Are you looking to study in the USA and have no idea where to start looking? Most universities tend to look for similar things, but not all of them have the same requirements. The main thing that they will assess is the college application which demonstrates your hard work over the years. Not all of them will have a chance to meet you in person and get to know you. this is why you need to be able to demonstrate some things, be it on paper (your college essay), or with your grades (your high school transcript), or with certificates of activities you’ve completed or awards you’ve received.
The application usually includes the following:
1. Almost all of them will ask you also to send your SAT or TOEFL scores, so this is something you should start preparing for as soon as possible. It might take up to a month for your scores to reach the colleges, so don’t leave these tests to the last minute or you will miss your application deadlines. Best time to take these tests is in Grade 11.
2. Your official high school transcripts: your grades – or your performance in different subjects – is the main indicator of how the admissions officers will assess your application. Usually they focus on your performance in Grades 10 and 11, but if you haven’t done your best in the early years, you still have time to turn it around in Grade 11 and 12, in fact if you show improvement over the years that is even better.
3. A college essay: Sometimes the university will give you a specific topic to write about, but other times they will ask you to write something personal to tell them about yourself. This is your chance to impress them with your writing skills, or with talking about things you are passionate about that don’t necessarily show in your transcripts or scores. Ask your English teacher for help with this, or look for local writing workshops if your school doesn’t offer any. Start writing this essay as early as fall of your junior year (Grade 11) so it gives you time to get feedback and revise it.
4. A recommendation: It’s very beneficial to get a letter of recommendation (or two) from teachers who know you best. The teacher (or counselor) who writes this letter is not required to show it to you, and will seal the letter before submitting it on your behalf. So, make sure to keep solid relationships with your teachers, because if you haven’t been on your best behavior with them, they have the right to refuse to write you a recommendation! Also make sure to give them enough time to write it, remember, teachers are very busy!
5. Completed Application Form – some universities have their own application form on their website, and others use the CommonApp – make sure to do your research and see which ones they require and don’t leave anything incomplete.