Here is the quick and dirty guide on the essentials of applying to American colleges and universities.
Research: Which University Is Right For You?
The first (and most important) step in any application is to know your goals. American higher education has many options, from community colleges to institutes of technology to private universities to law schools and more. They offer a range of courses, diplomas, degrees and certifications in a huge variety of subject areas. We recommend that you start with researching what courses are available, which universities you would like to attend, what the cities nearby are like, and the hundred other questions you need to ask when you choose your course and university. Once you have chosen your universities, sort the list out by reach, possible, and safety universities. Reach universities are those that have average scores and profiles that are higher than yours, but you are reaching for the small possibility that you could get in. Possibles are the universities whose average student profiles match yours and you are probably going to be accepted at. Lastly, safety schools are those that you are sure you will get into because your scores exceed their expectations. We recommend that you have all three types of universities on your list.
Plan Ahead: What Do You Need, And When?
Once you are done with your research and have decided which programs you want to apply to, make a timetable of all the deadlines and documents you are required to submit. Next, make a timeline for yourself so that you aren’t late with your application and end up missing deadlines. If you are required to take any tests, also factor in when you can sit for those so that you are able to submit your results on time. It is also very important to ask your school office for your transcripts and your teachers for recommendation letters well in advance, so that you aren’t rushing to submit these at the last minute.
Options: What Are Early Action and Early Decision Applications?
Early action is your way of telling the university that you are interested in them, earlier. They will also respond to your application earlier than a regular admission application. That way, you could have your future plans secured before most other people even submit their applications! Early decision is different because it is binding if you are accepted, and you may only apply to one university with early decision. You will have to withdraw all regular or early action applications to other universities if you are offered a place at your early decision choice.
If you have had a dream university since you were a child and know for sure where you would like to go, it is a good idea to consider these because of the smaller applicant pool. Other benefits of early action and early decision applications is that since it is earlier on in the application cycle, the admissions officers are fresher and less overwhelmed by applications, so you also find out sooner if you have gotten in or not. Whatever you decide, do remember that there may be different deadlines based on which program, university, and type of application you have chosen.
Deadlines: When To Submit?
American university applications usually open up from August. Early decision and early action deadlines range from early October to mid-November, depending on the university. Regular application deadlines range from early December to late January, also depending on the university you have chosen. Make sure to look at the university’s admissions calendar because one university may have early action deadlines in mid-November, while another has its regular deadlines in mid- or late November. Also remember, the earlier you submit your application, the better.
How To Apply: What Is Common App? Where Can You Apply?
The Common Application is an online application form accepted by more than 450 undergraduate institutions in the U.S. in lieu of a separate university application. Common App is a form that combines the basic questions that most applications ask to save you time and effort. You will only need to submit your personal details, extracurriculars record, teacher recommendations, transcript, standardized scores, and major essay only once. Each university usually has a separate “supplement” with their own questions for you.= Of course, some universities may still only offer their own applications. This application will be similar to the common app in its structure; you will need to answer some short questions, and submit a major essay, teacher recommendations, your transcript, the specified standardized test scores, and your resume or list of extracurricular activities. The university’s application page will detail these out for you so that you can prepare these ahead of time. Usually, you will need to write a separate essay because their topics or options will be different from those offered by Common App.
University Supplements: What Is Their Significance?
University supplements usually contain information or questions that the university deemed important enough, in addition to the information you’ve already provided on the common app. This means that these are things they feel are decisive in the selection process. Remember, American universities like to look for the ‘best fit’ and your application is your only chance to prove to the admissions officers that you are more than your scores. The supplements are usually your way of communicating your personality and showing them who you are as a person. You can highlight your interests, passions, career and life goals, and your overall personality through these. So, make sure you spend enough time on these to put forth the best representation of yourself.
Courses: What Are Majors And Minors?
While applying, many students are confused about majors and minors. You may be asking, If I want a bachelor’s degree in a subject, does that subject have to be my major? Do I get a degree in my minor? How are they different?
Your major is the main focus of your degree. Typically, you won’t have to choose your major until you are in your second year. There are a certain number of credits or classes you will have to take to fulfil your major requirement and graduate. A minor will require fewer credits or classes. You could also do a double degree or double major, or even a combination of majors and minors depending on the options your university’s and faculty’s offers. However, this shouldn’t be a concern during your application process as you only decide this once you matriculate and start studying at the university.
Tips and Suggestions
- It is crucial to remember the dates and deadlines and documents for your applications. Also remember that deadlines are usually based on local time.
- Ask your teachers or mentors for recommendation letters well in advance so that they can do you justice. On that note, make sure you give them all relevant information about yourself, like which courses or universities you are applying to, your list of extracurricular activities, your plans for the future, etc.
- Check your online presence and make sure that your social media profiles don’t hurt your application.
- Along with your university applications, you should be applying to for funding, scholarships, and/or financial aid from the universities and external sources.
- You should have a plan for when you get your offers. You will only have a limited time to accept the offer and pay a non-refundable deposit. It is best to rank your university choices by preference and affordability (based on financial aid) to help you make your final decision.