Each American university and college has its own admission process and chooses which candidates meet its application requirements. So, you must apply to each university or college separately.

Even if you have chosen one school where you are sure you want to study abroad, and even if you believe you will be accepted by this school because you “qualify” or because it’s your dream school, you would still want to apply to other universities or colleges because it is possible that your “first choice” school may not accept you. This situation happens more often that not. So don’t place all your eggs in one basket; spread your tentacles. At least one or two of your choices should be schools where you and your whoever is guiding you though your applications are fairly certain you will be admitted. Also have in mind that you are competing with prospective international students from around the globe who may be as equally good as you are for a limited number of spaces.

Most American schools recommend that interested international students to contact their admissions office a year before planning enroll at that school.

Follow these helpful steps if you want to apply for admission in a United States University or college:

1. Apply to More than One School

This point is worth reiterating since many students who fail to this are dismayed in the end. After you have selected the schools you want to attend, visit each school’s website and read their information about admissions for international students you may also contact them to request additional info if you further have questions.

If you wish to apply for a graduate (Masters’) degree you should find the admission requirements with the specific graduate school within the university. Many graduate programs have higher admission standards and unlike undergraduate applications where all applications are sent to the university or college’s admission board, some graduate programs require that you send your application directly to their department. You may contact either the admissions office of the graduate school or the head of the department if you have any questions.

2. Fill Your Application

American schools usually base their admissions decision on the candidate’s academic record and applicable test performance, such as TOEFL and the SAT. If your application is for graduate education, you will be required to write either the GRE or GMAT.

Application fee ranges from as low as $35 to over $100. This fee pays for processing your application and is non-refundable, even if you are not admitted. Some schools offer applicants from financially deprived areas application fee waives. This means that the school will process your application without charging an application fee. You can request for a fee waiver by indicating in a space provided on the application form. However, not all schools do this. In such cases Kindly contact your respective school’s admissions office to know how to go about it.

The admissions office will review your academic transcripts. Your results from your country’s national secondary school examinations (such as WASSCE) will also be reviewed. If you are applying for a graduate program, your transcript from university or college will be taken into consideration.

Ask your current school , or the school you have most recently attened, to mail a certified copy of your academic transcript to the schools to which you are applying. Before taking your admissions tests, you should send your official transcripts to the universities or colleges you are applying to.

Be sure to submit your application as well as all required documents to each university or college well before the application deadline. This gives you some extra time to resolve any possible delays.

Your Application Essay

You may not be familiar with the American practice of writing a personal essay to submit with your university application. Here are some tips on how to write an awesome essay!

Step 1: Think of a great topic. Your essay topic should have personal meaning for you. It should reveal something about who you are, your values or interests, and how you are different from any other applicant. Write something about yourself that cannot be reflected by your grades, the list of classes that you’ve taken, or in any other part of your application. There are several questions you can ask yourself that will help you think of ideas: (1) What are you like? (2) What have you done? (3) What are your goals?

Step 2: Write your essay. Good writing takes time. Don’t rush through your essay or expect to finish your essay in one sitting. Pay close attention to the introduction. Draw in the reader so that he or she is interested in finding what the rest of your essay will reveal. Use simple words to express yourself; you don’t have to use complex vocabulary words to show how much English you know. Use the language to express yourself, not to display how smart or intelligent you are. Use examples to demonstrate statements you make.

Step 3: Take your time and seek guidance. Allow yourself enough time so that you can stop working on your essay for a few days—even a week—and then come back to it. This will allow you to see your writings in a new angle. Also, have your friends and family read your essay—they will be able to see things you’ve missed or neglected to mention. Have fun, take your time, be yourself and tell your story well!

Most applications will request the following information:

  • Personal information—Include your name, age, address, family background, birthplace, citizenship, and so on.
  • Activities—Make a list of club memberships, awards earned, team sports experience, or leadership roles you have held.
  • Education plan—Write a short essay elaborating why you want to attend this school, what course of study you want to pursue, your career goals, and research plans.
  • Essay—Some schools require a personal essay on a topic of your choosing.
  • Letters of recommendation—The application form will include several blank pages for your letters of recommendation. Ask several of your teachers or lecturers to compose and mail these letters directly to the admissions office of each school you choose.
  • Testimonials-This is a formal letter from your school stating clearly that you were a student there.
  • Introductory Letter– In the case where you do not need to write the TOEFL, this letter from your school will state categorically that all lessons you took were in English and that you are eligible to take a course delivered in English. You will use this to waive the need to take the TOEFL.

3. Register For Admissions Tests

Students applying to universities and colleges in the USA must take certain examinations (SAT, ACT, GMAT, etc.) that measure aptitude and achievement. International students must also take a test that measures English language proficiency, however this might not be necessary if you have had all your formal education in English. These tests are given at test centers around the world. They are “standardized,” so that students take the same test at every test center. Your scores give the admissions office an international level standard for measuring your aptitude in comparison with other students.

Your test scores are sent directly to the schools to which you are applying. You will be asked to indicate the names of these schools when you register to take certain tests, such as the SAT. In the case of computer-based tests, you will designate the schools at the exam site and the testing agencies will mail your scores directly to them. There will be a fee for scores that you request at a later date.

4. College Admissions

After the application deadline, you will begin receiving letters from your chosen schools. Some universities inform candidates of their acceptance soon after their documents have arrived in the admissions office; this is called “rolling admissions.” Other schools, however, wait several months and inform all applicants at specified date.


The next step is to confirm your enrollment by making a deposit of part or all you the semester’s fees. Applying for a scholarship early comes in handy at this point if you do not plan to pay your college tuition fees by yourself.

You may also be required to provide a statement indicating how much money you will have available during the years you will be in school. If you have a scholarship or your government or company is sponsoring you, you will need to send details of your award.

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Watch out for our next post on “How to Apply for Scholarships to Attend a U.S School”

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