A collective case study was conducted to determine weather Abilene Christian University (ACU) and Harding University (Harding) are effectively responding to and supporting U.S. citizens applying from outside of the U.S.. These applicants are referred to as third culture kids (TCKs) who are children and adolescents living overseas as a result of their parents’ professions.

As part of the literature review, a list of suggested best practices for admissions offices with regard to TCKs was created. Results from surveys of current and recently graduated TCKs from ACU and Harding, as well as interviews with admissions officers who work with TCK applicants were analyzed in light of these suggested best practices.

Most of the suggested best practices are reflected in admissions practices at ACU and Harding. Yet, it is clear from the responses of counselors and TCKs at both schools that there is a lack of institutional commitment to proactively communicate understanding and affirmation of the TCK experience, and to give them the attention and guidance through the admissions process that is afforded to their U.S.-based peers.

TCKs and their families, college and university admissions offices and college counselors at international schools could benefit from this research. For TCKs and their families, the analysis of the TCK survey would provide insights into the challenges of negotiating the college choice process from overseas. The literature review and results from interviews with admissions counselors would also give insight into the challenges faced by university admissions offices with regard to overseas applicants.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | International and Intercultural Communication