It’s crucial for international students to know and understand the different requirements they need from U.S. students. For non-native English speakers, this includes taking the TOEFL exam. The TOEFL is an English-language test that students and athletes must take if they plan on going to college in the United States.
Colleges and universities across the country use the TOEFL for their international student admissions. The TOEFL is a cumulative exam of four language skills: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. English comprehension is the key to academic success in the United States, so the test is designed to test the level in which international students can read and understand English. The TOEFL test is available in both paper and internet-based versions, in countries all over the world. It usually costs $160-250 US and is offered dozens of times throughout the year.
As an athlete, the NCAA and NAIA do not require the TOEFL as part of the submitted scores in order to be eligible. But, in addition to the TOEFL (that is required by colleges and universities), you will still need to take the SAT or ACT exam, which is required to compete at the NCAA and NAIA levels. The TOEFL does not take place of either the SAT or ACT so it is crucial that you plan on taking the TOEFL as well. You will need it to be admitted to any school that you want to compete for.
International athletes also have to acquire an F-1 Visa and SEVIS Form I-20, which can affect their ability to earn an athletic scholarship. International student-athletes who get an athletic scholarship should know that if the amount of the scholarship is less than the amount needed for the I-20, students will need to supply extra forms of financial aid. The cost to attend college in the U.S. is very expensive so international athletes need prepare to contribute financially even with an athletic scholarship, or if you lose the scholarship.
Here are some other helpful tips for international student athletes:
- Contact College Coaches First: College coaches here in the U.S. will not find you on their own. Since you do not live here in the States, they do not have the same access to your competitions as they would with domestic athletes. That means you have to work twice as hard to get their attention. Start looking at the various colleges in the U.S. and send coaches your information. It’s the best way to gain exposure from other countries!
- Use Video: Video becomes exponentially more crucial for international athletes. Most U.S. college coaches do not have the budget to come watch you compete internationally and most of the time you can’t afford numerous trips to the states. So a good highlight video and game footage are very important for international athletes to gain interest from college coaches. Make sure your video will get their attention!
- Do Your Research: Coming to the U.S. for college is a lengthy and complicated process for international athletes. It is also very expensive. If you and your family do not have the means to afford at least part of the cost of attending college here, it may not happen for you. Partial scholarships can help, but unless you are an international elite athlete, it is unlikely you will earn a full scholarship. Be prepared to do your research to help find any opportunity you can.