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A Guide to Applying to University in the US

7 minute read
Studying in the United States has drawn the attention of thousands of students worldwide. Home to some of the top universities, many graduates carry their school pride with them for their entire lives. The United States university experience boasts prestigious institutions, a high quality of education, and an exciting lifestyle.
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Mar 27, 2023
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Studying in the United States has drawn the attention of thousands of students worldwide. Home to some of the top universities, many graduates carry their school pride with them for their entire lives. The United States university experience boasts prestigious institutions, a high quality of education, and an exciting lifestyle.

Why Should I Apply for University in the US?

A university degree from an educational institution in the United States holds international recognition. It is evidence of your commitment to furthering your education and your dedication to striving for excellence. Your degree from a US university will open doors for you professionally and help you work toward your career goals. Not to mention, applying to study in the US will allow you to experience life there. You can travel anywhere in the United States that you wish and explore all of its unique offerings and opportunities. In addition, your education in the US could become a pathway to US employment. Studying in the US is an attractive option for students everywhere. If you are interested in making this move, there are steps you should take to ensure a smooth and successful application process.

1. Consider Which Universities You Want to Attend

It is vital to select the right university for you. The United States has thousands of universities and over 750,000 international students studying at them. There are many schools to explore, so be sure to consider the benefits of each one you are interested in. Think strategically about which schools interest you and could give you a good chance at acceptance.

Most international university students in the US attend schools in New York, California, or Texas. Some of the universities that admit and host the highest number of international students in the US are:

  • New York University
  • University of Southern California
  • Columbia University

Some universities welcome international students to a higher degree than American students. The following universities admit more than half of their students internationally:

  • Northeastern University
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Inquire with International Admissions Offices

Contact a school's international admissions office to help you select a university and decide if it would be a good fit for you. By getting in touch with the school, you can have all your questions answered and gain an understanding of their international admissions requirements. An international admissions office can be your primary contact for ensuring you meet your chosen university's expectations throughout your application process, and they can continue to help you with all further questions about life as an international student on their campus.

2. Collect All Required Documents

You must supply a few different forms of documentation when applying to a US university as an international student. It is essential to follow all international admissions requirements as per the university to which you are applying. There will be an application form, and you should carefully ensure you enter all your information correctly. There will also be other steps you will need to take. For example, you may need to have your transcripts with all your grades evaluated. You will also likely need to pass any language proficiency tests. Some applications also require you to provide strong letters of recommendation from teachers. All of these pieces of documentation should be submitted on time to ensure that your application is processed before any deadlines pass.

Language Tests

To be admitted to an educational institution in the United States, you must demonstrate that you have strong English language skills. Your English ability is important because your courses and education in the US will be delivered in English, and you need to have a solid understanding of the language to be successful at school. Therefore, most universities will require international students to pass an English language proficiency test such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Transcript Evaluation

United States universities require all international students to undergo a transcript evaluation. Your transcript is a record of your grades from your prior education. A transcript evaluation will allow US admissions offices to understand your grades, as grading systems can differ in each country. It is important to do well in school and get the best grades if you hope to study in the US. Your grades will be an important factor in the university’s decision to offer you a position to study at their school.

3. Take the SAT or ACT

The United States uses standardized testing to determine the educational ability of an international student. You may be required to take and pass the SAT or ACT. While this is not a requirement at every university, many universities have this expectation. If you need to take one of these tests, you will need to register in advance. It is important to plan to take the test well in advance and give yourself time to prepare to aim for a high score. The university you are applying to may list the minimum score on these tests they will accept, so you should plan accordingly and study as required.

Study Tips

To set yourself up for success on the SAT or ACT, be sure to gain a good understanding of the structure and content of the test. You should have a goal in mind for the score you aim to achieve and take multiple practice tests. Many SAT study guides and books are available to help with your preparation, and these can help you keep track of your studying to ensure that you are preparing yourself the right way.

4. Write a Strong Admissions Essay

United States universities usually require applicants to write an essay to submit with their application. Your admission essay should be well-written and compelling. As an international student, you would benefit from sharing perspectives that are unique to you and your life experiences to show the admissions office why you would be a great addition to their university. Your essay should be memorable and share stories that only you can share. Find ways to demonstrate what makes you a strong candidate.

5. Submit your application

Once you are sure that you have met all the requirements and passed every test, you need to submit your application and pay any application fees. If you do not pay an application fee, you risk your application not being considered. It is important that you follow every step listed by the university and consistently check if you have received any communications from them.

US University Application Timeline for International Students

Applications are usually open for students to apply from November to January. Check with your university to know of exact dates. After the January deadline, you can no longer submit your application. Offers of acceptance are typically sent to students in March or April. Students who apply early in November may hear back earlier than other students. Most universities will need students to accept or decline their offer of acceptance by May 1st to start studying in September.

6. Get Accepted

Congratulations! You will receive a formal acceptance letter if you have been admitted to a US university. You will be informed of any next steps you will need to take to officially accept your offer of admission. For example, you may need to accept by a certain deadline or make a payment of tuition fees. Follow all instructions to ensure that you have fully accepted your offer. Make sure you know when you need to register for courses, when to attend your orientation, and begin to make arrangements to go to the US.

7. Apply For Your Student Visa

International students attending a university in the United States must have an F-1 Student Visa. With your acceptance to a US university, you qualify for this visa. You will need to follow all rules and requirements associated with the F-1 visa while in the US. This visa will only allow you to stay in the US temporarily while you complete your studies. For university students, this visa is often valid for five years. If you want to extend your stay in the US, you must make arrangements to apply for the appropriate visa before you are legally required to leave the US.

Additional Advice

Take Your Tests Early

It is a good idea to schedule to take any of your required tests, like IELTS or TOEFL and SAT or ACT, well in advance. This way, you will give yourself the flexibility to take them a second time to improve your scores and increase your chances of admission. It is recommended to take these tests for the first time about ten months before submitting your application to study in the US.

Research Scholarships and Financial Aid

Before you begin applying, it is a good idea to calculate how much money you will need for this entire process. Tuition for international students can be expensive. Before reaching that point, you will be required to pay application fees for each university you apply to and your student visa application. Look into any scholarships or financial aid that you may qualify for.

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