You’ve carried out research and written down pro and con lists and gone through advice columns and now you’ve finally made a decision that you want to be an international student in the United States. Yet you’re still pondering, “How do I gain admission into college?” The answer, of course, is that you have to apply. And to apply, you have to start by preparing your USA college application.
Preparing Your USA College Application
If you’re applying for admission as an undergraduate candidate, each school will have different but intersecting requirements. The list below includes the most likely pieces you’ll have to include in your undergraduate application, but make sure to check each school’s website for specifics. And don’t forget that a school’s international student center can be a great resource to help you understand all the steps to get into college.
For graduate programs, though several requirements (such as undergraduate transcripts) will be the same, most programs require specific materials relevant to their focus, such as a statement of purpose, research papers you’ve published, writing samples, a portfolio, or something else. Again, check the schools’ websites.
As an international student, you will most likely also be required to complete the TOEFL, a standardized test that measures the English-speaking abilities of non-native speakers.
Undergraduate requirements for international students
- Most schools insist on and/or accept applications via an online platform. The most common for undergraduate degree programs are the Common App, the Coalition for College, and the Universal College Application, though some schools may make use of their own application process instead. The application form will request for details like your name and the name of your secondary or high school, your GPA, extracurricular undertakings you take part in, and several other items.
- Each application requires a fee generally in the range of $30-90. If the cost is prohibitive, though, you may be able to get the fee waived.
- Every application requires your secondary school transcript. As a foreign candidate, you’ll require both the transcript in its original language and, if applicable, a certified English translation. Your school has to arrange for the transcript, and also any official results or certificates of completion from national secondary school examinations, straight to the colleges you’re applying to.
- Your SAT, ACT, and/or SAT Subject Test scores should be sent directly to the schools you’re applying to by the test administrator either during or immediately following the exams.
- Essays are often mandatory, and serve to exemplify why you’re you and what you can bring to the school and its community. Schools that request for an essay or statement of purpose typically provide a prompt or a topic to help direct you in your writing.
- You will most likely need to submit at least one letter of recommendation. These letters should be written by a teacher, coach, or school counselor who can share with the school a more personal side of you and must be sent directly by the writer to the school. Make sure to check each school’s requirements about who should write the recommendations.
- Most schools will ask for a list of extracurricular activities you are involved with, both in and out of school. This can comprise the school newspaper, band, sports teams, scouts, volunteer work, hobbies, etc. These undertakings, jobs, and awards offer the schools a look at your variety of interests and your participation in the community, the arts, and leadership.
- Some schools request an interview with applicants. The interviews are typically held with a former student of the school or with an admissions agent and are a great opportunity for you to show off your personality.
Things to keep in mind when Preparing Your USA College Application
- While you’re getting your official documents translated and studying for standardized tests, don’t forget that everything must be completed in time to send in the entire application to the schools of your choice. Work backward to figure out the deadlines you need to hit and then make sure to hit them.
- When you dispatch your application materials, whether by mail, via an electronic platform, or through a third party, don’t anticipate to get anything back. It’s therefore very crucial to keep copies of everything for reference or in case something gets missing.
- If you’re sending documents through the mail, allow enough time for the package to reach relevant schools before the application deadline, and assume there will be delays (especially for international mail). If your mail or delivery service provides it, dispatch everything using a method that involves tracking and/or signature or other notification upon delivery so you can stay apprised about the package’s location.
- Attending college in the USA is expensive. Begin to look into scholarship awards, financial aid, loans, and grants obtainable to foreign students before completing your college applications in the event there are relevant openings with early closing dates. However, note that U.S. government aid for foreign students is very limited and you may not be qualified for it.
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