Application Considerations

Complete applications

About a year before prospective students want to begin university, they should finish compiling the information needed and submit the finalized applications. Complete applications are typically due between November and April. Early decision applications that require applicants to enroll in that university, if they are accepted are due earlier. 

Online application accounts

Although university applications tend to be similar from university to university, specific requirements can change from year-to-year. Creating an account on the Common Application and the Coalition for College and other university support websites like the College Board can help applicants to keep track of what needs to be done and when for each university. These online application platforms make it easy to submit required documents, such as transcripts, recommendation letters, essays, and other information in one place as demonstrated by New York University – Abu Dhabi admissions. Students should note that there is a 50-100 USD fee to apply to most universities.

Application components

There are several common components required in university applications, including transcripts of academic study, standardized test scores, essays or personal statements, and recommendation letters.

Transcripts – International applicants are required to submit academic transcripts that have been evaluated by Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) or World Education Services (WES).

Standardized entrance exam scores – Scores on exams such as TOEFL and IELTS and Duolingo help universities know non-native English language speakers’ language proficiency. Other exam scores provide an indication of applied academic knowledge and skills.

Essays – Undergraduate studies applicants are usually required to submit college essays and graduate school applicants may also need to submit a statement of purpose, information on their future research interests, or a preliminary research proposal (for doctoral program applicants).

Recommendation letters – These letters should be written by people who can write with familiarity about the applicant’s academic performance and potential. It is helpful for applicants to give their recommender background information, such as:

  • List of universities and why they chose them
  • Study plans and hopes for the future
  • Academic achievements and extracurricular activities to highlight

Financial information – Although most international students are not eligible for federal financial aid, many universities require prospective students to submit financial information through the online College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile in order to be considered for merit-based scholarship, grants, or fellowships.