BY: EVE HARRIET
If you're coming from your home country with a college degree in tow, you may be surprised to hear that it might not be immediately accepted in the same way that one from the USA would be.
When I arrived in the US from the U.K., I had no idea the palaver I was about to go through to get my degree recognized! However, I had since come to realize that not all people go through such a hassle; it all comes down to the company you use to evaluate your degree.
I was coming from the U.K. where a bachelors degree is a 3-year course. The USA bachelors is a 4-year study program and therefore some employers may initially think it’s better than the latter. This is why it’s important to get your degree evaluated.
I used a company called Academic and Professional International Evaluation (APIE), mainly because my prospective employer in the US told me to do so. Depending on the line of work you're going into, the employer may have preferences on what company to use for your college evaluation.
The price was set. I had to pay $220 for an in-depth evaluation of my degree course and some other qualifications I had. You may be lucky and only need a general evaluation which will be approximately $100.
It's important to remember that the evaluation company only evaluate what you send them. They do not do any research into the course you did. They do not make calls to your educational institution to get further information: they only evaluate what they have right in front of them.
It’s therefore important that you find out exactly what your job wants from you and be very specific with the evaluation company about what you need them to provide you with. In my case, my degree stated I had a teaching qualification. The job I was applying for in the US needed the evaluation to state I had participated in student teaching but this wasn’t written on my qualification. I just expected it was given that if you have a teacher qualification then the person evaluating would know that you've participated in student teaching.
I was wrong to expect this. The evaluation company could not finalize their evaluation successfully until they had a statement on my teaching training from my college. I had to make contact with the institution; APIE did not (despite the $220 I was paying them).
If you're definitely going to work in the US, I'd make it a priority to get this evaluation done ASAP – mainly because it can take some time, sometimes longer than expected, despite the company promising a certain timeframe. Mine was supposed to take up to 20 business days; it took two months.
My experience was only with one company, I know there are other foreign spouses out there who used different companies and had better experiences than I did.
What you get from an in-depth evaluation: (remember they only evaluate exactly what you send and nothing beyond this)
· Grades for each unit translated into a grade equivalent
· An overview of the degree you studied
· One sealed original copy of your evaluation that must be kept sealed and sent to your potential employer
· Copy of the original
Possible documents to send: (make sure to investigate possible translation needs)
· Your degree
· Your degree grade transcripts for each unit of work
· Your high school or secondary school grades (this could be a deciding factor as some companies will use your last two years of high school as an equivalent to that extra year at university that the Americans do)
· Any other academic qualifications
· Vocational qualifications (Check if necessary)
· No college degree? Even if you're not into getting a degree, you should get your High School Grades printed and translated! You might change your mind later in life.
Be prepared for everything!
· The military community offers tons of scholarships and excessive financial support to military spouses who want to earn a degree. You can read more about your opportunities here.
· If you want your degree evaluated in the US: explore different companies within your future home state. Start your process by reading here.
· Are you working in the field of childcare, law or healthcare? Each state has different regulations and policies for what certificates/licensing you need to qualify to work in these fields in the US.