Timing really is everything sometimes. It can make us and it can break us. As a potential international student you will have loads of documents to fill out and many steps to complete. It is crucial that you do these tasks in a timely manner so you meet all of the necessary deadlines. I applied to a school late once and I ended up having to wait to attend until the following quarter (Winter quarter). This made registering for classes a huge pain in the neck.
In the U.S. many classes are in sequence, the first-class beginning Fall quarter or first semester and the last class concluding Spring quarter or second semester. So I had to wait almost a whole year to take certain courses, which cost me extra time and money. I don't want you to go through an experience similar to mine. Here is an excellent timeline from EducationUSA that will help you stay organized on track: 12 TO 18 MONTHS PRIOR to the academic year in which you hope to enroll, begin to consider, research, and do the following:
- What are your reasons for wanting to study in the United States?
- Which universities will meet your needs?
- Will you need financial assistance?
- Find out application and financial aid deadlines. This will affect when you take the standardized tests required for admission since test results must reach admissions offices no later than these deadlines. The tests should be taken in advance of submitting university application forms.
- Register to take standardized tests if required by the universities to which you are applying.
- Begin narrowing down your choices of schools to approximately 10 to 20 institutions.
12 MONTHS PRIOR to enrollment, complete the following (months indicated are estimates, based on fall enrollment): AUGUST
- Contact universities for application and financial aid forms and catalogs.
- Obtain test registration forms or register on the web to take the TOEFL, the ACT, and SAT I and SAT II, if necessary.
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER
- Continue narrowing down your choice of schools. While some students apply to more, 5 to 10 well-researched choices are sufficient.
- Request an official transcript from your school.
- Request letters of recommendation from your teachers.
- Submit completed application forms (for admission as well as financial aid).
- Double check that transcripts and references have been sent.
- Take the necessary admissions tests.
JANUARY - APRIL
- University application deadlines must be met; note that these are for regular admission — early admission deadlines will be sooner.
APRIL - JUNE
- Letters of acceptance or rejection arrive. Decide which university to attend, notify the admissions office of your decision, complete and return any forms they require.
- Send letters of regret to those universities you turn down.
- Organize finances: arrange to transfer funds to a U.S. bank; make sure you have funds for travel and expenses on arrival.
- Finalize arrangements for housing and medical insurance with your university.
JUNE - AUGUST
- Use information from your Form I-20 or DS-2019 to fill out the SEVIS Form I-901 and pay the $100 required SEVIS fee (see SEVIS information for description of SEVIS form and fee).
- Upon receipt of your I-20 and SEVIS I-901 payment receipt, apply to your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa. This should be as far in advance of your departure date as possible (see "Visas").
- Make travel arrangements.
- Contact the International Student Office at your university with details of your arrival plans, and confirm details of any orientation for new students held by the university.
For more information on programs in the U.S. go to StudyUSA.com
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