Sunday, 29 October 2017

How to Build Good Credit in the US as an International Student

As an international student inside the US, it’s wise to know your credit score and start building your credit now.
What is a credit score? Your credit score essentially reflects how much of a financial risk you would be if you were loaned money. Building a good credit score means it will be possible (and easier) to do things like take out a loan, rent or buy a home, and get good rates on auto or home insurance.
You may be wondering how your credit score determined. Credit is determined by five factors:

  • Payment History (35%) – Lenders want to know if you’ve paid past credit amounts on time.
  • Amounts Owed (30%) – This is the amount you owe on all forms of credit. Is your credit card staying maxed out, or are you paying it off in a reasonable time frame?
  • Length of Credit History (15%) – Your credit score also factors in the amount of time you have been building credit. The sooner you start building credit, the better your credit will be!
  • Credit Mix (10%) – The mix of credit cards, retail accounts and loans is a small factor in your credit score. It is good to have multiple credit cards but better to just have a couple and be paying them off on time.
  • New Credit (10%) – By opening multiple lines of credit in a short amount of time you will be considered a greater risk, it is smart to open new lines of credit slowly over time to keep building your credit.
How do you build good credit? The best way to start building credit is by having a credit card. Many companies make it difficult to open a credit card as an international student, especially if you don’t have credit history or a social security number. However, SelfScore offers a MasterCard just for international students which means you don’t need a social security number to open an account.
If you are at least 18 years of age, have been accepted to study at an accredited US college or university, and have a valid F1, J1 or M1 visa you are eligible to apply for your own credit card through SelfScore!

Still Searching to Find the Perfect College?

Still searching to find the perfect college to attend? Finding a great school that’s just perfect for you is difficult, but sometimes the school that we picture for ourselves isn’t always what we need. In my experience, I dreamed of going to a large,  traditional, public school. The school I choose was a small liberal arts college located on a nature reserve. It was not your typical college experience, but it was exactly what I needed! I was on a campus that offered amazing opportunities like small class sizes, which enabled me to personally know all of my teachers and classmates, and result in a very successful outcome after graduation.

Like my college, Westminster College is also a small liberal arts school. It was founded in 1852 in New Wilmington, PA and could be the school you’ve been searching for! In 2017, Westminster College is one of the best liberal colleges because of their small class sizes, and their very high graduation rate (with more than 78% of the their students graduating on time).

Students at Westminster College love their school and wouldn’t recommend going anywhere else. At Westminster students enjoying living on campus where they’ve made new friendships that last wherever they go! They also have the opportunity to study some pretty amazing programs.
Environmental Science

The Environmental Science program at Westminster is huge. Westminster College dedicates 110 acres to their Outdoor Laboratory for their environmental science students to conduct research on lakes, woods and undisturbed lands. Their students find solutions for environmental issues and enter a growing field. On campus their students use their scientific knowledge to protect water, find alternative energy solutions, work in air quality, and research land use. Students also have the chance to design and build environmentally sustainable homes in their Tiny House Project.
Physical Therapy

Have you ever imagine yourself helping people in clinics, hospitals or a private office? At Westminster College students in their Physical Therapy program learn to help clients through massage, heat treatment, and prescribed exercise. Qualifying students can participate in a 3-3 articulation program where they spend three years studying at Westminster, followed by three years at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to earn both the Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees in six, rather than the traditional seven years.
Create Your Own Major

That’s right, students at  Westminster College can choose what path they want by creating their own major! Imagine yourself as a chemical ecologist, a science writer, a music executive, a daycare owner, or a pharmaceutical salesperson. You can accomplish your personal goals in a individual interdisciplinary degree. How it works is students identify a core of coursework in one program of study or major and then add coursework from other disciplines to create an educational experience unique to them. This is a great option if you’re someone who hasn’t settled on one career path.

Whatever degree path you choose at Westminster College you will succeed because of their hands-on class experience, small class sizes and unique opportunities to learn more. Once a student at Westminster you’ll agree that this is exactly where you need to be!

How to Get Answers to Questions on Studying in the US

Summer is already here and it’s a great time to start making your plans to study in the US. As you start to gather information, you may have numerous questions that arise, and you might not be sure how to get answers to questions on studying in the US. However, we’re able to help you answer questions like:

    What it’s like to study a certain subject
    What it’s like to live in a certain state
    How you can prepare for your visa interview

Luckily, at we have a ton of free resources to help you find the answers that you need! Below are a few ways you can find answers on We are always here to help and ready to answer your questions!
Ask an Advisor

Each month on we have a guest advisor on our Ask an International Student Advisor page to help answer your questions. Each month there’s a new advisor that works at a school in the US, and has the experience and knowledge to give you an accurate answer. If you have a question you should write a comment on the advisor page and very soon it will be answered. If you’re not sure what questions to ask, a great way to learn more information on studying in the US is to see the answers that were given to other students who asked questions. You can browse to the pages from advisors in previous months to see what other students are asking. You never know, you might have the same question.
Social Media

We are always on our social media! We want to connect, share and like what you have to say on our social media channels. Everyday we are checking and posting on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If you ever have a question we are happy to answer them on any of our pages. Social media is a great way to communicate with us. We also post a lot of resourceful articles and feature schools that might be a good fit for you.
Blogs and Forums

Our International Student Blog is for you! If there is ever a time you want more insight about a certain topic such as staying on a budget when you travel or how to make friends in a new city, we have the answers. Not all of your questions about studying in the US are going to have a step-by-step answer, so our blogs are a great resource for many answers to one question. Take time to browse through some of our blogs and read the ones that stand out the most to you.

Our International Student Forum is open for you to post a question, and for your question to be answered by other students. The forum is broken down into different sections and then into even smaller subsections. For example, if you have a question about getting a calling card you can search in the communication section. In the communication section you’ll find a subsection for calling cards. Check the forum to get an idea of what other students are asking, and you may find your answer!
Videos and Hangouts 

Need more answers? We have many different videos and Google Hangouts to help you learn more about the US education system. Our videos include guest from schools around the US, as well as visuals and examples to help you. There are a lot of different videos that cover topics such as “Tips For Writing a Great College Admission Essay” and “Working in the US as an International Student.” To learn more, browse through the different videos that we offer and if you have a question just post and we will reply.

It can be hard to figure out how to study in the US, especially if you have a lot of questions and aren’t sure how to have them answered. At our priority is to help you answer those questions so you can become a student in the US. Gather as much information you can this summer by looking at the free resources we offer you.

4 Adjustments International Students in the US Face

Part of being an international student is getting involved with the culture and customs around you. Customs and traditions differ from place to place. However, in the United States you will notice an incredible amount of diversity. Whether it’s the different people or the extreme changes in weather as you fly from New York to Miami, there is a place for all. Here we will talk about some adjustments international students will face in the United States.

Back in time
The majority of international students that come to the US are generally between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. If you are 21 or older, then you are one of the lucky ones. However, if you are 20 years old and under unfortunately, you will be considered under age for many things. You cannot rent a car on your own unless you are willing to pay extra fees and your car insurance is generally more expensive too. Also, even though you may have been allowed to drink alcohol in your home country, unless you are 21 years old, you will not be able to purchase or consume alcohol legally while in the US.  

Sports… enough said.
Sports are a very important part of society in the United States. Whether you like watching sports, participate in them, or simply enjoy the pre and post-celebration atmosphere, there’s something for everyone when it comes to sport in the US. You will be dragged to at least one game during the year by your new friends. American football season starts in the Fall. It’s closely followed by basketball season in the Winter and finally baseball in the Spring. College games are just as competitive as professional games, and everyone, including professors, will be ready for game day.
If you are one of those people that never cared for sports, don’t worry! You are definitely not alone or out of the fun. In the United States, game day festivities start as early as 5 hours before the actual game begins, especially during football season. Tailgating is a pre-game tradition in many college campuses around the country. It involves getting to the stadium’s parking lot early with friends, setting up your grill, bringing some coolers (with adult beverages of course), playing loud music, and getting excited for the game.

So much food!
This is true for almost every dining hall and restaurant you go to. The portion sizes in the United States are probably ones of the largest in the world. If you stay at the residence halls in your university, most likely you’ll have a meal plan. Whenever you go eat, you’ll soon realize how much food restaurants serve! At the beginning, it will seem like you can barely finish a plate of food. But by the end of the semester you’ll proudly finish two plates and even have dessert. If you go out to a restaurant, beware of what you order or else you’ll have leftovers for days. And yes, people take their leftovers home!
Another of those strange things that will shock international students is the massive amount of ice all beverages come with. On the upside, most places give you free refills!

Hot and Cold
When I lived in Kansas, in May it could be snowing in the morning and then by the end of the day I would be in shorts. It’s very hard to track the weather in the United States. You will need to prepare for the sudden changes at any moment. While Texan schools may close when they get one inch of snow, you’ll need at least 15 inches in Michigan to have a snow day.
It’s impossible to geographically describe the United States too. Make sure you research the areas around your school. You’ll be shocked if you come from a big city and realize that your university is located in a small rural town two hours from the closest city. And yes, distances like those are very normal here.

Studying in the US will reveal some strange challenges and traditions. Don’t be shy to join in the celebration after your school’s team beats their rivals on game day! And make sure to always keep a jacket and some sandals handy! The United States will be an experience that you will not regret, the melange of cultures is what makes the US such a unique place for international students.

Continue your English Education at Arizona State University

If you’re looking for somewhere in the U.S. to continue your education, do it at Arizona State. The Arizona State University (ASU) Global Launch program is designed for international students to take their English abilities to the next level while getting a real American college experience. Located in the city of Phoenix, Arizona State is one of the largest universities in the country with over 50,000 students. Having a large student body opens you up to meeting more people and creating friendships with students from over 160 countries. 
The Global Launch program has over 22,000 graduates spanning over the past 40 years and counting. This program gives students a chance to take Intensive English language classes and receive a TOEFL waiver upon completion of the program!
How does Arizona State differ from any other Intensive English Program? The ASU-USA Pathways Program is what really sets this program apart. What does this program mean for you as an international student? The ASU-USA Pathways Program allows international students interested in obtaining their undergraduate degree at Arizona State or any other U.S. university to do so. In addition to taking your Intensive English courses you’ll also earn 24 – 25 actual academic credits that can be put towards a degree at Arizona State or other accredited US colleges and universities. You’ll also have the following social perks:

  • Make friends easily with planned activities and living on-campus.
  • Take English & Writing courses with fellow Arizona State international students.
  • After two or three semesters take freshmen level courses with American students.
In addition to the learning and social aspect of the Arizona State Global Launch program, Arizona and the city of Phoenix have tons of places to explore. These are just some of the breathtaking destinations nearby:

  • The Grand Canyon – a natural wonder carved out by the mighty Colorado River and is often referred to as one of the “Seven Wonders” of the natural world.
  • Lake Powell – One of the largest man-made lakes in the United States.
  • Jerome – an old mining town which is now a ghost town (oooh spooky)! Take a step back in time to the 1920s.
  • Antelope Canyon – the famous eroded red rocks which look like spirals and brilliant shades of red and orange.
  • Desert Botanical Garden – 140 acres of botanical gardens located in Phoenix with over 21,000 plants and more than 4,000 plant species.
Studying in Arizona opens you up to a future of continuing your education in the U.S. and to exploring natural wonders surrounding your new home!

Volunteering as an International Student

Summer can be used as a time to recharge your batteries and relax until the next school year comes. Although taking time for yourself is important, when you study abroad you want to make sure you are maximizing your experience. You may accomplish this by traveling, working or taking summer classes. However, the US also provides great volunteer opportunities that allow you to give back to the community. Volunteering as an international student will expand your horizons and introduce you to a new part of the US culture. Not only does volunteering help you meet new friends, but it shows potential employers or scholarship panels that you care about your community.
Here are a few tips on choosing a volunteer program and some examples of volunteer activities.

How to begin?

  • Play to your strengths: What interests you the most? Do you like the outdoors and environmental conservation? Would you prefer to be helping children, women, or the elderly? Or are you interested in community development and politics? Decide on an area of interest and find out what skills or experience you could offer these groups.
  • Gather information: Once you’ve decided on what type of organization you’d like to volunteer for, start calling around. Locally, you will find many groups that would love to have you as volunteer. You can also use United Way to find groups near your house or campus. As you contact organizations, ask if they have any specific policy around international students volunteering and what type of skills you’ll need to help them. If you aren’t sure where to start, your Student Union should have more information on student volunteer organizations around campus and will be a great place to begin your search.
  • Figure out the “why?”: Volunteerism, or community service, is highly valued in the US. However, really think about what is driving you to volunteer. Some volunteer projects are more attainable than others. Find out if you are willing to put more effort into obtaining more challenging opportunities. Also, be honest with yourself- how much free time will you have to invest in community service work?  
  • Still having trouble? Here are some volunteer suggestions to get you started:
    • Working at a food pantry or soup kitchen
    • Tutoring students
    • Presenting about your country and culture at events or schools
    • Cleaning a beach or park
    • Walking or playing with dogs at a shelter

So many options!

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a type of volunteer work you’d like to do, make sure you try different organizations within that area of interest.
For example, if you like teaching, Teach for America is a great program that accepts international students and exposes you to a challenging classroom setting in low-income communities. If you prefer to create awareness for earth’s natural resources, Appalachian Trail is a group that offers many environmental workshops throughout the year. If you are an animal lover, Petfinder can help you find local animal shelters that will welcome your eagerness to help pets in need.

10 Iconic American Movies You Should See Before Studying In The US

Adjusting to life in the US is more than just learning English or eating American food. If you really want to learn more about American culture, what better way than by watching popular American movies!

Your new friends in the US will most likely surprise you from time to time by quoting their favorite movie lines or make references to iconic American cinema. To be in the loop when they do so, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the joke, quote, or reference, which means you’ll need to watch a few popular movies. 

While there are hundreds of famous American movie quotes, here are 10 films from a variety of genres and decades, that you should watch. Let’s start with one of the most classic films in American cinema:

1) Gone with the Wind (1939) – This movie tells the hardships of the American South during and after the Civil War in the 1860s. This film is filled with action, romance, adventure and arguably the most well known line in film history. If you’re into history this a great film to immerse yourself into one of America’s defining wars.

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” – Rhett Butler

2) Apollo 13 (1995) – Based on real life events this film tells the story of the Apollo 13 mission to the Moon back in 1970. These three astronauts safely navigate their way back to Earth after enduring many hardships in the vast emptiness of outer space.

“Houston, we have a problem.” – Jim Lovell

3) The Godfather (1972) – An American crime film which chronicles the fictional leaders of a New York crime family from 1945 to 1955. Highly regarded as one of the best films in the world, it’s a must watch for any film lover.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” – Vito Corleone

4) Forrest Gump (1994) – Hangout with Forrest as he tells his fictional life story on a bus bench to strangers in Savannah, Georgia. Throughout the film you’ll see some of the most defining events of the latter half of the 20th century. This movie will make you laugh and possibly make you tear up a little bit. As the saying goes…

“My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump

5) Mean Girls (2004) – Despite being 13 years old, this film really showcases the structure of high school cliques in the US. You’ll get a firsthand look at the social groups in American high schools. While this may be a high school film the experience is still relatable, even in college. So buckle up because…

“Get in loser. We’re going shopping.” – Regina George

6) Clueless (1995) – Talk about being the Polaroid of perfection. Cher Horowitz has it all in this teen comedy that shows the epitome of 90’s culture in Beverly Hills, California. From start to finish you’ll see character development and teen culture that’s still relevant today.

“Ugh. As if!” – Cher Horowitz

7) Star Wars IV – A New Hope (1977) – Star Wars is an epic space tale that quickly became a cultural phenomenon with many sequels and prequels spanning over the past 40 years! Out of all of these films though the “must see” Star Wars film to kick start your sci-fi obsession is the original film “A New Hope.” Always remember…

“May the force be with you.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

8) The Dark Knight (2008) – When it comes to superhero movies, it’s hard to top Batman. The Dark Knight is part of a trilogy series and is regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time. With Heath Ledger giving an amazing performance as the “Joker.”

“Why so serious?” – The Joker

9) Elf (2001) – If you don’t know one Will Ferrel movie, you certainly will want to before studying in the US. Elf is the story of Buddy the Elf, who was adopted by Santa and meets his real family in New York City. Learn about the American Christmas experience from an outsider just trying to make it in the big apple!

“Santa! Oh, my God! Santa’s coming! I know him! I know him!” – Buddy the Elf

10) Toy Story (1995) – This list isn’t complete without at least one Disney movie on it. In addition to having an iconic quote, this movie also has a great song promoting friendship, “You’ve Got a Friend In Me,” and will bring out your inner child and open up your imagination to new heights.

“To infinity and beyond!” – Buzz Lightyear

I hope you’ve enjoyed this crash course in American cinema! While this list only scratches the surface I encourage you to sit back, relax, have a pre-study abroad movie night and explore the land of American films! For more movies, AFI’s 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time is a comprehensive list of quotable films.

If you’re a big movie fan, have you ever thought about taking your fandom a step further? Full Sail University’s state of the art campus has it’s own movie studio where you can work on actual films! You’ll gain valuable insight into the film industry from taking courses in directing, film production and digital cinematography. Full Sail is about unleashing your creativity and developing skills that will be life changing.