International students admitted to highly selective colleges – like Ivy League colleges – tend to have higher standardized test scores as compared to applicants from the United States. Does this surprise you that they often have higher SAT scores? It shouldn’t. It’s one of the advantages that international students bring to the table in highly selective college admissions. Sure, they’ve got their disadvantages, too. Their writing is often subpar. Their understanding of English can range dramatically. Their college essays are frequently written by others (rather than themselves) and college admissions counselors quite often look the other way. So their ethics aren’t exactly an advantage.
But those high SAT scores boost the school’s mean score. They boost their ranking in “US News & World Report.” And the international students aren’t getting financial aid. They’re paying the full cost of tuition (a.k.a. “full freight”). That makes up for a whole bunch of students from within the United States who need financial aid. Money doesn’t grow on trees for universities. But money sure does grow on trees when it comes to international students as they’ve got it to spend. A college doesn’t have to dip into its endowment when it admits international applicants.
There are pluses and minuses when a highly selective university admits many applicants. The football player with low ACT scores hurts the mean for “US News & World Report” but he helps the football team win games. And that leads to more donations and a bigger endowment — which is all good for a university. The international student often helps boost the university’s mean standardized testing scores. But when they get into college classrooms, their lack of fluency can be problematic to say the least! What happens when they have to write that first fifteen or twenty page paper? Oh boy.