Timeline for international students to apply for universities abroad

Jul 31, 2022
1 min read
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This wiki is based on a 12-year high school system, with the application deadline being ~January.

Fall 11th grade

1.5 years before the deadline

  1. If you have a college counselor, book your first appointment.

  2. Start discussing your plans for studying abroad with your parents.

  3. Start building your College List: note down university names, requirements, financial aid, programs, and deadlines. Keep everything in one place.

  4. Check available language test dates in your city and register. Spots for such tests can fill up quickly, and having a set date will make your preparation process much more efficient (yes, I know that you procrastinate😉)

  5. Review your extracurricular activities and stop pursuing activities that don’t add value to your application. If you spend 10 hours a week in school clubs where you don’t hold any leadership position, it’s time to set your priorities. You should either quit or make a plan to take on more responsibilities.

  6. Pay attention to your grades, as universities will check grades for the last 2-3 years of high school.

Spring 11th grade

10 months before the deadline

  1. It’s the start of a new semester, so pay extra attention to your grades!

  2. Retake language tests, aiming to up your score as much as possible.

  3. Request letters of recommendation from your favorite teachers. By asking them in advance you demonstrate how serious you are about college! You also give them enough time to produce a high-quality letter without rushing them.

  4. Think about how you will spend your summer. Is it possible to do an internship, or double down on your personal projects? Trust me, 3 months is enough to do impressive things🚀

Summer after 11th grade

7 months before the deadline

  1. Finalize your College List by the end of the summer. In some countries, like the UK, applications open as early as September, so be ready!

  2. Re-take language tests and aim for your final desired score. Try not to postpone this until fall, because it’ll get crazy busy!

  3. Spend a lot of time working on your college essays.

  4. If you are applying in the US, you can already register on the common app and start filling it out.

Fall 12th grade

4 months before the deadline

We’re getting close! Take a deep breath because this fall will be the busiest time of your life.

  1. Add the finishing touches to your Personal Statement & other college essays.

  2. Reach out to your teachers and get your recommendation letters in their final version. Translate them to English, if necessary.

  3. Start collecting the rest of your documents: transcripts, financial documents, etc.

  4. [for the US] You must decide whether you are applying for Early Decision or Regular Decision. Early Decision enrollment rates tend to be higher, although universities claim there is no advantage.

    • ED deadline is ~ November 1st. The results come out in December.

    • RD deadline is ~January 1st. The results come out in March.

  5. Don't forget to keep track of your grades!

Winter 12th grade

It’s deadline time!

  1. Submit all your documents.

  2. Submit a CSS Profile if you are applying in the USA.

  3. Have a party because you did an amazing job🎉🎉

Spring 12th grade

Decision time

  1. Prepare for your college interviews: practice a lot and talk to students & alumni

  2. Get your decisions and have another party!🎉

  3. Thank your teachers and professors for their support.

  4. Start networking with students or alumni through Facebook groups or other social networks.

  5. Don't let your academics drop, even though you've already enrolled.


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