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Every student who plans on continuing their education after high school has felt the dread that thinking about the future brings. Many tests to take, many requirements to fulfill, and many applications to fill. However, this dread is somehow reduced in amount when you know exactly what lies ahead of you. That’s why we decided to come to your aid by compiling a list of the steps one ought to take to apply for an American university. Let’s get into it.

Why Study in the U.S.?

There is no surprise that the United States of America is one of the countries that host the largest number of international students globally. The education U.S universities provide, the curriculum they follow, the multicultural environment that characterizes the country are all factors that contribute to international students choosing this country to get their education. Does it sound like something you want, too? Then, follow this process to apply to one of the many American universities.  

How to Apply for College in the USA for International Students?

Applying for college can be a hassle in itself, especially for international students. Being thousands of miles away and part of an entirely different education system, they might find the whole application process quite demanding. No worries, we’ve got the backs of both domestic and international students. We’re going to show you all the steps to apply for college. Let’s get started:

Build your college list

With the thousands of universities to choose from, one might find it challenging to come to a decision. What if I am rushing this decision? What if there is a university with better opportunities? These are just some thoughts running through the mind of an average student. And they’re not at fault because there is always going to be a better college in many aspects. However, not all of them will prove to be the right ones for you, and the reasons might alternate between the distance, fees, and other related reasons. 


When making the list of the colleges you would like to apply to, you should consider your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. While these aren’t the most important pieces of the puzzle, as there are many other factors that admission officials consider, they still have a high impact on your admission chances. As much as you would want to get into a particular university, if you’re not eligible to apply because you don’t fulfill their requirements, you wouldn’t need to add that university to your list.  


With that being said, take a look at their acceptance rate, grade and standardized test scores requirements, and tuition fees. 

How many colleges should be on my college list?

Your college list should be a mix of reach, target, and safety schools, respectively, the colleges you have a low chance of getting in, the colleges you have a pretty good shot, and colleges that you are almost sure you can get in. So, your college list should contain 8 to 10 schools. However, if you believe that you’re applying to highly competitive colleges, it would be better to increase the number of colleges to 12

Get your transcript evaluated

This step mostly depends on where the students are coming from. Usually, evaluating transcripts is required of international students. Admission counselors require this official report so that they can determine whether a degree or other credentials earned in a foreign country meet their enrollment standards. 


However, if you want to make sure of this, you can always contact the admission office of a particular university and get an official answer from them.  

Prepare recommendation letters

Letters of recommendation are the additional documents that help round out a student’s profile. These letters provide insights for the admission counselors as to who you are through the lens of someone other than you. Usually, those who are expected to write recommendation letters for you have worked closely with you during your educational journey and can recommend an individual’s academic performance, i.e., your teachers, your principal, or your counselors. 

Get aware of the language requirements

Every university lists the requirements the students must meet in order to get enrolled in their programs. The list might start with the high school diploma, a particular GPS, extracurriculars, and others. One of the requirements is also the language requirement. This requirement applies to international students whose first language is other than the English language. Usually, this is handled through a standardized test like IELTS or TOEFL. Either way, you have to make sure that you are/aren’t required to prove your English language proficiency.

Get informed on the standardized tests you’re going to take

Besides the TOEFL and IELTS tests that international students usually take to prove their language abilities,  students might be required to take a whole list of standardized tests. Which test scores you might be asked to provide varies from university to university. That’s why in your research where you come up with the list of universities you want to apply to, you should also consider this requirement.   

Send Application Forms

Now that you got your list of colleges ready, you can start applying to them. However, we mentioned how universities make their admission decisions by considering your academic record as well as the scores you got on different standardized tests like TOEFL, ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT


This application form is sent to you by the admissions office, or you can find it online on their website. Its fee is non-refundable and ranges from $35 to $100. Once you’ve attached your supporting documents like, transcript, standardized tests scores, and any other documents that the university might require of you, you’re ready to hit submit.  

Take the Entrance Exam

Another significantly necessary requirement of U.S universities is the entrance exam. All the prospective students of a particular college are required to take it. So, you too, as an international student, should expect to take it.  


There are several different exams out there, that’s why you should do research on which entrance exams are required by your universities of choice and then register for them. 

Wait for the Acceptance Letter to Come

Assuming that you have respected the deadlines and you’ve submitted your application form and other documents on time, now you got nothing else to worry about other than wait for a positive response from the universities you’ve applied for. One by one, the universities will start to send you letters to inform you of your application. Some might do it earlier, and some might wait for a period of time and then inform all the candidates at the same time. 

How to Pay for College?

When thinking of applying for college, many students consider their financial situation as most likely they’ll have to pay for college from their own family pockets. However, for those who can’t afford to pay for college, there is still hope as there are other ways they can pay for it, through financial aid and scholarships offered by the universities.

Financial aid

Financial aid is provided from various sources; federal and state agencies, colleges, high schools, different foundations are just some of them. Here are some of the types of financial aid that students in the USA are eligible to receive:


Grants are a type of financial aid that students receive without having to repay. The grants can come from non-profit organizations, the federal government, or your college.


Scholarships are a type of financial aid awarded to students by the universities to pay for their degree. There are many types of scholarships available; however, not everybody can be eligible to get them as they have requirements students will have to meet.

Student loans

When applying for financial aid, you might be offered student loans. You will repay your student loan debt with interest, and you start paying them after you graduate. The amount of money you can borrow depends on the level of your academic studies, whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate, or a professional student.


So, there you have it, the process of applying for college is right in front of you. We hope we have made it easy and clear what is expected of you in this process. All that’s left to do is for you to start preparing your documentation and start applying. The best of luck!



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