Step 1: Homologación

Back to paperwork and logistics. Let me catch you all up here in the most straightforward way I can. Bullet points.

Homologa(th)ion is the first hurdle over which you must fling yourself on your journey to becoming an international student. 

Why? When applying, keep in mind:

–  Your college credits mean nothing.

Unless you already have concrete credits towards exactly the program you want to do (say calculus credit for a computer science major) your wishy washy gen-ed liberal arts credits mean nothing. You are starting from scratch.

– You are a normal Spanish High School graduate, with a Spanish High School diploma.

What’s that you say? You are a US American High School graduate with a US American diploma? You’re going to have to fix that. In the eyes of the Spanish school system no diploma is valid for entrance unless it has been “homologado” aka the government authorizes that your diploma is roughly equivalent to a Spanish one.

How do I fix this?

This is how you fix this: 

1. You need a notarized transcript from your school(s)

Maybe they have an in-house notary who will do it for a small fee. Or maybe they have to call in a notary to do it for a large fee. In any case, unless you go to a school with a lot of abroad-bound students, the administrative staff will likely be confused at this request. Don’t let that dissuade you. You don’t need a wax seal or whatever other authentication method they might use. You need a government notarized signature. If you have a 5 part transcript from the various high schools you briefly went to while on tour with your rock band, you need to get all 5 parts of your transcript separately notarized by the separate schools on their separate locations, separately.

NOTE: The schools, who are unfamiliar with this process, may suggest you fork out money for 3 copies of your transcript “just in case”. If you want to play it safe power to you, but I did this and as of now I have only touched exactly 2 (one for each school) of the 5 copies I now have. If it’s cheap or money is not an issue go ahead, but don’t feel like it is mandatory because it isn’t. Plus theoretically you can always go back and get more if it becomes an issue.

FEE COUNT: +1 (+1 to bring in notary to school, +1 for each additional copy, or part of complete transcript) [Total: 1]

MY FEE COUNT: +6 [Total: 6]

2. You need to bring your notarized transcripts to the consulate

Congratulations. This is the first time in your process that you actually need to go to the consulate to get something done. Based on my own experience, and stories I’ve heard from others, the only way you will be able to get anything done at the Spanish consulate with any sort of expediency is to get on a first-name-basis with one particular person who does the doing. This is the person you will walk to the front of the line and request by name every time you go. You want to find a person in the education department who deals with students. For the full article on my experience with the navigating the consulate click here.

I lied?? Yes I lied. You don’t actually need need to go in at this point. The consulate can’t actually do anything with your notarized transcripts until they have been Apostilized by the US government at the US Secretary of State in your state capital (convenient, no?). However! Now is the time to begin the journey with your consulate ally. Get them to give you a paper with a checklist of everything you need to do, because who knows what might change between now and this Thursday. One second they said I needed to professionally translate my transcript, then, when I brought my Apostilized transcript in, translation didn’t even come up. Also apparently sometimes they need an Apostilized and notarized diploma, but it doesn’t really matter, or maybe it does. Don’t try to anticipate the random legal happenings on your own.

3. You need to go to the state capital with your notarized papers

*Note: This may include your diploma if the consulate tells you to!* You will drive/bus/jetski to your nearest state capital. For me this was a 2-hour drive along various small-time wildfires to the desert city of Sacramento. You will find the Secretary of State, ask for directions, find the Apostile office, follow the signs, take a deli-line number, and pay another fee per Apostilization. Maybe later, while you are milking the last of your prepaid parking meter, you will accidentally crash a government employee fair and get free ice cream.

FEE COUNT: +1 (+1 any additional transcript parts to be apostilized, +1 transportation fees- bridge, busfare, extra gas etc) [Total: 2]

MY FEE COUNT: +4 [Total: 10]

4. You will return to your consulate buddy with your paperwork

Depending on how organized and together you have been with your consulate buddy up to this point, you may already have the exact quote for the amount of Euros you will have to pay for the fee. Maybe you even did the bank transfer. Did I say fee? Yes. The administrative fee. I’m going to move forward on the assumption that you are taking things one at a time, and you haven’t made it to this yet. If you live far from the consulate or are working with a tight schedule and need to be really efficient about your trips then I suggest you get this taken care of while still on stage 3, as well as getting your passport. There is really no reason to not get that stuff taken care of first, unless you forgot about it like me, but also the more times you go and check-in the longer the arc of bonding will be with your consulate friend.

You will do the following things on this consulate visit: Get an exact quote and the bank info for the government fee transfer; fill out some preliminary paperwork for you homologacion application; present your documents; double check over the checklist with your rep for everything that you already have an everything that you still need.

{Continued in part 2}

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