Applying to university in a foreign country can be quite the hassle, what with all the bureaucratic obstacles, language barriers and time constraints. Are you thinking about applying to university in North America? The application process, while mildly tedious, is definitely feasible if you just have the right tips to guide you. Today’s blog post focuses on the 5 major guidelines to follow in order to seamlessly submit your American university application to the school of your choice.
Think about it this way: when your application, one of 60,000 in that year, is being judged by the admissions board of a university, they only have a few things to consider. Your academic record, your extracurricular activities, your high school, a personal writing sample if required, and your SAT exam results. The SAT exam, or the Standardized Assessment Test, is the single-most important evaluation that universities can use to judge your academic skills. Be sure to study hard, take a test prep course, and take the exam as many times as possible to get the best score possible!
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The Common App
If you’re serious about going to the United States or North America for university, you probably already know that there are thousands of universities out there to choose from. With that being said, you should always apply to at least 7 or 8 schools to give you a wide range of possibilities and also to make sure that you get into at least one.
So the question is: do I need to fill out 7 or 8 different applications? Lucky for you, that number is severely reduced due to your best friend in this USA college application process: the Common App. As you may be able to understand by its name, the Common App is one single application that includes over 800 top-notch universities from 49 states of the 50 US states. You can apply to most of the schools you will likely be interested in with a single click. However, some schools ask for additional supplements such as extra personal essays, so be on the lookout for this!
Write a good personal essay
While the Common App mentioned above is a single application for many schools, most of the schools on this application ask for one personal statement. The topic can be chosen from a list of prompts that you can find on the application itself, but every school you apply to will be reading the same exact personal essay that you send. If your one writing piece is going to be seen by 7 or 8 different schools, you’d better make it perfect! Spend a great deal of time writing this, have it checked by your professors and/or parents, and hold nothing back when writing it, as if it were the last piece of writing you’ll ever do in your life!
Ask for references, and ask for them early
Most schools, and especially those using the Common App, ask for at least one teacher reference. A teacher reference is a small piece of writing that a professor, advisor, counselor or role model submits to the application that attests to the students abilities. Many professors will be quite busy with school and also with writing tons of these for all the other students who ask them, so be sure to ask at the beginning of the school year so as not to risk anything! You will have to send these references along with your application, so you’ll need them by December/early January.
Find the right school for you
There are over 5,000 major universities in the United States alone. How in the world can we narrow down the selection to just 1 for you? It’s pretty difficult, but certainly not out of reach! Start by narrowing down your initial criteria:
- Do you want to go to school in an urban city, a rural area, or somewhere in between?
- Do you want to have a big campus with green areas everywhere spread out over acres of campus or something dispersed among the city?
- How many students should your school have? Small schools range from 800 to 2,000 students. Medium-sized schools are from 2,000 to 10,000, and big schools are anywhere after that.
- Should there be a sports culture? Should there be a music/art culture? Decide which types of extra-curriculars you’d like to do in your 4 years on campus and search for that!
Still not sure where you want to go? Try out the College Board’s university search feature: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search
After you’ve figured out the best university for you and polished off your application, all that’s left is to apply and then wait for a decision. Good luck on your search, and we hope you get into the college of your dreams!