18 to 12 months before departure
(January through June prior to your last year at school)
Consider what kind of school you would like to study at
With more than 4,000 institutions offering undergraduate degrees, you will have a lot of options to consider. Researching all your options can be time consuming, but it will be worth it in the end. Consider using this three-step program to help you on your way.
Some U.S. universities offer summer programs that help you get oriented and prepare for the application process. EducationUSA offers a preparatory summer program for high school students aged 15-17, the EducationUSA Academy.
Discuss your yearly available budget with your parents and find out if there are additional financial possibilities available to you. Finances are an important factor in choosing a school. It can be tempting to focus on your admission first, but by doing that you risk missing the deadlines for financial aid.
Plan and complete the admission exams
Complete the admission exams (SAT or ACT) for the first time. This gives you the opportunity to try again in the summer or fall, if necessary. If you intend to also take the SAT Subject Tests, make sure you schedule these on time.
July – August
Take an English profiency test
Take your English proficiency test during the summer months. There are several tests to consider, including TOEFL and IELTS. Duolingo is a relatively new test, but is accepted by an increasing number of institutions. Read more about English profiency tests.
Create your shortlist of universities
Search for information about the application process on the website of these universities. Look into any potential financial aid options. Create a schedule of application deadlines and requirements based on your findings.
Create an account at Common Application, which opens up for registration at August 1st.
Begin drafting your personal statement
The application essay is one of the most important aspects of your application. The essay is usually a short written assignment in which you talk about yourself, so the selection commission has a better idea of who you are as a person and won’t have to decide based on grades and admission exams alone. If you apply using the Common App, you choose from several essay prompts. In addition, each university may have additional essay assignments.
September – November
Transcripts, school profile and recommendation letters
Request all necessary school documents and recommendation letters from your school.
Finalize your personal statement
Have someone look over your personal statement, and write several new versions. It will take time to write a good essay.
Are you applying for a financial need scholarship? Most universities require the CSS profile. Register and start creating yours in time.
1 November: Early Application/Early Decision Deadlines
Most Early Action and Early Decision deadlines close on November 1st. Make sure your application is completed on time if you wish to act on these opportunities.
Early deadline decision
American universities release their decisions on Early Action/Early Decision applicants.
1 January: Regular admission deadlines
Most application deadlines close around January 1st.
February – April
American universities release their decisions for regular deadline applicants.
May – July
1 May: National Reply Date
The 1st of May is the national reply date. Notify universities of your decision by this date.
Your university will send you more information about housing options and the required vaccinations and insurance.
Apply for your visa
Once you have managed to prove that you can shoulder the costs of the program and the accompanying housing, your university will send you all necessary documents to start the visa application process.
August – September
Start your program
Most universities will start between mid-August and early September.