Liz Perelstein, Chair, School Choice International, which provides college placement worldwide
No, it isn't necessary. Colleges and universities in the US accept students who have matriculated from secondary schools worldwide. They have international admissions officers who are responsible for understanding the education system in other countries and evaluating credentials. Both students who are American, studying abroad, and students of other nationalities, are evaluated by the international admissions departments.
It can be difficult, however, for students coming from other countries to fulfill requirements of US universities unless they know in advance and plan for them. For example:
--US universities may require that students take certain subjects to be eligible for admissions. In the UK, for example, where students specialize between ages 14 and 16, they may not take the mathematics courses that are prerequisites for entry at certain universities.
--Also, extracurricular activities and community service are expected by many universities in making admissions decisions. In China, for example, where students spend all of their time studying for coursework and college entrance examinations, they don't have time for the extracurricular activities that college admissions officers like.
--Finally, students who study abroad may not have experience taking tests like the SAT or the ACT that are generally (but no longer always) required for US college admissions. Preparing for these tests prior to taking them is important so that applicants are familiar with the material they will be tested on, understand the kinds of questions they will be asked and, perhaps most crucial, are practiced in the timing which is critical for getting through the test questions.
Students who do their homework by the early years of high school can be compelling applicants to any US university. Engaging a US college consultant can help them understand how they need to prepare and help them make decisions that will ensure competitive applications.