6 Things to Remember When Applying to American Colleges

American Colleges Getting ready to attend college is exciting, so you might accidentally overlook a few details. Every student should know these six things to remember when applying to American colleges. They cover everything from how to pay for college in the U.S. to filling out your applications.

Take note while you read this guide so you don’t forget any of these crucial details. They’ll make the process easier so your college experience is enjoyable before you ever move onto campus.

1. Complete Required Standardized Tests

When people wonder how to apply for American colleges, they often get wrapped up in the many acronyms that represent standardized tests. Standardized testing is a broad way for students to prove that they’re ready for advanced classes, but your secondary school might not offer them if you’re not in the U.S.

Look into virtual opportunities to take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) exam. You may also have to pass the English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam unless you intend to study English.

Every university and college will have different test score requirements. Make sure you know what scores you need for your favorite schools before sitting down for each test.

2. Apply All at Once

Filling out a college application can take a while. Completing multiple takes even longer. Apply to various colleges at one time with the common application. It’s a website that links numerous universities and institutions so you only have to fill out your information once. You may or may not have to complete essays before submitting, depending on where you apply.

The common application can also save a significant amount of money. You won’t need to pay for multiple applications or shipping your transcripts to additional campuses.

3. Fill Out Yearly FAFSA Forms

Financial questions always make the list of what to expect from college in the U.S. The country has a notorious reputation for saddling young people with student loans, but you can mitigate your financial responsibilities by planning different payment methods.

Anyone can add to a savings account or apply for scholarships. You can also fill out a Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) form. It provides financial aid based on what you can pay, even if you don’t have a large income. Make a note in your calendar to apply for a FAFSA each year, since they’re available every fall and only last through one academic year.

4. Decide What You Want

While you read about how to pay for college in the U.S., make sure you know what you want for your education. A college typically only provides courses for bachelor’s degrees, while universities also offer graduate programs. Knowing the difference will clarify how much tuition you’ll pay and what you can learn over the next few years.

5. Get Active With Extracurriculars

Extracurriculars are another thing every student should know concerning how to apply for American colleges. Application review boards want to know their future students will succeed in the classroom and contribute to campus life. Volunteer in the community, join school clubs or get a job.

Spend your time developing skills review boards seek out, like leadership and initiative. You’ll round out your application and stand out from the many other applicants vying for the same spot.

6. Mark Those Deadlines

There are a few different possible deadlines for American college applications. Early decision plans and early action plans have faster deadlines and are typically what people mention when they talk about what to expect from college in the U.S.

You’ll likely know if you’ve been accepted a few months after applying, but early decision plans require your attendance if you’re accepted. Early action gives you more time to consider whether you’ll accept, which gives you more time to get decision letters from other schools.

Regular decision applicants submit their paperwork in the fall and get their admissions decision no later than April 1. After you get your offer, you have a month to decide if that’s where you want to go. Depending on when you want to start college and what kind of timeline your financial aid requires, you should check out each deadline and decide which is best for your situation.

Start Applying to American Colleges With Ease

These are just six things to remember when applying for American colleges, but they could make or break your experience. As long as you know how to minimize your application fees, get financial aid and adhere to the right deadlines, you’ll hear back from your top college picks in a flash.

About the Author

Ginger Abbot is a freelance writer and the Editor-in-Chief of Classrooms, an online learning magazine for students, graduates and educators.