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Updated September Timeline for International Students: Are You on Track?

Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | by WES Advisor

U.S. admissions international students

Fall is upon us! If you recently started a new semester, welcome back to school! Or, if you are gearing up for the admissions cycle, this is the time to start focusing on your priorities. September should be the month when you lay the groundwork for the upcoming application deadline season. See our checklist and tips below to ensure you are on track.

If you plan to enroll at a U.S. college or university in fall 2019:

Create a Spreadsheet

Using a program such as Excel, Google Sheets, or Numbers, create a spreadsheet to keep track of the different universities you are applying to, their various application requirements, and their respective application deadlines. You can find a sample Excel spreadsheet here. Utilizing a spreadsheet like this one will help you stay organized, so you do not miss a deadline.

Shortlist Your Colleges

Identify your “reach,” match,” and “safety” schools. These are the tiers of schools you will apply to, based on the strength of your credentials and admissions application.

Start Your College Essay and Get It Peer Reviewed

  • Undergraduate students: Check out the Common Application Essay Prompts here.
  • Graduate students: Be sure to review all the different essay prompts and personal statement guidelines by visiting each university’s website.

Schedule Test Dates for Any Remaining Language Proficiency Exams

Schedule your test dates as soon as possible since many testing centers around the world fill up quickly.

Gather Your School Transcripts

  • Undergraduate students: Many universities will accept your transcript without grades for your last year, so be sure to request your transcript early. However, universities will ask for the final official transcript once you graduate or upon arrival at the university.
  • Graduate students: If you attended various institutions and transferred universities as an undergraduate, be sure to start contacting schools for your official transcript as these can take several weeks to process and mail.

If you are applying for fall 2020:

Start Researching

It is never too late to start researching schools. Start by listing some schools that you may have heard of or have dreamed about attending. Check out the school websites to learn more about these schools and the programs they offer. Some schools even have virtual information sessions on specific degree programs for prospective students. During these sessions, students can ask questions, learn more about the program, and hear from faculty members.

Sign Up for Admissions Mailing Lists

Many university admissions offices have email lists that send you reminders or updates on the admissions process. Request to be added to the email lists for prospective students. Visit the schools’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to stay up-to-date.

Find Out Who Can Help You

If you have a college counselor at your school, schedule a meeting to talk to them about studying abroad in the U.S. If you do not have one, check out community organizations, local libraries, and higher education institutions to seek help.

Plan Your Test-Taking Strategy

  • Get supplemental materials to help you study for the college entrance exams, such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT.
  • Check Facebook and Twitter to find other students in your area and to join local study groups.

Plan Out Your Last Year of School

  • Future undergraduate students: Try to plan out a rigorous academic schedule for your last year. Colleges and universities value advanced classes and a challenging curriculum because, by excelling in these courses, you demonstrate that you are prepared to study at the collegiate level.
  • Future graduate students: Be sure to have all of your relevant major classes planned out.

Many schools have an admissions checklist specifically for international students, like this one from Maryville University. Check each school’s International Admission Checklist to see the exact admissions guidelines and the documents required for Form I-20 issuance.

If you have any questions, email or call the school’s admissions office. It is better to get clarification about a requirement rather than making a mistake that may end up with your application getting rejected.

Related Reading

Determining College Fit: Five Steps to Narrowing Down Your College List

The U.S. Admissions Process: Admitting Classmates, Not Just Students

WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 40 years of experience in international education. We provide tips and advice for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, and immigration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.