The Dual Gruel: Dual Citizenship at Colgate

“International students are defined as students without U.S. citizenship. This definition does not include U.S. dual citizens, permanent residents, or U.S. citizens living abroad.” According to Colgate’s International Applicant page, I, born in New York but raised in Canada, am not considered an international student.

That status did help me. I was able to apply for financial aid through Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, and did not have to bother with (waiving) the TOEFL or IELTS, both English proficiency exams. However, my American citizenship did not fully prepare me for my journey to apply to Colgate.

“What’s a W-2? What’s an I-9?” These questions swirled around my head as I filled out my aid applications and turned to the internet for help. My parents looked on helplessly amidst their own confusion.

Things did not become much clearer once I officially become a Colgate student. More than once, I had sent emails to insurance companies over address confusion, until I made the executive decision to give up and automatically enroll in the student insurance program. The amount of “Don’t forget to complete the 2019-2020 Colgate University Annual Insurance Decision Form” emails that I received was staggering.

Then came Pre-orientation Programs. I had signed up for Maroon-News months in advance before finding out that I would not be able to participate if I am an international student, as they had a separate program. There came a moment of dread before I realized that I, in fact, was not an international student, which worked out just fine for me. I could still continue on with the program I had chosen fear-free, as I did not really need to sit through any immigration workshops.

What I did not anticipate, though, is that the other aspects of the International Student Orientation (ISO) is what I would need help with. I spent a week ahead of my arrival to Colgate arguing with my father about how early I should leave, and whether I should bother getting a driver’s license (“Lalana, you need ID! No dad, I have a G-1!”).

We left the day before my scheduled arrival date, and moved to set up a bank account an hour before I had to go to Res-Life. Turns out, that was not enough time. The lady at the bank had to explain time and time again that I could not give the University’s address as my own, that I had to have been a resident in the US, and that my father would have to fill out a W-8BEN (I still do not know what that is).

Later that night, my father and I set up a phone number. I received an Oregon area code instead of one from New York, which we promptly tried to change. We must have been put on hold for at least 40 minutes before being told there was nothing they could do until September 19.

Though I had the option of joining the ISO, which I am sure is a fantastic program with wonderful people, I had my heart set on Maroon-News. I could not imagine giving up an opportunity to write and spend time with people who wanted to do the same, no matter how much trouble it would have saved me. In my situation, I think having some sort of resource or contact to which I could direct all of my highly-specific and targeted questions would have been ideal. In the future, should Colgate choose to admit more dual students, it would save applicants and students a whole lot more trouble and time if there were a designated office or branch specifically for dual students and the issues they may face. In the meantime, my independent efforts have earned me both an increased capacity for a challenge and my parents’ praise, so I guess the dual gruel was not that cruel.