International Education Week – Step 3: Complete Your Application

By the time you have researched your options and thought of ways to finance your study, you should have a short list of institutions in which you’d like to apply. A good goal is to have 3-6 institutions on your short list, including a range of selectivity.

Applying for U.S. study is a task that takes time and concentration as each application is different and involves collecting recommendations, writing essays, and routing the results of required standard examinations. In many cases, applications are due 6-10 months before you plan to start classes at the institution. You should consider your target date for beginning your studies and verify the deadlines on the institution’s website well in advance. It can take a considerable amount of time to fill out application forms, to request and translate educational transcripts, to order copies of test scores, and to register for classes so plan to give this step the time it deserves for a successful result.

In the United States, application requirements can vary greatly from one institution to another. It is best to check the specific requirements on the website of each institution’s international admissions office.

Community Colleges

General application requirements:

  • Online application form
  • Educational credentials:These are typically your secondary/high school diploma and transcripts, translated into English.
  • Standardized test scores:ACT/SAT, and other test scores may be accepted to assess your academic ability; however, these tests are not usually required for admission to community colleges. Upon arrival, you will most likely take placement tests in the area of study.
  • Other forms: Depending on the institution you may need to supply forms such as financial information, proof of health insurance, vaccination records, passport and visa information.

Since community colleges usually have rolling admissions or periodic application deadlines throughout the year, the timeline for applying is more fluid than for a four-year college or university.

Undergraduate Institutions

General application requirements:

  • Online application form
  • Educational credentials: This is typically your secondary/high school diploma and transcripts, as well as any final national exams required in your country. Transcripts are certified copies of your educational record, courses, and grades covering the last four years of academic study. An original transcript or certified copy sent by your secondary/high school is generally required for each institution you apply to for admission.
  • Standardized test scores:ACT/SAT, and other test scores may be accepted to assess your academic ability.
  • Recommendation letters:The head or principal of your school, your school counselor, your personal tutor, teachers, coaches, or supervisors from professional experiences may write recommendation letters. Your recommenders must be able to write about your work and be able to assess your potential to do well pursuing a higher education degree. Many institutions require three recommendation letters, typically one from a counselor and two from teachers. Be sure to check requirements and choose people who know you well.
  • Essay/personal statement: This is your chance to write about your interests, long-term goals, and strengths – one of the most important aspects of your application.

It is typical for U.S. undergraduate applications to be due between November and January for students who wish to begin courses the following September.

Graduate Institutions

General application requirements:

  • Personal data/Online application form
  • Personal statement:The personal statement gives you the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are as an individual. Your statement should be clear, concise, and persuasive. Highlight your unique strengths, skills, or teaching experiences to show the institution that you are a good match with their program and department.
  • Standardized test scores:Depending on your field of study, you may be required to take a standardized test for admission to graduate school such as the GRE (Graduate Record Exam), GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), LSAT (Law School Admission Test) or MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
  • Transcript: Your transcript is a list of classes you completed in your undergraduate studies and the grades you received in each class.
  • Recommendation letters:Ask past professors, administrators, or employers to write your letters of recommendation. Your recommenders should write in depth about your work and assess your potential to do well as a graduate student.

For graduate study, you are likely to have institutional and departmental application requirements. Please check the specific requirements for international graduate admissions on the website of each institution.