The Untold Story of International Students

Roughly 12 percent of CHS students are foreign-born, immigrants or refugees, according to Mr. Robinson. These students face an exceptionally stressful reality while having to adapt to a new country, but they also have to deal with the overly expensive and complicated college application process of the U.S.

Most people forget about the additional hurdles of applying as an international student, and schools overlook the fact that these students require extra guidance as they navigate an unfamiliar system.

As an international student myself, I’m constantly disappointed to find out that I’m not eligible to receive in-state tuition. If you think out-of-state tuition is expensive, imagine having to pay out-of-state for any college in state too. Even when I work so hard in school to go to my dream college, my decision will always come down to the money.

I dread the moment when I discover that I can’t apply to a great scholarship or program that would have been a good fit for me. Even the programs that I am eligible to apply for are complicated because they require additional financial documents to be submitted.

Without careful guidance, one could easily fill out a form incorrectly or miss a step that would sabotage one’s possibility to receive an important scholarship. For many of us, scholarship opportunities are limited, so we can’t afford to make a mistake that would delay, or worse, cancel our applications.

My parents are not familiar with the system in the U.S., and language is a barrier that has prevented them from getting as involved in the process as I need them to be. The feelings of stress and anxiety over applying to college aren’t healthy for a seventeen year old to deal with on their own.

Long conversations with other international students prove that I am not alone in the stress of having to independently figure out the college application process. Many of us agree that applying to college is only one step of a much more overwhelming process that includes battling for good financial aid, because international students have to pay out-of-state tuition everywhere, and changing our visas in order to study in this country.

As my fellow senior and friend Minsung Kim put it, “Our stress doesn’t go away when January rolls around and college applications are done – it just changes form.”

We are lucky to have very accessible and dedicated counselors at CHS, but with all these obstacles, the school should create targeted support groups for international students, refugees, first generation students, and other minority groups to help us achieve the higher education we want.

This year, I am a part of NC Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a mentoring program that guides Latinx youth throughout their high school years. NC SLI pairs UNC Chapel Hill students with high school student to work one-on-one on applications.

NC SLI has equipped me with the tools to take charge of my future, and it has been a strong support system that I have relied on to get through an overwhelming couple of months. It is crucial that we create more programs like this one at CHS, because every hard working and ambitious student deserves an equal opportunity to reach their goals.

I cannot thank my counselor, Mr Turner, and NC SLI enough for their guidance. But the college application process is still not over, and it’s not too late to help each other out. Whether it’s reading over a friend’s essay or referring them to a mentor program, we need to be there for each other throughout these frustrating, yet exciting, times!


For more information on NC SLI: | +1 919 962 6313 tel