This week, let’s discuss the process of applying to US universities. We will look at the process and terms that you will need to know.
Each university has its own unique admissions process and application deadlines. As part of shortlisting your Universities, note down the application deadline, requirements and the codes of the university for reporting your scores.
You will have to apply to each University separately. It will generally involve completing an application online and sending the supporting documents through postal mail or courier. The good news is that the application form and details asked are very similar for most universities.
Create a single document with all the information you need for completing the application. Collect all details like passport number, issue date, expiry dates, addresses, education years and college details into this document. Also have a credit card ready to pay the application fees.
Apply for your education transcripts (bachelor’s degree). Apply for more sets than you actually need in case you have to send some copies to education evaluation agencies like WES. Keep all other required documents like SOP, LORs, Resume ready too.
Start applying as soon as you are ready without waiting till the application deadline. Applying early gives you enough time to provide any missing documents requested by the University. Some universities start processing applications as soon as they receive them. This will give advantage for the students who apply early and may become very competitive as the deadlines approach. Other Universities collect all applications till the deadline, and an admissions committee reviews the pool of applicants and grants admissions. Universities take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks to make the decision.
You have to consider time required for the following along with application deadlines:
If the university requires a WES or similar NACES evaluation of your bachelor’s degree include that time into you application deadlines. These services generally take around two weeks to complete an evaluation.
Time required for reporting GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores to the University. For example: GRE score reports take anywhere from 5 to 10 business days to be sent to the University.
Time for sending your Official transcripts, LORs etc. through courier or postal mail.
You will be creating a login and password for each university application on the University website. Most of them assign you a Student ID when the application is submitted.
You can use your student Id and the login to track the status of your application. Once the decision on your application is made, you will get an email with the decision.
Some important terms to know during this process:
I-20 form & SEVIS:
SEVIS: stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information system. It’s an online system of Department of homeland security to track students coming on F1 and J1 visas. Every university that is eligible to accept international students will have a login to this system. The University must keep it updated with students have been issued I-20, who joined the university and who left the university.
I-20: is the official government form that is needed for an International student to go the Visa interview. Without an I-20 you cannot attend the visa interview at a US embassy. The university generates this by entering your information into the SEVIS system.
If your qualifications match the program requirements but your English test (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE) are low, the university may offer you conditional admission.
It means you will be joining their English school and doing English courses. Once you successfully pass those courses you will be admitted to the main program.
With the new rules, when u get an I-20 under conditional admissions your I-20 is only issued for the time of the English school (which is generally one semester). Once you complete that successfully, the University will issue a new I-20 for the main Master’s program.
Deposit for I-20 :
Once you are admitted, some universities might ask for a deposit to issue an I-20. The Universities do this to make sure which students are actually joining the program. When you join the University, the deposit money is used towards your tuition fee. If your visa is denied, the University will refund the deposit amount. If you don’t join the University, you will lose this deposit. Pay the deposit only if you are sure about joining the University.
Financial documentation :
Most universities want to make sure you have enough funds for education before issuing the I-20. The names and formats are different between universities. Some of the names used are, ‘Financial Work Sheet’, ‘Certificate of Financial Responsibility’, ‘Affidavit of Support’ etc.
Whatever the name, they want to see proof of your funds that cover your tuition and living expenses. If documenting your income is difficult for you, it’s better to have an education loan approved and keep the approval handy.
Deferring Admission :
If you get accepted to a University, but cannot attend that admission season because of any reasons, you may not have to apply again. Most universities are willing to defer (postpone) your admission by a semester or a year if you provide valid reasons for it.
Apply by yourself or Use a Consultancy:
Applying to US universities is a straight forward process and can be done easily by yourself. If you have a question or a concern, Universities will be able to answer them very quickly. Universities do not share your application status with any other person.
However, If you using the services of an Education agency or consultant, make sure you are actively involved in the process. If the consultant makes any mistakes while applying on your behalf, apart from getting the application denied you will also lose valuable time and money. However, if the consultant has partnership with the University, he may be able to track the status of your application better.
While the applications process is quite straight forward and simple, waiting for your admission results can be quite nerve wrecking. We wish you all the best with your applications.
Next lesson, we will tackle the last hurdle on your path to US study: Visa Interview. It will be a very in depth article covering areas on interview and what answers are expected of you. Do not miss it!
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