All You Need To Know About College Application Process In USA

The USA is a great destination for students who wish to pursue their higher education. There is an immense scope of opportunities no matter what you decide to major in. You will have access to state of the art technology in colleges and they are known for having a good balance between social and academic life. Considering the number of students who travel to America for higher education, your campus will be a melting pot of different cultures.

Let’s break down the college application process into different aspects

Intakes For College Applicants:

There are generally two intakes during a given year – Fall and Spring. They denote the respective seasons in the USA.

Fall intake happens during late August/ early September and attracts the most number of students. Spring intake is in January/ February.

Application deadlines for Fall: December to March

Application deadlines for Spring: May to September

The individual deadline is specific to the university. It’s important to check your prospective university website to find the actual deadline for the given intake.

Academic Tests

The academic tests or entrance exams you need to give depends on whether you are going for undergrad or graduate studies. All international applicants are supposed to give TOEFL exams to prove that you have the necessary English level skills to succeed at their institution.

Undergraduate Entrance Tests: SAT

Graduate (Non-MBA): GRE

Graduate (MBA): GMAT

These exams are competitive and are one of the most crucial aspects of the application. The higher the rank of the college, the higher the cut off scores are for these exams. Spend ample time studying for these exams and perhaps go for their respective coaching for any extra help that you may require.

Check out this list of top 10 universities to strongly consider if your GRE score is between 320 and 340.

Admissions Essay/ Personal Statement/ Statement Of Purpose

All universities require you to write a personal statement or application essay. It is one of the most important aspects of the application. The personal statement provides you with the opportunity to make your case to the selection committee. You will have a chance to talk about:

  • What drives you? What are your ambitions?
  • What’s your background?
  • Why do you want to pursue your major? Why are you passionate about it?
  • What sets you apart from others?
  • Why do you want to go to the specific college?
  • Any extracurricular activities you

This essay is usually supposed to be 1 page to 1.5 pages long. As the name suggests, this essay is supposed to be “personal”. So, don’t be afraid to make it your own.

Documentation Checklist For College Applications

  1. Statement of purpose
  2. TOEFL Scores
  3. Standardized test scores (GRE/ GMAT/ SAT)
  4. College application form (if not filled online)
  5. Copy of passport
  6. Academic transcripts (Sealed predicted scores from your school if your grade 12 scores are not out yet).
  7. Proof of funds
  8. Recommendation letters from teachers/ work colleagues
  9. Resume (if you have work experience. Specifically for Post-Graduate students)
  10. Any other supporting documents – certificates for extracurricular activities

Early Decision vs Early Action College Applications

As mentioned above, most universities have application deadlines well into March for Fall applications and September for Spring. These are called regular applications. There is also Early Decision and Early Action that you can consider for your applications. Let’s look into both:

Early Decision:

You can ONLY apply to one university for early decision for a given intake (fall or spring). Early Decision is a legally binding process whereby if you get admitted into the university of choice, you must drop all other applications and attend the university. This is a great way to stand out as you are showing the selection committee about how committed you are to the chosen university. Early decision is usually in November for Fall applicants and you will usually get the response by December.

Early Action:

Early Action allows you to apply to universities earlier than regular rounds and get to know their decision sooner. In case, you didn’t get into your top choice schools, you know where you stand and can apply to other schools as “back-up” during the regular application rounds. Unlike Early Decision, if you get accepted in Early Action, you are not legally bound to go to the specific college. This is a great opportunity for students to apply to the top schools but you need to ensure your application is complete prior to applying. Similarly to Early Decision, the Early Action deadlines are in November for fall applications with the decision out in December.

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