Is there anything that could be more exciting than knowing that you’ve been given a chance to live somewhere else, learn something new and take the next step in building your future?

The thought of traveling and studying abroad is beyond exhilarating and somehow manages to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins every time the idea comes to mind.

However, to get that letter of acceptance, you will need to pass through the stage of gathering your life into a set of organized documents, which can be a little confusing and overwhelming – but it does not need to be!In fact, the time spent collecting all these important documents should be eye-opening and motivating, and should also serve as a reminder of why you’re building this strong academic foundation that will eventually grow and develop as you progress through university.

Before you start collecting and gathering all your papers, you should take the time to call the university or scroll through the school's website to define what is required. Some colleges or universities, like Canadian University Dubai and Centennial College, have a detailed list of the documents needed on their websites. Others, like the University of Saskatchewan, provide brief descriptions of the necessary paperwork. There are also other schools, like  Carleton University, that will let you know what documents to expect from them should you get accepted.

Don’t worry, drawing up your plan of attack at this stage won’t get too messy as there is a general set of required documents that every university will ask for.

The School Application Form

University Application form

Anything you do in life requires an application form of some kind, from applying to school, renewing your passport and applying for a driving license, to finding a job or starting a company. ,

The key to any application form is to read it thoroughly before you start carefully filling it out. Ideally, you should use a computer to type in all the information – this will help ensure that the form is completely legible.

Certificates

Any university you apply to will always need to see proof that you have completed your education to the level you state in your application form. Remember: the more documents you provide, the clearer the picture you’re painting the admissions officer.

High School Transcripts

Whether you’ve just completed high school or said goodbye to your school’s hallways years ago, you’ll still need to provide copies of your senior secondary certificates (SSC) and your higher secondary certificates [HRC], along with the grades you achieved.

Degrees/Certification

Maybe your high school days are long behind you, and you’ve already earned your Bachelor’s Degree and want to take the next step on the education ladder. Then, you’ll need to provide all of your degree certificates, again, along with your grades.

Competitive Exam Scores

Applying to schools outside of your home country means that you will need to show that you meet the school’s language or academic standards.

If English is not your first language, then you will need to either take the TOEFL or IELTS proficiency exams. The TOEFL exam is mainly accepted in universities in the US, and the IELTS is generally accepted everywhere else.

Although you have completed high school and maybe more, universities still need to see that you will not struggle to keep up with their curriculum, in which case you will need to take academic exams like the GRE, the GMAT or the LSAT. Previously, the GMAT was mainly for business schools and the GRE was for engineering schools, but more and more business schools are now accepting the GRE as well. The LSAT is required for students who are looking to go to law school.

Remember to check which examinations your schools of choice require. You will also need to submit the scores attained and the test certifications.  

Statement of Purpose

Getting into colleges and universities in other countries is competitive, so you will need to convince the admissions officer that you should be the one to receive an education from that particular institution.

In your Statement of Purpose (SOP), you need to show your personality through written language to explain how you have become the person you are today, why you plan on choosing a specific career path, what you intend to achieve after you finish building your foundation, and of course why you chose this university above all others. Remember to take your time and tweak your SOP until you’re 100% happy with it.  

Résumé

Resume

Just like the application form, this will not be the first time you write up your résumé. You will continue to update your résumé as you learn and gain professional experience  to achieve that long-term goal you’ve set for yourself.

If you’ve just finished high school, then drafting a strong résumé maybe a little tricky, but remember that this document shares your blueprints with the admissions officer – it is not only about your educational achievements and certification; it can be used to share your personal accomplishments and experiences as well.

Experience Documents

Just like you had to show that you have completed high school or a Bachelor’s Degree, you’ll also have to prove that you did gain the experience you stated in your résumé.

You’ll need to contact previous teachers and employers and ask them to provide you with experience letters stating that you did, in fact, achieve what you said you did.

Letter of Recommendation

You may have painted a clear picture of yourself for the university to see, but they still need someone to vouch for you, to let them know that this is who you truly are.

Think about it: before you head to a new café or restaurant, you probably read reviews about the venue, staff and service, or maybe you go there by recommendation from someone you trust. So, you will need someone who can speak about your character and convince the school that you are more than capable of handling the workload and achieving the results.

Passport

Travel Document - Passport

To go anywhere in the world, you need a passport and possibly a visa.

Your passport proves to the school that you can in fact travel, and lets them know that, should they accept you, you will be able to attain a visa to attend the classes. Most universities require a passport-sized photo to keep on file or to create a student ID  – so make sure that the photo’s dimensions are correct.

Proof of Funds

There are fees to be paid, housing to be covered, food to be bought and clothing to be purchased. Are you able to support yourself financially for the next few years?

The university and, eventually, the immigration office will need you to prove that you can support yourself for the time you will be studying in that country. Depending on the university and the country, you will need to submit bank statements, loan approvals and bank letters.

Check, Double Check and Triple Check

As the saying goes “better safe than sorry,” so make sure you’ve gathered all the papers you need before sending them off to add another brick to your foundation!