Counselor Toolkit

A resource for counselors who advise international students attending US high schools as well as secondary schools which are considering enrolling such students

Counselor Toolkit: A Resource for Counselors of International Students Attending High school in the US

This toolkit has been produced by the NACAC International Advisory Committee and the NEACAC Ad Hoc Committee on Resources for Counselors of International Students. It has two primary purposes: 1) To assist counselors in advising international students attending high school in the US on the college admission process. 2) To provide secondary schools who enroll or are considering enrolling international students with critical areas of consideration to ensure the school is prepared to successfully support these students.

High School Admission

International students undertake study at US high schools through various means including exchange programs and agency agreements.

Supporting International Students at High School

Ensuring effective processes are in place to support international students' academic and social development is important.

College Counseling for International Students

Counseling international students varies in significant ways from counseling domestic students.

Transitioning to College

Once an international student has been accepted to a college, transitioning to that institution often includes additional processes.

Toolkit Highlights

If your school has decided to enroll international students, there is a good chance that administrators have decided to contract with an international student recruitment agent or agency for recruitment purposes. Note that working with agencies is not the only recruitment option. Sending a representative to a recruitment fair in the desired international location, partnering with a high school abroad, or utilizing print or online advertising or social media-based outreach are effective strategies. Read More
International students (non-citizens) are not eligible for the federal aid that US citizens receive. Very few US schools offer need-based aid for international students, and the competition for that aid is fierce. Check with each school or college on their admissions and/or financial aid web page for required documents and deadlines. Read More
Students should strive to matriculate at a college or university which can best foster their intellectual and personal growth. Location, size, academic offerings, the student body, and campus environment, among other things, all influence whether an institution is a strong fit for a particular student. Read More
A company (agency) or individual (agent) contracted and paid by universities in other countries to advise and recruit students to their institutions. Usually, the agency/agent is paid by its partner university only if and after a student enrolls and begins taking classes. This payment is often a percentage of a student's tuition fees, or a flat rate, and is called a commission. Agents are most likely to recommend the universities they represent, but may also be able to help students apply to universities that are not their partners. Read More


Percent Increase in the Number of Exchange Students Between Fall 2004 and Fall 2013


Percent of Diploma-Seeking students at US high schools from China in 2013


Percent of International Students on Cultural Exchange Programs who are from Europe in 2013

Who is an International Student?

Governments and organizations have different ways of defining who is an international student. Citizenship is the most commonly used characteristic. In the United States, “foreign students” typically mean students who are not US citizens or permanent residents and who have entered the country on one of several different kinds of nonimmigrant visas. Residency is another characteristic that can be used to define international students. Organizations interested in student mobility include students who leave one country for another for the purpose of study, regardless of citizenship. This includes US citizens who have lived overseas and are now attending school in the United States. While their passport eliminates the need for a visa, these students may have had limited-to-no experience living in the US and could require English language support and help with cultural adjustment.

Fundamentals of Recruiting and Counseling International Students

Fundamentals of Recruiting and Counseling International Students

Gain practical knowledge, skills, and tools to enhance your effectiveness in working with international students and families, as well as your colleagues around the world.

Learn more