Once you have decided what criteria you are looking for in a US educational institution and narrowed down your selection to a few choice schools, the next step is beginning the application process. As a general guideline, you should start this step no later than 12 months before the date you plan to start studying in the US. Here is the step-by-step process for applying to US schools.
- Check the application deadline – Many colleges have deadlines for applications and won’t accept submissions after that date has passed, so make sure you know when your application must be submitted.
- Review the application – Most schools now accept applications online, so check the school’s website to begin the process. You will want to review what degree programs are offered and what the enrollment requirements are for your chosen field of study. Look for essay requirements, letters of recommendations needed, and any fees associated with applying.
- Complete a preliminary application – You may need to submit a preliminary application for an initial background review so the institution can determine if you are a good fit for their program before you submit the full application.
- Pay the application fee – Most schools charge a nonrefundable application fee to start the process.
- Write your essay – Virtually all schools require at least one (often several) personal essays that involve you describing your background, academic goals, previous accomplishments, and why you want to attend their school. They may also provide you with essay topics to address. If English is not your native language, get someone to review your essay and correct any errors because schools will look at how well you can communicate in English.
- Submit your academic records – You will need an official copy of your academic transcript from all schools you previously attended. If your records aren’t in English, you will need to submit an official translation with your academic records.
- Submit test results – Most schools will require admission tests such as SAT, Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Depending on your degree program, you may also need to take placement tests in specific subjects to assess your knowledge in that particular area.
- Submit letters of recommendation – Some colleges will require one or more adults who know you well to write a letter of recommendation describing your academic or professional achievements.
- Schedule your interview – Many schools require an interview which may be conducted by alumni in your home country, by staff members at recruitment fairs or sometimes over the internet/Skype.
- Prepare health forms and insurance documents – You will need a health examination with a signed doctor’s certificate and proof that you have health insurance.
- Prepare financial documentation – You will also need to certify that you have the resources required to pay for your study in the USA.
- Fill out financial aid forms – If the institution you are applying to offers financial aid, you will need to submit the application form.
Once you have completed the application process, the school will evaluate all documents you received. If they accept you, you will receive an offer of admission along with an information packet about the school and what you need to know to enter the college. This will usually include information about on-campus housing, meal plan options, orientation programs, any additional fees, student clubs, and forms to complete.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of these steps, AAE provides school placement and virtual counseling services to help you put together a great application. You may also find our Webinar: How To Apply to US Colleges helpful.