College and university applications – what do I need?


The requirements for university applications vary from one institution to the other. Be careful to follow every step. Some universities ask applicants to write one or more essays. The topic could range from personal goals to past achievements. These types of application packages are often quite time consuming to put together. It is often more effective to focus on a handful universities rather than applying to a dozen or more universities.

All universities have different acceptance rates of applicants. Low acceptance rates are often associated with prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Higher acceptance rates do not equal lower quality education. For instance, location, university size, and type of degrees offered also affect the final cost. Universities with higher acceptance rates could be used as backup universities if one is not accepted into the primary choices.

Application packages usually require the following:

1) Application fee
A non-refundable fee charged for processing the application. The fee is usually around $50 but could be as high as several hundred dollars for some universities.


2) Grades and Transcripts
Students are required to submit all high school and any additional higher education grades as a part of the application process. These transcripts needs to be translated to English and certified. There are usually three ways to translate grades:

  1. Some high schools can provide students with an English version of their grades. This is usually the easiest and fastest method.
  2. There are a number of different companies providing translation services. Check your local yellow pages for the nearest authorized translation company.
  3. You can do your own translation of the grades and then have Notarius Publicus sign and stamp the grades.

Most universities also require that all transcripts be mailed directly from your high school or institution attended. If this is the case, ask the school officials to mail out the translated grades to the universities you are applying to.


3) Test Results
International students are required to submit proof of English proficiency in the form of a TOEFL test result. Test results needs to be sent directly from the organization administrating the test. The result is mailed out no earlier than five weeks after you have taken the test. When you take the TOEFL test, you can list up to four institutions that will receive a copy. You should therefore decide which top four universities you are interested in even before taking the TOEFL test.
Any other tests required such as SAT, SAT II, ACT or need to be submitted in the same manner.

4) Recommendation Letters
Recommendation letters are often an important part of being accepted. High school and university professors who can describe your academic and other qualities are good sources. Just like many other documents submitted, these have to be sent directly from the person recommending the student, i.e. directly from the high school on their letterhead. Make sure that all documents are submitted before the deadline of your application or the university might not accept them.


5) Financial Proof
Students are required to submit proof of how they will be financing their studies. Examples include: bank statements showing personal funds, proof of governmental loans/grants, and scholarships rewarded.


6) Essays
Essays are sometimes required or strongly suggested in order to be accepted into a university. Make sure that you follow all guidelines to the point and submit the essay together with your application. University application screeners often do not read the entire essay. It is therefore important to capture the reader in the very first part of your essay. Take a look at for more information about how to make your essay stand out.


Waiting for Acceptance

Depending on the type of evaluation method of the university, it usually takes one to three months before you will receive an answer. If the university uses rolling admissions, students are notified as their applications are evaluated. Other universities notify all students on one specific date



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