Tips for International Students Applying to College in the United States


Studying in the United States is a dream for many students around the world. It is true that going to the United States for his studies may be a great and very exciting opportunity for his resume but not only, you could also improve your English. However, as an international student, you need to prepare this process early.


This is the first step you have to do, in our times searching information became very easy. Through the Internet you have a large choice of websites that may help you to find information about the university. Before that, you have to know that the American academic system may have a lot of differences with the system where you from. In the United States, there are two kinds of universities:

- The Community colleges or sometimes called junior colleges are two-year colleges, there are often less big than four-year colleges and also less expensive. After these two years, you will earn certificates, diplomas, or associate's degrees. Moreover, you could choose to continue your studies and asking for a transfer to a four-year university.

- The four-year colleges are the basic way for many international students, in these colleges you could have a better academic experience for example in Sciences and Arts. Currently, the most famous universities around the world are Ivy League universities like Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Yale… Nevertheless, did you know? There are a lot of universities, less selective than Ivy League colleges. They are also good ranked (Duke University, Williams College or University of Pennsylvania.


I suggest you two websites I used: College Board or College Factual may help you in this process when you create your account, complete information required about you like your GPA, your score on the ACT/SAT whether already taken, and more. Then they will reduce the number of colleges in the list, to display only the colleges that fits better with your interest!

College Factual has more option in the process, then they will send you a report by e-mail with the major, colleges that fit better with your interest. Above all, never forget that you will spend two to year years in the same college so you might choose it closely. I suggest you learn more about the Student Life of the university you are interested in.


Many universities want students to take standardized tests, whether you are an international student or not, you must take one of those tests: The ACT or The SAT. You should note that you have to pay to take these tests, about $50 for the US test centers and about $100 for international students because of the tax for international test centers outside US due of $41.

These ones are needed to join a university, better will be your score better your chances to join a selective or most selective school will increase but the score does not guarantee you a place in a college because you are above the average of first year students and in the same case that is not because you have a score below the average that you won’t be admitted.

The University during the application process will review closely your application with your academic GPA from your 9th to 12th grade of high school, score on the SAT/ACT tests, your essays, and then your extracurricular activities. You should also know that these tests may be a great opportunity for international students, indeed in certain colleges, if your score on the English test (ACT) or critical reading (SAT) are above a given score by your university, you have exempted to take the TOEFL or IELTS to prove your English sufficiency and you will save $200.


After having found the right colleges you want to attend and having taken the test, you will have to manage your application. Some universities use the Common Application, other use another application method that they own on their websites and others ones use a state application like Apply Texas which regroups all the US Universities issues from the Texas system.

Here, will be the longest part of the process, like a 400m race, that part will be the 300m-400m. Application begins in August 1st, and the Regular application deadlines are about December to February. You will have four months to complete your application, including personal information, academic curriculum, interested major(s), and essay(s), so that’s why it is important to prepare that early.

For the admission process, there are usually two main deadlines: Early Decision (November 1st) and Regular Application deadline (November 30th to March 1st). There are multiple information in the application to give, you have to get your high school reports traduced by a sworn translator and send the authentic version, teacher recommendations, whether it’s required, a sample sheet which list all your high school extracurricular activities to complete this part quickly.

You could find more information about the admission process or how to write your college essay in our book: You Got into Where, written by Joi Wade.


Financial need-based aid is not the same for the US citizens and for international students. The US government wants international students to be able to pay all their expenses for their first year of university. So how could you pay the tuition and fees which are around $15.000 to $80.000 for university?

First of all, don’t step back because of the huge cost of education or because you don’t have that money. Those prices are generally not what you will have to pay! I am going to explain, as an international student you may be eligible for merit scholarship, but they are very competitive, only the best are awarded. Secondly, if you are very good in Football, Basketball or Track, try to do your sport in college, then you could receive a scholarship from your coach to play for your college. Try to contact coaches of the university where you want to get into and they will respond to your questions.

You can also earn financial aid from your home country, if you are a good student or you have a great plan for college, you should ask to your high school guidance counselor help to get city, department, region or national scholarship.

Thirdly, Some colleges give financial need-based aid, these colleges are usually one of the most competitive. The application rate of these colleges is often under 20%. To be admitted in these colleges, you should have a strong academic curriculum.