School documents

Several documents will be submitted through your school. Collecting all these documents will take time, so remember to inform your dean and teachers of your plans in advance. It is your own responsibility to ensure that your school knows which documents need to be submitted, and when the deadlines are.

Most institutions require the following documents:

  • Transcripts
  • School profile
  • Recommendation letters



Next to your application form, you are required to submit an overview of all grades received during at least three past years of high school (for example: vwo 3, 4, and 5 if you’re in year 6). Ask your school to submit an official copy of all forms containing a school stamp and signature. Your school can translate the names of all classes, as long as the grades are the original Dutch grades. Don’t convert the numbers to the American letter system yourself.

Someone at your school can submit all transcripts together with the school profile. Invite your mentor or dean to upload the transcript and original report cards through the online application system of your university (common application or similar system).

If you changed schools throughout your education, you will have to ask your previous school to submit a transcript as well. Transfer students (students who have completed at least one year of higher education and wish to continue their education in the US) are also required to submit an academic transcript through their current institution. This is an official overview of of all courses taken thus far, including awarded credit (ECT) and grades.


Example of transcript


School profile

American universities also ask for background information about your school. Unlike Dutch universities, American universities look at your activities in the context of your school environment. This means that they don’t just look at everything you’ve done, but also at how you rank compared to your classmates. American high schools rank their students to show how their grades compare to those of the other students. Dutch schools don’t usually do this. American universities still like receive as much information about your school as possible, however, to get an idea of the opportunities available in your environment. Did your school offer very little extracurricular activities because of the students’ travel times? If so, your school would like to find out through your school profile.

Ask your school to download this example document and adjust it according to the school’s own specific profile. It is very important to add all details relevant to your school.

Nuffic offers further English language information about the Dutch school system. The website contains an elaborate description of our educational system and an explanation of our grading system.


Recommendation letters

Include two or three recommendation letters written by different people. At least two of them should be written by teachers that know you well. Certain universities also ask for one or more recommendation letters from a school counselor or mentor. A third letter can be written by a sports coach or employer. Letters written by family members, friends or acquaintances will not be accepted.

Invite your teachers to upload their letter directly into the central application system (Common Application or similar system). You can send out this invitation through your own application. If you use the Common App, your teachers will have to rank you in comparison to your classmates in the teacher evaluation section. You can find more information on how to do this on the Common App website.

Make sure that all letters are written in English. Ask your letter writers to submit an official signed copy of the letter on official school paper.

Recommendation letters need to give their readers a clear overview of your academic skills, personality, and talents. Discuss these topics with your writers and let them know what you would like your letter to contain. It is your own responsibility to ensure that all writers know about the admission requirements, deadlines, and other important criteria for the letters.


Some tips for writing a good recommendation letter:


  • The letters should give an overview of your academic skills, illustrated through examples and anecdotes about you.
  • It might be useful to include a comparison between you and your fellow students. What made you stand out? Did you take an extra class, or are you skilled in the arts? Make sure your writer includes this in their letter.
  • Your university wants to learn about your talents and achievements at school and in your private life.
  • American universities want to find out what kind of person you are. How do you behave in class? What is your attitude towards your teachers? Are you very involved in school life, and how? What could you bring to your American campus?
  • What are your academic interests?
  • What are your career goals? What does your teacher expect you to achieve in the future?
  • Why does your teacher believe that you would fit in well at an American university?