirements for each school, but it’s likely that you’d use one of the accredited credential evaluation services to determine the validity of your certification. These organizations might also reference your transcript and/or grade reports.
If your certification is from a non-English speaking country, it’s also likely that you’d be required to get an official English translation of certain documents as part of your application. Credential evaluation organizations often can provide these services.
As you’re probably starting to realize, getting an education in America isn’t cheap. Fees for the evaluation of education credentials – which applicants are responsible for – tend to range from $50 to $250 per document, depending on the amount of detail required and the speed of response. Translations are most likely an additional cost, and you’d also have to pay for mail or courier services to submit the documents to the schools you’re applying to.
Before you start researching the cheapest credential evaluation company, however, make sure you check each school’s website. Some might require evaluations from specific organizations, while others may be fine with you sending a copy of your transcript to someone on staff. Just don’t forget that this process is time consuming and must be completed in time to submit the entire application, so it’s best to start the process far in advance of the application deadline.