International study in America is growing at a rapid pace. In the 2014/15 academic year, there were 975,000 international students in the US, and experts believe that this will soon surpass one million students.  If you are one of those students interested in studying in the US, here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the application process.

First Steps

Before you embark on your search for colleges or universities in the US you need to determine: what level of study (bachelor’s or master’s) you plan to pursue; what program are you interested in; and what you can afford. Once you have this information, your search will be easier and more focused.

Your initial search, nonetheless, will most likely produce a long list of potential schools. Hence the next step would be to narrow this down. Here, your personal preferences will determine the elimination process that works for you. You can start eliminating schools based on a range of factors such as climate preferences, a preference for big or small town locations, the facilities available for international students, university rankings and more. It is important however to narrow down your list of colleges/universities to five or less, or else the application process could become quite daunting and overwhelming.

Once you have your shortlist of schools in hand, you can then start the application process.  For this, you will need to...

Familiarise Yourself With the Application Requirements

Start by making a list of the application requirements for each school you are planning to apply to. Your high school transcripts should definitely be the first thing on this list. Other requirements could include the standard test scores for non-native English speakers known as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or other admission test (SAT/ACT and/or GMAT) scores. Some schools also require you to submit an essay and/or letter(s) of recommendation.

Once you know exactly what you will need to submit, you can proceed to the next step, which is to...

Create a Timeline and Start Gathering Your Docs

Most Universities in the US have specific windows for receiving applications. Hence it is important to know which university you are interested in, so you can determine at what point during the year they accept applications. Read our blog: College Application Deadlines You Should Have on Your Calendar for more on this.

Once you know this, you then need to create a plan and a timeline for gathering your docs. In creating this plan, you will need to factor in how much time you will need to prep for your tests, what are the test dates in your country, and how long will it take for you to get your test results. You may also want to give yourself enough time to perhaps take the test again in case you don’t receive your target scores. Additionally you will need to give yourself enough time to write, re-write and revise your essay; and schedule enough time for getting your recommendations as sometimes these can take a while.  

Once you have all you docs in order, you can then start the process of filling out and submitting your application. And then… begins the wait.

But, While You Wait, Start Preparing for Your Visa Application

An essential step in the process of international education is obtaining the proper visa. Students traveling to America will need an F-1 Visa in order to study. Read our blog on Acing Your F-1 Visa Interview to help you prepare.

The application process can seem daunting, but with this advice, a bit of preparation and SchoolApply's guidance, you can surely get accepted into the the school of your choice. You can also find more info on studying in the US here.