students in an international youth program sit in class listening to a presentation

New Program Helps International High School Students Prepare for College

This summer, International Programs at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education kicked off its inaugural UC Davis College Preparation Summer Academy. The three-week college prep program is designed to help international 11th and 12th grade students gain the necessary skills and tips to successfully apply to American Universities. The UC Davis College Preparation Summer Academy program is open to international students attending high school in the U.S. as well as international high schoolers living abroad.  

“Applying to college is an important, yet often overwhelming time for high school students. And it can be particularly stressful for international students whose native language is not English and who may not be as familiar with the American university system,” says Sandy Montross, program manager of International Access and Youth Programs at UC Davis. “The goal of this program is help give these students the confidence and appropriate preparation they need to understand college application requirements and improve their college essay-writing abilities, as well as providing a first-hand experience of college life.”  

A major component of the program is to help students understand the U.S. college admissions process (particularly UC colleges) and learn best practices for how to respond to personal insight questions for college application essays, which have become a significant part of the application process. Students also focus on improving their academic skills, including writing and reading skills, organizational and leadership skills, and critical thinking, as well as English language fluency.  

“My goal was to understand how to write a college essay and improve my English,” said Zainab Waqar, a Davis High School student from Pakistan. “In this program, I was able to write two college essays with a deep evaluation given by my teacher on how to improve them, and I learned different ways to increase my vocabulary.”  

According to Huaizhe Chen, a Chinese student studying in the Bay Area, being able to improve his English and academic skills while still in high school will help him feel more prepared when he gets to college. Chaucer, another student from China currently studying in the Bay Area, agreed. “I learned some useful information about UC universities and how to write an essay. I'm sure that I will use the skills that l learned from the program in the future. ”

Aside from walking away with increased skills and college essays in hand, students also gain an in-depth understanding of the application process itself. “I learned lots of useful information about UC systems and the things I need to do to apply for these colleges,” noted Chen. “It makes me realize that I should think about every aspect of the school rather than using rankings on US News as the only standard.”  

Learn More

For more information about the program, contact Nari Fujita.

During the program, students live in the UC Davis residence halls on campus, experiencing firsthand what it’s like to attend a Tier 1 research institution. This unique opportunity not only gives students a sense of what it’s like to live in the dorms, but it also helps them understand some of the cultural aspects of higher education in the U.S. “Residence halls at UC Davis are amazing!” said Chen.  

Students who complete the program earn 2 units of UC Davis academic credit. The program consists of five hours of daily instruction in academic skills, application essay writing and academic success building, as well as weekly special presentations and weekend activities and site visits to other UC campuses. View a sample schedule.  

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