Applications Preparation University

US Universities: Common Application Tips

Thinking of applying to US universities? We’re here to help! Bryan, Aaryaa, Elena, and Jon take you through the application process. This advice was initially given at a Global Virtual Summit, and was written up by High School Ambassador Celine.

Application tips

Application timelines vary from school to school, so make sure to check the school website for the specific dates and times. Here is the general timeline:

➝Late July- August: applications open/essay prompts are released

➝November: early decision and early applications deadlines, and most merit-based scholarship 
application deadlines

➝January – early February: Regular decision/early decision ll application deadlines

➝January – April: Interviews and Regular decision results (late March)

➝May 1st: Commit to a school

You can only apply to one college for early decisions and if you get in, you are obliged to attend that school. This may change if there are any external circumstances that might prevent you from attending that school. For early action you can also only apply to one school, but if you get in you are not required to study there.

Waitlisted students can commit to a school on May 1st, and reach out to see if they have been admitted to the school they were waitlisted for.

Essential parts of a US application

Essays

You have two main types of essays:

➝Common application essays: This essay gets sent to all the schools you apply to. It’s a 650 word essay that you choose from several prompts.It helps universities understand: you as a person, your values as a student and how they’ll manifest in their university environment, and your abilities.

➝University supplements: These are essays that a university requires you to write just for that university. There are usually 2-4 essays per school so you will write a LOT of essays (e.g. 10 schools → expect about 30-40 essays). You can adapt essays for one school to fit another school’s essay questions.

Extracurriculars: 

This varies from person to person, but here is a list of things extracurriculars may include:

  • Sports
  • Music
  • Arts
  • Organizations you’ve joined/made
  • Volunteering and community service
  • Student gouvernement
  • Hobbies
  • Etc.

Recommendation letters:

Usually you have 1 counselor recommendation, and it is optional to have another recommendation letter from someone else. Some colleges, depending on your major, will require specific letters from a certain major.

e.g. MIT requires one from a STEM subject, and another from a social science subject

Grades:

You will need your IB predicted grades, your high school report as well as your standardized test scores and English Proficiency Tests (ACT/SAT I/SAT II /TOEFL/IELTS etc.)


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