Applying to university in the USA is a very different process to the UK, it can be long and drawn-out so you’ll need to make sure you apply well before the deadlines.

The first thing to do is check that the university (or universities) you want to go to are accredited; this means that it meets the education requirement set by the American Government, if it does then your degree will be recognised worldwide.

When it comes to applying, some universities will allow you to download the application form online, while others will require you do write to them first before they send you a form. During this time it’s best to look into whether the university has an application fee and, if so, how much it is.

Make sure that when you're doing your research into where you want to study you find each universities International Admissions page as there may be different fees or a different application process to that for home students.

Each university will specify their own entry requirements but some, especially the more competitive ones, may require you to complete either an admissions test or essay, the SAT or ACT admissions tests, or send recommendation letters from teachers. On top of this, most universities will require you to send a transcript of your grades and write a personal statement about why the school should accept you, who you are, your beliefs, and your abilities; basically, it has to make you stand out.

Essay writing tips:

  • Always remember, the essay is about you and your writing skills
  • Show don't tell - don't just list the qualifications your application already does
  • Demonstrate you have all the skills a universities is looking for; determination, hard working, able to cope under pressure
  • Think about the audience - how and what you will write will depend on the type of university you are applying to

When to apply

There are 3 modes of application in the USA which define when you apply, they are:
  • Early Decision/Early Action - Deadline is usually around November 1st however, if you are applying for Early Decision, if you are offered a place this constitutes a binding agreement that you must withdraw all other applications and enroll at the university
  • Regular Decision - Most students apply for this; the deadline is around the 1st of January and you can expect to hear back by around the 1st April
  • Rolling Admissions- Only some universities offer this where you can apply any time before the term starts and you will hear back a certain number of days after your application

Once you’ve sent off your application it could be months before you hear back about whether you’ve been offered a place or not but, generally, you can expect to hear back about 5 months before classes are due to start. If you don’t hear back within the time the university has specified then you can always contact them and ask about your application.

Once you’ve received an offer (or offers) you’ll need to inform each university about your decision; whether you want to accept or decline the offer. There’ll be a deadline for this so you need to ensure you reply before this time.

The university will then send you a pre-departure orientation pack which will contain loads of important information about accommodation, meals and other important things.

You’ll want to try and arrive at the university about 10 – 15 days before classes start but you can’t arrive more than 30 days before.
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