The Ultimate US University Application Guide for International Students...
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The Ultimate US University Application Guide for International Students in 2022



The Ultimate US University Application: The United States of America (the U.S.A. or the USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, 326 Indian reservations, and some minor possessions. At nearly 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million square kilometers), it is the world’s third- or fourth-largest country by geographic area.

The Ultimate US University Application

The United States shares land borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south as well as maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other countries. With a population of more than 331 million people, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city and financial center in New York City.


The U.S. is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture center, and the capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles’ Hollywood is famed for filmmaking.

The Ultimate US University Application Guide

Now that you have determined to examine in the u.s., it’s time to determine out how you will get there. The US university software technique can also take longer for international students, as there are greater concerns: visa paperwork, tour arrangements, immunizations, and more.

However here’s the secret: global college students who put together earlier for his or her u.s.-primarily based research have the nice probabilities of locating the correct diploma software — and higher probability of having visa documentation, take a look at consequences, journey preparations, and price range in order, so you can start at your dream college on time and ready to move.rt at your dream college on time and ready to move.


“Make sure that you’ve met with your advisor, your visa is prepped, and your documents are prepared — the earlier the better,” said Tricia Ortega, director of enrollment management at Shorelight. “But also remember to be flexible — things change.”

So, remember: Advance preparation plus a flexible attitude equals college application success! Here’s what you need to do — right now and in the months ahead — to apply to study in the USA and be ready for your first day of classes at a US university.

18+ Months Before School Starts: Standardized Tests

No matter where you are from, if you want to go to college or university in the United States, you will likely have to take a standardized test, such as the SAT or the ACT, to help university admissions teams determine your academic preparedness. It makes sense to learn the differences between the ACT and SAT, as their structures, components, and scoring differs. If you know well in advance which tests you plan to take, you’ll have plenty of time to study and prepare with practice exams.

But, it’s really worth noting that the pandemic has brought about numerous universities not requiring standardized checks for admission. has compiled greater than 1,800 schools and universities within the united states that now do not require the ACT or SAT for US-primarily based candidates. FairTest’s handiest tracks domestic candidates, but this listing compiled by way of Sarah Loring de Garcia has shown that about six hundred colleges share the same test-elective coverage for worldwide candidates. A Shorelight guide can paintings with you to find the standardized trying out requirements at the schools you’re thinking about.

International students may additionally want to take an English language skill ability take a look at, which includes the Test of English as an overseas Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language testing gadget (IELTS) exam. You have to bear in mind taking your language skillability assessments is near sufficient to the software closing date which you have time to have a look at, but now not so near which you run out of time to retake the check in case you aren’t glad about your score.

Take Your Standardized Tests Early

We realize that 18 months is a long time to plan in advance. You may have no idea where you want to apply to university. Or your dream school may be firmly rooted on the test-optional list. But a year and a half of lead time give you more options in the long run.

It’s recommended that students take either the SAT or ACT at least once, about 18 months before the projected start date of their first year of university. This lead time means that you have plenty of chances to study and retake your test if you are unhappy with your score or if it falls below the acceptable limits for your dream university.

International testing dates and testing locations are limited, so advance planning means you can find a date/time that works with your schedule, travel plans, and upcoming university application deadlines.

Remember, you cannot take the SAT or ACT online from home. You must take the tests from a sanctioned location or testing center.

  • International SAT Test Dates + Registration Deadlines
  • International ACT Test Dates + Registration Deadlines

15 Months Before School Starts: Research Universities

If you are like many international students who attend college in the US, you probably began researching schools in the United States the minute you decided you wanted to study there. That said, it’s important to ask yourself the right questions to make sure you find the right-fit university — academically, socially, and for the careers, you may want to pursue.

According to Ortega, combine the type of college experience you want with the educational requirements you need to be successful. Don’t focus only on professional opportunities or academic programs. While those are essential to your final decision, Ortega recommends using location as your starting point. After all, you will be spending so much time on campus, location will play a big part in your university experience.

“Do you want a big or small school? Do you want to live in a big city, or do you feel more comfortable in a smaller town? Are you looking for lots of athletics or are you more into liberal arts?” said Ortega. “It’s really helpful for you to ask yourself these questions upfront and as you go through the process.”

Ortega recommends students remember the following questions when researching universities:

  • What do you plan on studying? If you want to study engineering, for example, make sure the schools you are looking at have strong STEM programs.
  • What types of experiences do you want? Do you want to go to university in a bustling city or a beautiful college town? Do you want to live with 60,000 other students or somewhere where most faces are familiar?
  • What are your goals, and will this university help you reach them? What internship and career opportunities are available? Is the school well-suited technologically? What about networking, research funding, or work-study programs?

12 Months Before School Starts: Pick Your Universities

Whether you are beginning your senior year of high school or applying to university after spending some time in the workforce, you should have a pretty good idea of which schools interest you one year before you apply.

Picking the right college can be a tough decision. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it can easily get overwhelming with all the different issues to consider: cost, academics, career options, location, and more. Also, be honest about your academic transcripts and how strong they are. Even the brightest, most accomplished students consider safe schools.

Some questions to ask yourself as you narrow down your US university choices:

  • What are my goals?
  • How are my grades/academic performance?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Are there scholarships available?
  • Where will I live?
  • How well do I speak English?
  • Will I have access to health care?
  • If applicable, where will I practice my religion?
  • What location, climate, social life, and safety requirements do I have?

Based on the way you solution these questions, slender down your list of schools to those who in shape your alternatives. encompass a few aspirational alternatives (i.e., universities that, based for your educational overall performance and extracurriculars, won’t receive you), as well as some safety schools (i.e., faculties so that it will nearly in reality take you). studies the utility sections of your universities’ web sites. find out the critical dates, as well as the trying out, financial, and other necessities you’ll want to meet to put up your application efficaciously.

9 Months Before School Starts: It’s Time to Apply

By now, you should have all the documentation you need to prove you can pay for your studies, your passport is valid, and you’ve got those letters of recommendation in hand. Most regular-decision deadlines for domestic students at colleges and universities in the United States are in January; January 1 or January 15 tend to be the most common. Many schools, however, have later deadlines. Southwestern University, a top-100 National Liberal Arts College, according to U.S. News & World Report, accepts applications until February 1. In collaboration with Shorelight, the top-rated Adelphi University in New York has a much later international student application deadline of July 22.

“To avoid last-minute stressors, review your admissions checklist and check items off. And if you’re not sure, you can reach out, but not the day of!” said Ortega. “It’s really about planning, not waiting until the last second.” In addition to helping you manage your application checklist, Shorelight’s Global and International first-year programs at many top-rated universities help international students transition to campus, build a social network, and find career-optimizing advice and support.

These often have later application deadlines as well. Additionally, Shorelight advisors can even provide international students access to remote learning transfer programs such as American Collegiate Live, a digital classroom experience where students can start their university studies online from their home country until they can transition to a US campus.

Here are a few top-rated universities in the United States that accept applications into the summer:

  • Cleveland State Global’s Fall 2022 application deadline is July 12, 2022.
  • Florida International University’s First-Year Global program’s Fall 2022 application deadline is July 19, 2022.
  • Gonzaga University’s Global program’s Fall 2022 application deadline is July 30, 2022.

5 Months Before School Starts: Decision Time

Even though select programs offer late application deadlines, there are plenty of reasons to get your applications in early. The most important is to give yourself enough time to get your travel documentation in order.

By five months before you plan to start your first semester, you should begin hearing back from schools you applied to, and you should be prepared to decide which college you will attend. Hopefully, you will have enough time to consider your accepted schools, your priorities for a university, and available financing, and make an informed decision with plenty of time to get an F-1 visa.

During this period, you should also consider your university’s housing options for first-year students, their costs, and which health insurance options are available to international students.

4 Months Before School Starts: Visa Documentation

Soon after you get accepted to your US university, you will receive your I-20 form and begin the F-1 student visa application process. There are several steps to obtaining your F-1 student visa, but the process is straightforward if you give yourself enough time to complete it.

  • Get accepted by a SEVP-certified institution before submitting your visa application. When you are accepted, you will receive your I-20 form, which you will need to apply for your F-1 visa.
  • Pay your SEVIS fee.
  • Complete your DS-160 visa application.
  • Schedule your visa interview.
  • Attend your visa interview.

It’s worth noting that you can only begin your F-1 visa application 120 days before your program’s start date, so you have a small window for conducting your F-1 visa interview and completing your application. The visa interview is conducted at a US embassy or consulate, preferably the closest one to where you live. Scheduling around this time of year can be difficult, as many students attempt to complete the interview process in the same window, so it makes sense to plan as far ahead as possible.

“For fall semester starts, April might be too early, June is a great time, and July is really the latest,” said Ortega. “Ideally, we want to send students for their visas in May, or as soon as they are eligible.”

Many students are intimidated by the visa interview process, but the process is smooth and quick if you are well prepared. There are five categories most US F-1 visa interview questions will be based on:

  1. Study plans
  2. University choice
  3. Academic capability
  4. Financial status
  5. Post-graduation plans

3 Months Before School Starts: Plan Your Travel

You’ve picked your school, got your finances in order, and applied for your F-1 visa. It’s time to start thinking about how and when you will get to your university and what you are going to pack. Start by creating a travel checklist that begins with your visa documentation, university paperwork, and travel documents and then extends to the must-haves you want to bring with you to the United States.

“After students secure their visa, they need to book their flights, and to do that, they need to know when they are expect to arrive. Make sure you are in contact with the campus. Let them know your plans so that they can guide you and help you before you pay for your plane ticket,” said Ortega. “Also, maybe give yourself an easy day to get situated and deal with jet lag. I think this is really important. Lots of students wait [until] the last second to buy the ticket because [tickets] are expensive, but then they risk transportation delays.”

1 Month Before School Starts: Plan Your Travel and Choose Your Classes

If your payments are submitted and cleared, you should be able to start registering for classes. Many students enjoy exploring the university area online before they move to their new home in the United States. Reach out to student groups through social media. It’s also a great time to order your books. Get a head start on finding a bank and signing up for orientation.

“Make sure you know the day you’re expect to be on campus. Book your [airline] ticket in advance, communicate when you’re arriving, prepare for your arrival so that you know exactly where you need to be and how you need to get there. Coordinate with your enrollment services advisor on campus,” said Ortega. “Communication is really key.”

In Conclusion

Lastly, Ortega recommends that incoming international students studying in the United States for the first time shouldn’t be afraid to participate. The American experience, according to Ortega, is all about communication. When in doubt, raise your hand and ask a question.

Also, be flexible. A lot has changed since COVID — some orientation events will be online, other requirements will be in person. Lastly, remember to enjoy yourself and have some fun.

However, if there is anything you think we are missing. Don’t hesitate to inform us by dropping your advice in the comment section.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below!

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