• Kristen Moon

5 Tips For International Students Applying to a U.S. University

Updated: Apr 3, 2019


Students applying to universities in the United States often tend to underestimate the time it takes to apply for admittance to a university or college. If you want to avoid making the same mistake, you need to set a schedule for yourself and start preparing for the application process well in advance. You will need a lot of time to thoroughly research the institutions and programs, talk to the admissions staff at the university and zero in on your choices. Then you need to meet the application deadlines, which may be up to ten months before the term begins.


For schools that have a competitive admission scene, the application process takes even more time and effort. You need to request recommendations from your teachers and write an impressive personal statement. Even if you are going the Common Application route, it is best to get started early. Let us look at a few things you need to be aware of for starters:

1. Application timeline – It is best to map out all the steps you need to take along with their deadlines. Since standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, and English language tests are often required, the earlier the planning the better. Map out each college's deadlines and ensure you meet them well in advance.

2. Standardized tests – Most of the U.S. universities require you to take at least one standardized admission test to be eligible for the programs they offer. ACT or SAT are often required. TOEFL and IELTS are crucial as well since universities tend to scrutinize the English-speaking abilities of students to get an idea of whether you will be able to participate in class and keep up with all the course work. Give yourself plenty of time to study for each test and ensure the grades reach each college by their deadline.

3, Credential evaluation – School curriculum tend to vary from one country to another, not only in language but in practice too. Many schools that accept students from other countries request the official school status and want verification of the authenticity of the documents. This is where a credential evaluator comes in. You need to submit the transcripts to a credential evaluator who will examine all the credentials and translate the content in the documents into the curriculum of the host country for further review. Check with each school to see if an evaluation or translation of your transcript is needed.

4. Understand the differences – Since education is not centralized in the United States like it is in many countries, the admission requirements can vary greatly from one university to another. So, make sure that you understand all the differences before you apply. The most up-to-date information for each college can be found directly on their website.

5. College application essay – The application essays need to be personal and reflective in nature. As an international student, you bring diversity and a unique culture to the table. It's vital to communicate what makes you an ideal candidate in your essay. A well-written essay takes time. Start reading over the essay topics in advance and brainstorming before you put pen-to-paper.

Applying to a college in the United States takes a lot of time, patience, concentration, and diligence. You won't find any instant gratification and you will reap the rewards only after you have done all the work. Do not wait until the last minute to come up with your game plan. Remember – it is a marathon, not a sprint.

Learn more about the similarities and differences in applying to college as an international vs. domestic student. Check out: International Students - What You Need to Know Before Apply to a U.S.University.


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