Although his parents are from China and his mother went to college in Canada, Ontario high-school senior William Xiao explains that he has “always felt like more of an American than a Canadian.”
“I grew up watching football unlike my hockey-crazed friends,” Xiao wrote in an email, adding that he “can name all 50 states and a few presidents.”
Because of his identification, Xiao started preparing to apply to an American university in 10th grade.
“I picture myself living in the United States and would want to pursue an education there as well,” he added.
“Penn was always a school I was interested in,” Xiao, who attends Bayview Secondary School in Ontario, explained.
As he studied for the SATs and subject tests his junior year, he became “more confident and determined,” he added.
Out of around 500 students in each grade at his high school, only a handful are admitted to Ivy League universities every year, Xiao wrote.
Last year, 4,390 international students applied to Penn, and 9.4 percent were admitted, according to the University’s website.
Of the international students who enrolled last year, 15.5 percent were from Canada or Mexico.
“We don’t really have private universities in Canada,” said College freshman Stephanie Li, who is the Class of 2015 liaison to the Canadian Club at Penn, which was founded in 1999.
Canadian universities are “larger and less personal,” Li said, explaining that students often commute to college and tend to stay close to home. “The environment at American universities is much more dynamic and focused.”
Canadian students are “international students but not quite,” Li added, referencing the fact that, unlike other international students, Canadian students enjoy a need-blind financial aid like domestic students, as do those from Mexico.
This policy is “definitely a plus” and “served as an additional reason to apply,” Xiao said.
Although it didn’t factor into her decision, Li agreed that Penn’s need-blind policy allows some of her fellow Canadians to attend the University.
Because he aspires to pursue a career in business and finance, Xiao was particularly attracted to the Wharton School.
If he is not admitted through early decision, Xiao plans on applying to other Canadian universities, as well as American universities that are “business” and “finance-oriented.”
In addition to being attracted to Penn’s pre-professional feel, Xiao said he would enjoy the extracurricular activities that Penn has to offer, such as the Penn Band and singing groups.
“I’ve always been a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Xiao wrote. “[I] would definitely love to watch LeSean McCoy or Michael Vick rush for a touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field.”
This article has been updated from its original version to reflect that Penn’s need-blind policy did not factor into Li’s decision to attend the University.
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