The hardest part of any project in your life is knowing where to start, and the process for applying to college is no different. If you want to study in the United States, you must have many things in mind as the process can be a bit overwhelming.
How can you order all your options? How do you know what you need? Here, we will help you with everything you need to know.
First of all, you should know some of the most important definitions.
“College” vs. “University”
In general terms, we refer to college as a higher education entity that is responsible for offering mainly bachelor’s degrees or degrees. On the other hand, the university, very apart from offering this degree, grants graduate degrees, masters and doctorates.
Many of the universities (colleges) often include many colleges (in this case, professional schools) within it, thus offering different undergraduate and graduate degrees. Because of this, universities tend to be larger than “colleges.” Of course, there are always exceptions, with some smaller universities out there and some colleges that award advanced degrees.
“Scholarships”, “Grants” and “Loans”
You may think that scholarships and grants are the same and in some part they are: they represent “free money” for your college education. Well, generally, scholarships are often given based on your grade point merit, while grants are based on your financial need. However, college loans must be repaid, in most cases, after you graduate from the institution. Loans can be given at the university, by the government, or from a private company. Just remember that in most cases, international students are not eligible for loans issued by the United States government, nor are they usually considered for aid based on financial need. However,
These tests, timed and often multiple-choice, are given in the same format to all students who take them. Each university has different requirements when it comes to standardized tests. The most common tests are the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, and IELTS. Review the requirements of each university and make sure you don’t miss the deadline to register for any of the exams.
“Reach”, “Good fit” and “likely”
These are terms that students and counselors use to describe a particular student’s college list. Universities “reach” are the most difficult for you to access. On the other hand, “good fit” universities are those that fit your requirements or abilities. “Likely” are those universities that you are most likely to enter. A college that can be “reached” for one student may be “likely” for another. Your list will vary depending on your performance in college and the average profile of students that the university has accepted in previous years.
Some colleges have what is called “rolling admission” instead of having regular or early admissions. With rolling admissions, the earlier you apply to a college, the sooner you will receive a response. Universities with this type of admission usually accept applications until the end of April or even during the month of June and July.
Time to investigate
Now that you know some common terms used by universities, your first step has to be to do your research. There are more than two thousand universities throughout the United States, how do you choose which one you want to apply to?
First ask yourself some questions about what you are looking for in a university: “Do I know what I want to study? Are there certain extracurricular activities that are essential for me? Do I want to live near a city or in the suburbs?
Countless websites have interactive voting tools that generate lists of potential colleges according to your needs and questions. For example, the College Board offers such a tool.
Creating your college list
Once you have narrowed your list down to 10 or 20 colleges, you will have to do your research on each one. Maybe they all fit the criteria you had in mind, but which ones offer you better options?
The most effective way to research colleges is to visit their campus or ask former students about their college experiences. If you do not have the possibility to travel and visit this university, there are many that offer virtual visits; You can even search for student blogs to get more information.
Review the requirements and deadlines
After finalizing your list, it’s time to work out the details. Most colleges have fairly standard requirements: an application, a personal essay, two or three letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and your standardized test scores. But there are often variations on this list, especially for international students (you may have to submit TOEFL and SAT results). Generally, the application deadline is also the deadline for all supporting documents, so it is important that you check the status of your applications throughout the process.