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How to successfully transfer from a China to US university

China to US
Making the move from a Chinese to American university? Here are some preliminary tips. Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

Are you a Chinese student considering higher education in the US? Then you probably know that there is a long history of international China to US student exchanges. More than 370,000 students came from China to the US in the 2019-20 academic year alone. Of these, many were fresh graduates — but there were also those who transferred universities.

Whether it’s to complete a twinning programme or switch majors, a transfer is a familiar concept to many international students. Since it can be an arduous process, it involves significant research and planning. Here are some tips on what to consider if you’re going from China to US.

Start applying for your China to US move early

In China, the spring semester starts in March while the autumn semester begins in September. In the US, the spring semester starts in January and the fall semester kicks off in September. This is where your transfer planning starts: chart out the start and completion dates of each programme, then design an arrangement that works for you.

Chinese students should start applying to US universities well before their programme is due to begin. This is to account for the lengthy processes that you will encounter, which include presenting an acceptable transcript and securing funding. In the words of Christina Khan, director of UCF Global at the University of Central Florida, “If you plan to transfer from a university in your home country to a US university, it’s important to start the process early because you will likely need to obtain an evaluation of the classes you have taken back home.”

China to US

A group of Chinese students who study at US universities watch online live coverage of the US presidential election at an apartment in Beijing on Nov. 4, 2020. Source: Greg Baker/AFP

Maintain a good GPA

If you’re transferring as part of a twinning programme, you would follow the course pathway in which your subjects, credits, and prerequisites are clearly set out. Otherwise, you should figure out which credits to transfer, and if they are accepted in your US university of choice. This is made easier with the guidance of a counsellor, who can help you stay on track and manage requirements.

Showcase skills and achievements

Higher education in China is infamously intense and rigid. You may be used to long hours of studying and memorising — but in the US, universities are straying away from this system. Instead, you will be encouraged to balance classes and assignments with sports, clubs, and social activities. It takes more than good grades to get you into a well-esteemed American institution, so be sure to include your extracurricular achievements, projects, and practical placements when building that portfolio.

Apply to several universities

You are likely eyeing one or two American universities in your China to US transfer, but remember, it’s best to diversify your choices. Apply to several universities in different cities. It is common for students to apply to more than 10 universities; even if you get accepted by half, you would be able to choose the one that suits you best.

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