What Admission Deadlines Do I Need To Think About?

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What Admission Deadlines Do I Need To Think About?

Studying in the United States can be an exciting adventure that provides life-changing experiences, but it does take some preparation to make the most of this opportunity. No matter if you need to take the SAT or you’re filling out applications, each step happens according to a specific schedule, and it only takes one mistake to derail your efforts. While domestic students have a hard enough time navigating this process, it can be even more complicated for international applicants. Here’s a look at some of the steps you’ll have to take if you’d like to attend an American college or university, and a timeline to help you stay on track.

  • 2 Years Before Your First Semester

    While it might seem early to start planning your college career, your initial research should start two years before you hope to walk onto campus as a student. The most important thing to remember during this time is to stay focused on your current studies, as you wouldn’t want poor performance to affect your eligibility for admission. Start looking at different schools to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each institution. If you have a specific field of study in mind, look at universities with a strong reputation for specializing in that discipline. Regardless of which school you plan on attending, you’ll need to furnish a score on an entrance exam such as the SAT, ACT or another similar assessment. You may also need to demonstrate proficiency in English, which is why it’s a good idea to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). These exams can be expensive, which is why it’s a good idea to take advantage of any preparation services in the area, although you will have the opportunity to retake them if you get an unsatisfactory score the first time.

  • 14 Months Before Your First Semester

    As you get closer to your first day in college, you should narrow things down to the institutions you’d like to attend. Every school has its own admission deadline schedule, so pay careful attention and start gathering the materials you’ll need to present with your application. If you haven’t already taken your entrance exams for the first time, you should consider scheduling them as soon as possible to give you additional time for retests if necessary.

  • 12 Months Before Your First Semester

    If you still haven’t gotten all of the information you need from your chosen institutions, contact the respective admissions departments again, as you don’t want to have your application declined due to a missing document. Many schools require academic references and letters of recommendation from your current instructors, so start working with them to get the necessary endorsements to go along with your other submissions. You should also start requesting transcripts to go along with all of your applications, so work with your current school to give them enough time to print them out. Along with your application, letters of recommendation and entrance exams, many universities will require you to write an essay, which is also known as a “personal statement.” Your application will likely contain the instructions you’ll need to write this piece, and you should not take them lightly. Pay careful attention to the question you’re asked, and make sure you proofread your essay carefully. Your goal in this step should be to write something that makes you stand out from every other applicant, so don’t hesitate to incorporate your own experiences into your writing.

  • 10 Months Before Your First Semester

    By now, you’ve probably gotten your scores back from your initial entrance exams, so think about retaking any sections that don’t truly reflect your capabilities. Colleges are eager to have international students due to the diversity they bring to the community, but you still need to meet the minimum standards of the university. If you didn’t do it the first time, consider taking a preparatory class to familiarize yourself with the subject matter covered. This service can also teach you important test-taking strategies that could benefit you during the rest of your academic career. College can be costly, so you should also be looking into your financing options to cover your tuition, boarding and other expenses. While some students are fortunate enough to have parents who can pay for everything, the increasing costs of secondary education often come with a bigger price tag than many families are prepared to handle. Take a look at your university’s scholarship offerings to see if you qualify for any need-based or merit-based grants, otherwise look at other financing options such as student loans. Some schools even offer work-study programs that allow you to reduce your costs in exchange for performing an on-campus job. Once you’ve received satisfactory scores on your exams and you’ve gathered every other piece of required information, the only thing left to do is submit your application and wait for a decision. If your university has an early acceptance period, you might hear back in January or February, although it’s common to hear about decisions as late as April, May or even June. The best thing you can do while you’re waiting is fulfill all of your requirements for graduation, as you wouldn’t want to put your further studies at risk because you took it easy during the last few weeks of high school.

  • 3 Months Before Your First Semester

    You may be nearing the home stretch, but there are still things to do before you set foot on campus for your first day as a student. Depending on how far away you live, start researching airfare or other travel options to help get the best deal. You’ll also need to have health insurance coverage to protect yourself in the event of illness or injury. Medical care in the United States can be quite expensive, especially if you’re used to getting treatment at a reduced rate from government healthcare programs in your home country. These last few months are also when you should begin the process of applying for your student visa, but you’ll have to wait until you’ve been accepted to an approved college or university before submitting an application. While you’re waiting, apply for a passport from your home country and start gathering the funds you’ll need for the nonrefundable visa application fee.

  • The Visa Application Process

    From start to finish, the process for getting a student visa isn’t very long, but you do need to be thorough when filling out your paperwork. Before you get started, you’ll need a few pieces of documentation: A valid passportA nonimmigrant visa application (form DS-160)An acceptable photograph of yourselfCertificate of eligibility (Form I-20) While some of these documents can be procured before you get accepted to your school, you won’t be able to get your I-20 until you’ve gained admission to a college or university that’s part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once you’ve been admitted to your institution, you’ll be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and issued your I-20 form. After you complete this document, make an appointment at a United States embassy or consulate office for your interview.

  • The Interview for Your Visa

    As part of your application process, you’ll need to sit down with a representative from the United States for an interview. This can sometimes be intimidating for inexperienced students, but you can prepare yourself by thinking about the questions you might be asked. You can expect the interviewer to ask about a few specific areas: Your choice in university, including how many schools you applied toYour financial status, as you must demonstrate the ability to pay for your educationPost-graduation career plansYour study plansYour academic qualifications When answering these questions, it’s important to be honest and forthcoming, as you will be asked to provide documentation to backup your answers. In some cases you’ll need to show transcripts, tax returns, your high school diploma, test results and other pieces of information to build your case for admission into the country for your studies. During your interview, you’ll also be fingerprinted using an ink-free digital process. Once the interview is over, you might get a decision that same day, but it’s often necessary for officials to do additional investigation into your background. While this doesn’t typically take long, it could be as long as two months, which is why you should make your appointment as soon as you’re issued your I-20. After you’re approved, you can officially enter the United States at any time during the 30 days prior to your first day of school.

  • Careful Preparation Helps Your Chances

    While there’s no way to guarantee acceptance into the college or university of your choice, you can give yourself a greater chance of success by doing research and paying careful attention to every admission deadline set out by your chosen institution. If you’re having trouble staying on track, turn to SchoolApply for an extensive list of resources about schools in the United States and other countries. Why leave anything up to chance when you’re making a decision that will have a significant impact on the rest of your life?

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.