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Apply to a US College or University as an International Student

Study in the US: Guide for International Students in USA

Apply USA Colleges Universities College Application Essay International Student Study in US

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After researching your schools of interest thoroughly, you should have a list of several US colleges / universities where you want to apply. It is better to be accepted to more than one school, and have a choice, than to apply to one or two and not be accepted to them.

The USA colleges / universities you apply to will require the following things from you:

USA College Application Form

When you write to a US college / university or visit its website, you should request an application, as well as information about scholarships and financial aid for international students. Filling out the college application may be a difficult and time-consuming process, but you should fill out the college application form carefully and comprehensively. Forgetting to fill out the form completely can cost you valuable time in the college enrollment process. Also, submit your college application as early as possible to ensure you do not miss any deadlines.

College Application Essay

You will probably also be asked to write an essay explaining your reasons for wishing to study at the US college you are applying to. This college application essay is extremely important -- do not underestimate it. It can reveal much about you that the straightforward college application form does not, and it provides an excellent opportunity for you to show yourself as an individual with a colorful background and unusual circumstances. Many US colleges / universities place considerable importance on the application essay, and they may accept some students based upon a show of strength or intelligence in their essays who would not be academically qualified otherwise. The Insiders Guide to the Colleges describes the college application essay’s role as "crucial, especially at the more selective colleges."

Letters of Recommendation to Colleges

When submitting letters of recommendation to colleges, be careful about whom you choose to write on your behalf, especially if you are applying to more competitive college programs. Choosing relatives and friends to write about you probably is not a good idea; although they may say wonderful things about you, their opinions do not hold much weight. Instead, choose teachers or employers, and if you know the school principal or the town mayor, it certainly would not hurt to have them supporting you as well. Also, be certain to choose people who will speak explicitly, as well as generously on your behalf. A vague description may not be helpful, even if it is generally positive.

School Transcripts

Since you are an international student, and the US college / university knows little about you, the school must place a lot of importance upon your previous school transcripts. If you have taken courses at other schools or colleges, be certain to have those transcripts forwarded to the schools you are applying to also. Be sure to have all your school transcripts forwarded well in advance of any deadlines.

Some colleges and universities simply will not accept you if your school record is not a good one, but do not forget that other factors, such as your college application essay and your SAT scores, influence your college enrollment as well.

Standardized Tests: SAT, ACT, GRE

The colleges / universities will also probably request your test scores for the SAT or ACT (or GRE for graduate programs), which are standardized college entrance exams. For more information on these tests, see SAT ACT & GRE Test: What Each Stands for, Meaning, Acronym.

Language Skills: TOEFL

Unless English is your native language, you will probably be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to prove your fluency with English. For more information on TOEFL, see English Language Requirements for International Students in the US.

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