Starting Over In A University Overseas - Can Be Done?
August 12, 2005 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Related to this question (and actually asked there but with no reply) - Is it possible for an international student to start all over again in a university somewhere else even if s/he's done prior university work in their home country?

Currently I am in a university in Malaysia, halfway through my first year (I had done a year of Foundation at the same uni last year, and I performed decently).

Due to some sort of referencing & plagiarism snafu at the uni, which isn't my fault, I have a "X - Needs supplementary work" grade, which is equivalent to a 0 in GPA. I could get an equivalent of a C- if I do the supplementary work (basically, redoing an essay) but right now the situation is very complicated and while I had done the work, I don't know if everything will be processed fine. As it is, I've deferred this semester to be on a study-abroad program, and our uni's very disorganized.

When I come back next sem, I would most likely finish off my first year (second semester). I may start all over again from the first year, perhaps overseas (Australia, Canada, US, wherever), but I'm wondering if the overseas unis will want to see my previous transcripts. The X grade would be a bad mark on my otherwise-OK transcript, and I'm not sure they'd accept "My uni got mixed up and graded me, only to pull back the grade and accuse me of plagiarism without proof, even though I used my own ideas, so this isn't my fault" as a reason.

Anyone have any insight on this? Can I start all over again? Will I need to get the transcripts still? I'm not worried about credit transfer, just if I myself can transfer.

(sorry if that made no sense; do ask for clarification if needed)
posted by divabat to Education (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're starting university for the first time, you wouldn't have any previous transcripts, right? RIGHT?
posted by smackfu at 6:44 AM on August 12, 2005

I can't give you much advice except that the universities will want to see your transcripts.

Is there any prof at your school who knows what happened and can provide an explanation? I had some really bad grades on my undergrad transcript, and when I applied to my master's my advisors explained those grades in their letters of recommendation. This can go a really long way to making up for something that looks terrible (my lowest grade was probably worth 0 in the grade point system: 12% yikes!)
posted by carmen at 6:45 AM on August 12, 2005

Why would she have to show transcripts if the idea is to start over from scratch... especially if she's starting over in a new country?

"Have you ever attended a university before?"
posted by Witty at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2005

Most universities (at least the ones with which I am familiar) will not count the GPA from your old school, just the credits. If you fail this class, they just won't give you the credits for it. If you got an A, same thing. It can work for you or against you.

Of course, if you plan on going into grad school or medical school or some other academic program after graduating, they willlook at that old grade. And if you don't show your old transcript to them, it will probably go badly for you.

So, the question is: do you want to go to grad school? If so, you should work things out with this "X" class. Otherwise, you shouldn't need to worry too much.
posted by voltairemodern at 6:52 AM on August 12, 2005

From my (outsider's) experience, in the US you'd need your high school grades, and cash to pay the fees. You can do as much uni as you like here, as long as you continue to pay. The more competitive the school, the more likely they'll look at your transcript, however.
posted by carter at 7:24 AM on August 12, 2005

Am I missing something here? divabat said she is willing to START OVER. I assume that means that she is prepared to put all of her prior university experience in Malaysia behind and pretend as though it never happened. If that is the case, then, there is no transcript to show any university in The States. As far as they know, this is the first time you've ever attended college, so why would they ask for a transcript? They wouldn't (other than one from your high school or whatever the equivalent may be). Simple as that, to me.
posted by Witty at 7:29 AM on August 12, 2005

My US Uni wanted to see *all* my transcripts, from high school on. This was for grad school though.
posted by carter at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2005

Best answer: My high school and first two unis being in the UK.

divabat, you might just try getting some application forms from US (or whatever country you are interested in), and see what the app requires, and what you have to tell them. If you do have to submit all records, I'm sure a blip on an otherwise good record will not be seen too negatively.
posted by carter at 8:00 AM on August 12, 2005

Best answer: Is it possible for an international student to start all over again in a university somewhere else even if s/he's done prior university work in their home country?

The answer of course, is a resounding yes in the US, though I can't speak for non-American systems. In fact, many universities will refuse to accept some of your credits, and force you to retake classes with very similar material, especially if they are directly relevant to your major.

On to the sticky situation of the grades, there are two scenarios:

You are applying to a somewhat-to-less competitive school, and they won't care if you've had a bad semester for some reason, especially if you can explain it well with a dashing letter. My advice in this situation would be to go ahead and document your academic career honestly.

You are applying to a very competitive school, and they DO care. However, they're also probably going to ask what you've been doing for the last year of your life, in which case somebody somewhere may get really pissed if they find out you lied on your application. I would be honest here too, but I think many people on AskMe would disagree with me.

My summarizing advice is not to put too much stock in grades. They're important, but they are rarely the only demonstration of somebody's abilities on a college application.

Good luck!
posted by onalark at 8:07 AM on August 12, 2005

Best answer: My advice. Apply for any school you want and send them anything they require, including transcripts you aren't proud of. Don't explain anything that isn't asked. However, if they don't explicitly say "send everything", don't send everything. Importantly -- DON'T LIE. But also don't volunteer.
Also, DO NOT MENTION PLAGIARISM. It is never the student's fault, and will only invite questions. If asked about the grade, just say you had problems meeting the professor's requirements. It's better to look like you screwed up, than to look like you may have been involved in an ethics situation, nomatter how right you are. Especially if you're coming from Malaysia. It's not fair to you, but a lot of cheaters come from Asian countries, and you don't want to be lumped in with them from the beginning. Better to appear a slacker, then you'll fit right in!
posted by dness2 at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2005

carter writes "My US Uni wanted to see *all* my transcripts, from high school on."

Doesn't mean you have to give them to them. Heck it's a bitch and a half to get the transcripts you _want_ the University to see from out of country. If your not trying to get credit and your entering a undergrad program I doubt you'd have a problem. If your ever called out on it just play stupid. Something along the lines of: "I thought you just wanted transcripts of stuff I got credit for."
posted by Mitheral at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2005

Response by poster: smackfu - I have a transcript from the past semester, as well as 2 transcripts for the Foundation work (though that counts as pre-u).

Thanks everyone! I was more worried about the legalities of the situation - it would suck if I thought I did everything OK and then something breaks down due to some paperwork problem.
posted by divabat at 5:50 PM on August 12, 2005

Response by poster: Oh and another thing - I don't plan to go to graduate school, just restarting an undergrad program. So thanks for the clarification.
posted by divabat at 5:51 PM on August 12, 2005

Response by poster: One last thing! Sorry.

If I end up going to the USA, do I apply as a freshman or as a transfer? I assume freshman but I just wanted to make sure.

Thank you.
posted by divabat at 5:54 PM on August 12, 2005

This last question is for the admissions office of the relevant school. I seem to recall that in my school requesting non-freshman status meant you would be able to transfer X credits to the new school. I'm guessing that if you aren't planning on transferring credits, freshman status is correct. Beware that you may not qualify for scholarships that require you to be entering your first year of college (I think it depends on how the requirements are worded).

You've somewhat exhausted this AskMe, but feel free to use the email in my profile if you have further questions of this nature.
posted by onalark at 4:38 AM on August 13, 2005

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