The Application Process Checklist
The Application Process Checklist

Below is the recommended timetable for applying to universities in the United States. It is sometimes possible to complete the process more quickly, but you may have a much more limited choice of schools. Planning well ahead gives you sufficient time to make successful applications to the colleges of your choice.
12 TO 18 MONTHS PRIOR to the academic year in which you hope to enroll, begin to consider, research, and do the following:
  • What are your reasons for wanting to study in the United States?
  • Which universities will meet your needs?
  • Will you need financial assistance?
  • Find out application and financial aid deadlines. This will affect when you take the standardized tests required for admission since test results must reach admissions offices no later than these deadlines. The tests should be taken in advance of submitting university application forms.
  • Register to take standardized tests if required by the universities to which you are applying.
  • Begin narrowing down your choices of schools to approximately 10 to 20 institutions.
12 MONTHS PRIOR to enrollment, complete the following (months indicated are estimates, based on fall enrollment):

  • Contact universities for application and financial aid forms and catalogs.
  • Obtain test registration forms or register on the web to take the TOEFL, the ACT, and SAT I and SAT II, if necessary.
  • Continue narrowing down your choice of schools. While some students apply to more, 5 to 10 well-researched choices are sufficient.
  • Request an official transcript from your school.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teachers.
  • Submit completed application forms (for admission as well as financial aid).
  • Double check that transcripts and references have been sent.
  • Take the necessary admissions tests.
  • University application deadlines must be met; note that these are for regular admission — early admission deadlines will be sooner.
  • Letters of acceptance or rejection arrive. Decide which university to attend, notify the admissions office of your decision, complete and return any forms they require.
  • Send letters of regret to those universities you turn down.
  • Organize finances: arrange to transfer funds to a U.S. bank; make sure you have funds for travel and expenses on arrival.
  • Finalize arrangements for housing and medical insurance with your university.
  • Use information from your Form I-20 or DS-2019 to fill out the SEVIS Form I-901 and pay the $100 required SEVIS fee (see SEVIS information for description of SEVIS form and fee).
  • Upon receipt of your I-20 and SEVIS I-901 payment receipt, apply to your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa. This should be as far in advance of your departure date as possible (see "Visas").
  • Make travel arrangements.
  • Contact the International Student Office at your university with details of your arrival plans, and confirm details of any orientation for new students held by the university.
Getting Ready to Go

Once you know that you are going to study in the United States, you will probably have many questions about visas, accommodation, health insurance, banking, how to study, and other "pre-departure" information. See 'Predeparture Information' for further information.

Most EducationUSA information and advising centers conduct pre-departure orientation presentations in the summer, and some may also offer sessions midyear Contact your nearest center for their schedule and to reserve space for these popular events. Some centers may charge a fee for this service.