Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities ?

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Thinking to study as Undergraduates in the USA?  Then read this guide about Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities for undergraduates.  As an international student, some proper planning and preparation are required to complete the University Admission process.  It is always a crucial decision in life to select the right University for our higher education and with no matter where you belong or where you are applying too. So let’s plan and follow some guidelines for the USA College Admission requirements including some time guidelines about when to start and what things are to be taken into consideration. 

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities
Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities ?

Planner for Timing of Admission process into three categories – Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities
Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities
  • Basic Activities or Hobbies of an applicant – Generally University check the previous 4 years records of an applicant to check his actual interests or hobbies.
  • Entrance Test PreparationsBefore 2 years of the admission year.
  • Completion of Application & Submitting the Application – It starts a year before in August with various submissions time periods and ends till the time you get your college offers in the coming January. Then you will get the chance to study in the Fall session of August next year and hence this process is of 1 year.
TIP – Know the deadlines in advance of various application dates before you miss the application process. Also start building your profile or involved in interest-oriented activities 4 years before your completion of schooling.

Let’s start step by step with the whole process for getting admission to USA Universities and completing the application with all necessary information.  This process is done in many stages of high secondary schooling time. 


When you are thinking to study in USA Universities then the first thing you have to do is

  • Research, research, & research about what majors you are interested to study in your Undergraduate college time. If you are confused with your majors’ selection, then attend University fairs, talk to teachers, counselors, experienced graduates, people nearby you and senior students. By understanding your choices and interests, zero down your subject or major choices as the application process depends on the major choices too. The more clarity you have about your subject selection, the more confident you are while writing essays and building your profile.
  • After you have a clear idea or chosen your major subject then research on University. The US is full of Universities in each city and so it becomes very confusing to select one from so many options. Selection of right fitment or University for you depends on various factors like world rankings, cost factors, rankings based on majors, and other important features. You don’t have to select 1 University at this stage and to be Safe – I would recommend
* Dream Universities – 3 selections
* Reach Universities – 3 selections
* Safe Selection – 3 selections (where your application are not rejected or the ones which do not require very high scores)

You have to keep some choices and not rely on 1 or 2 till the end, so if by chance if anything goes wrong with any of your chosen University, then you have other options or back-up too which will not waste your year.

Official Universities selection means accepting the offer is done afterward only but for preparing profile and writing essays, you have narrow down some of your choices, so that you build your profile in the right direction as Universities have different admission portals with different criteria.

24 Best Things To Do In Champaign Urbana, Illinois
Main Quad – University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
  • Now focus more on Extra-curricular activities and it is better to start from Grade 9th You can select from

ARTS – Painting, Music, Dance, Dramatics, Photography, Video making or Anything related to creativity.



MAJOR OR SUBJECT SPECIFIC – The activity related to your subject – Like for example if you are selecting Computer Science or Computer Engineering in Undergraduate program then enroll in some coding club or develop some app or create some computer-related things. Or if you are pursuing languages in an Undergrad program, then publish some stories in publications or write books. This shows your extensive interest in your subject.

VOLUNTEERING OR SOCIAL WELFARE ACTIVITIES – Enroll in some social welfare clubs and volunteer for some great causes like blood donation, teaching to poor children, constructing a school in remote areas of the world, pet care, etc.

From where to get Volunteering or Social Welfare projects

  1. Sign up the social welfare programs of your city or ask your school if they can arrange something like that.
  2. Start a donation drive to collect and donate resources to affected people.
  3. Make posters, publish books, blogs or videos related to social welfare.
  4. Visit nearby community schools for needy people and dedicate some of the days to teach or motivate poor children.

These all above-listed activities play an important role in selection criteria though you are good at academics. But you cannot neglect these extra-curricular activities. Extra-curricular activities play an important role as compared to entrance test scores and other academics.  It is better to start activities earlier and also stick to your chosen one to show consistency and proficiency in the selected one.

Illini Union

AFTER GRADE 10th |Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

During summer holidays before Grade 11 starts, start preparing for SAT / ACT entrance tests. SAT Entrance tests are conducted by the College Board and are an official examination board, start referring to College Board’s books, guide, and reference books.  You can also take some tips and guidance from Khan Academy.  If you are confident enough by your preparation then appear for the SAT Entrance test in October during the start of Grade 11.  You can also review Princeton’s and Barron’s Guide for SAT preparationCreate your account on College Board portal to login for SAT entrance test

I am focusing on the SAT to be given earlier due to two main reasons

  1. You have ample time to reapply if you are not satisfied by your scores
  2. Also if the score is good then you can now work on other things and prepare for SAT subjects and improve your Grade 11 grades.


  1. SAT scores are valid for up to 3 years.
  2. And you can give the SAT as many times as you want.
  3. You can report your best scores to the University and there is no system of averaging out.

After passing SAT – In Grade 11 |Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

  1. After clearing the first hurdle or crossing the first benchmark during Grade 11, now you can focus on
  2. Join Leadership clubs
  3. Join some clubs like MUN or Toastmaster clubs
  4. Start interacting with your teacher for a letter of recommendation.
IMP TIP – Grades of these 2 years – Grade 11 & 12 are vital and so don’t neglect them, though you have cleared SAT at flying scores.  Your predicted score can always be improved after every test and so don’t lose focus on academics too.

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities


  • Start preparing for subject SATs. It depends on your Major selection – Like for example if you are going for Computer or Mechanical Engineering then apply for SAT Physics and SAT Maths Test.
  • In subject SATs negative marking is there and so be careful in answering the questions. Scoring full marks in subject SATs has great importance.


  • Appear for SAT subject tests though it is slightly early it gives chance to re-appear if you want to improve score or focus more on grade 12 if you get good scores. If you clear your benchmarks earlier then it gives you more time to focus on Grade 12 academics and essays which play an important role in profile building.
  • Also, try to do some internship in a professional company under some professionals to get some professional experience.

Meanwhile, you start looking out for

Also, you can draft or start writing your personal statement & common App Essays.  Some Universities have separate and unique admission portals and for them, you have to apply individually and not through common App – for example application for MIT or UIUC. So opening and creating your account in those portals earlier will help you to know their specifications and also getting used to their system well in advance before you submit your final draft.

TIP – Actual application starts in August every year and you get your results of acceptance in  January of the coming year. And after January, you appear for Grade 12 and then apply for an F1 visa (student visa of USA) and then join the Fall session in August onward. 

The scores of Grade 11 are very important as they form the predicted scores which are sent to University. When you start with Grade 12, start preparing for IELTS/TOEFL – English proficiency tests.

DURING GRADE 12TH | Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

In August, application portals open for the next academic or Fall session and you can initiate the process by filling the online portal with general information, essay & statements.

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities


One of the most important decisions you have to take about the type of admission you want to take – Like –


ED – EARLING DECISION – as the name suggests binding where once you are accepted by the University then you cannot accept the offers of other US Universities.

EA – EARLY ACTION – as the name suggests early action means you will initiate the process little early than the regular ones but you can accept offers from other Universities too. In this action, you get more time to think about the offer.

RA – REGULAR ACTION – It means you will apply regularly which is slightly away from EA deadlines.  

ED & EA Application decisions deadlines are from October 1 – October 31. 

The deadline for University of California is November 30th


  • Write on the subject which relates you or you personally believe in it.
  • Always check grammatical errors and proofread your essay two to three times before submitting the final draft.

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

In November – December try to collect three Recommendation letters from your teachers. The letter will be sent by your teachers or schools but make sure, they have done their task before deadlines. 

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

Also, ask for school grades report because they are to be submitted in the future and you have to collect all before you get too busy in final exams.

In common App, you have to load all Grade 9 to Grade 12 Academic marks but that has to done by your school authorities. But if you are changing schools in between then try to contact your previous schools and ask them to send your grades to the present school.

Usually, ED-EA decisions are released in Nov, Dec & Jan. Regular action due is in January. 

Now before the deadline of application check these important things –

  • Application – Essay
  • Application Fees
  • Documents – Letter of Recommendations
  • Academic Grades
  • Standardized Grades of Entrance tests – SAT/ACT, IELTS/TOEFL. SAT and IELTS give the option to send the scores to your selected Universities by paying some fees. But these results are directly sent by examining authorities to University and you just have to authorize them and pay fees to send the scores.

If you get offers from 2 to 3 Universities then for RA & EA you can accept all of them by depositing some security deposit. Keeping all 3 choices to the end would be a safer action.

But for ED you cannot accept the offer more than one.

Now you have more than 1 choice and from this selecting only one for your future studies is very confusing.  Now the question arises which one to select and how to select the best one according to you and for this follow some tips –

  • Talk to seniors, teachers, counselors, Facebook groups, University Alumni in which you have got offered so that you get a rough idea about the selected Univ.
  • Check career prospectus after graduating from the selected Univ by reading their released reports from the Univ. website and various sites which are famous for ranking the University.
  • Try to connect with students & professors of the Univ through social media or mail.
  • Rankings site will give you a clearer idea and help you in zero down your choices. The sites which are highly reliable and give accurate results are Times Higher Education & CSR. On these sites, apart from general Univ. rankings, there are many filters that you can apply to check the major rankings. For example, UIUC has a high ranking in Engineering field like for Computer Engg/Sciences it is among the top 5 of the world but its overall ranking is slightly lower. So based on majors also you have to select your University. Check reliable and trustworthy rankings on – 
  2.            USA NEWS
  3.            TOP UNIVERSITIES
  4.            CWUR.

After the selection of University, you have to accept the offer and mail to ask for the I20 form for an F1 visa (student visa of USA) filing. They will send you all the guidelines and visa formalities. Also, University asks you about your financial documents which help them to know that you are well enough to pay their fees on time.

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

After receiving the I20 file for student visa F1 through your nearest USA’s Embassy. Appointments of visas can be taken online from the USA’s official website.

Clearing the visa process and successfully getting an F1 visa makes you now to fly to your dream University to pursue your higher education.  Wow, now all is done and you are ready to fly……

You don’t have to pay anything after the security deposit which you did earlier as in USA Tuition fees are paid after one month of the start of studies.

GENERAL GUIDELINES | Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

  • Be true to everything which you stated in your profile as the selection committee is smart enough to catch your fake information or fabricated data.
  • Better to do step by step process instead of rushing everything on last moment or in one month.
  • Proper planning of your time is highly essential and therefore makes a grid plan of your deadline dates, to-do list, a must-do list so that you don’t feel burdened during your final exams. This also helps in figuring out if anything is left out or not.
  • Generally, you have to fill 2 choices for major on admission portal with very few Univ. giving 3rd
  • Keep ready your financial documents as per the directives on the official paper of the financial institution and generally, they ask for a previous 3 months account statement. You have to give your financial status at two places – University and while applying for F1 at the US Embassy.
  • The extra-curricular which you are pursuing from Grade 9 onwards should be certified by either school or your coach. Try to collect all certificates whenever you finish your activity. Even for volunteering, you need to have a certificate of appreciation or a Thanks certificate from the institution.
  • If you are not good at studies, then do not get disheartened and consider working out on your hobbies and any great achievement in your extra-curricular also helps in securing admissions in good colleges.
  • Make your profile appealing by making you a unique choice to select as the selection committee want to know why they should select you as many of them are high scorers. So more unique in any field or hobby you are more chances of selection are there.
  • Try to collect as much information as you can by talking to people, seniors, relatives, neighbors and professionals so that you are well aware of all the processes and the Univ. life.

Best of Luck, for your admission to USA Universities. And I hope your loved reading Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities.

Note – This post has been written with help of MANAV AGRAWAL (an undergrad student) studying in UIUC – University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and has gone through all this process. It was great to interview Manav and sharing his personal experience and knowledge on how to apply for admissions in USA Universities.

Admission In The US Universities For International Students – How to apply for Admission in the USA Universities

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Guide to study in USA University

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  1. I must admit that even though this post is not travel related like most of your it does have some great information and linked to travels in a way. It was interest to read and though not for me at this age was helpful as I do think of sending my son to the US for his higher studies. It does seem to be a bit more complicated process then what we have here in the UK but never mind. I love the campuses which is one of the main reasons i want my son to experience it. Thanks for sharing a very educative post indeed.

  2. This is a very useful guide for international students planning to apply to the US universities. The application process is definitely very lengthy, but believe me, it’s not any easier for the US students either. I know this from my son’s experience.

    1. Yes I too agree, it is not easy for US residents too as passing all entrance and excelling well in extra curricular is really a big task.

  3. One of our children actually seriously considered going to university in the U.S. The program she wanted was only available at one university. She did not think of this very early so she would have probably missed the timelines you provide. We certainly knew about the cost. But not the rest of the process required. She is still considering follow on education. So I will pass this on to her.

  4. Very informative!! I found it really interesting to read especially because it is so hard to get into some decent college for the undergraduate/post graduate. It sounds like a rigorous path with you have to make plans for from a long time ago. I am pretty sure many students will find it really helpful.

  5. This is such an amazing and informative guide! I have a friend who is currently going to school in Mexico and would love to have all of this info!

  6. Living in the US we forget how attractive US universities are to college students. These are great tips on how to prepare and apply for admission. In the US parents are starting their kids off in middle school, prepping to get to college. It’s gotten that competitive.

  7. What a wonderfully detailed post on applying in US universities for studies. I don’t know why I never attempted to do it myself during my younger days even though several friends of mine did. I do think the process is quite rigorous and what I like is that they give importance to a rounded development. For example, as you mentioned, having done some volunteer work adds to your profile and is a positive reflection on your application. It’s not all and only about your marks!

    1. I too agree that all round development with some inclination towards caring for society means a lot in applying for US Universities.

  8. Trying to complete any kind of educational journey in the US is a pain in the tush, if you ask me. It’s a large part of why I never ended up going to college – too much time, effort, and money, especially when my career led me in another direction anyways. But I will say that for anyone attempting to navigate this craziness, you did a phenomenal job providing information!

  9. Such a lengthy process and so many minor but important details. Education in US has become a benchmark kind of thing. Students start planning for this right from school days. Good to know from a student. Wish him all the best! Is the process same for post graduation?

    1. I guess some processes are same like giving entrance tests, English proficiency and some work on profile like professional experience may count for top ranking Universities.

  10. It’s a very lengthy application process with a lot of steps, isn’t it?! You’ve shown the importance of planning ahead and what to expect at each step during the process. It’s such a useful post for anyone thinking about applying for admission.

    1. Wow l never knew all this for U.S citizens to go through that process, I am from Canada. It seems like a lot of work with preparing during high school years and these all are great advice for those who want to get accepted to College or university.

  11. Fantastic advice here and something I have been wanting to look into. I am hoping that both of my daughters will go to university either in the USA or Canada (we are from UK) when they are older. So I have bookmarked this page for reference and hopefully it will come useful in about 18 years time (they still toddlers… :D)

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