The US Application process varies from program to program.
The main elements of the application process include pre-application preparation, university selection, application form filling, resume preparation, financial statement planning, crafting a statement of purpose (SOP), and securing recommendations. Certain programs also require interviews to secure admission.
Each element is explained in detail below.
In the pre-application preparation phase, students should focus on taking any required standardized tests (explained below) as well as on creating a strong academic, extracurricular and professional track record.
Students may have to take one or more of the following standardized tests depending on the program and universities chosen.
SAT and Subject SATs: The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is required for students applying for Undergraduate degrees at most universities. It tests the student on critical reading, math and writing. It is largely a multiple-choice test which also includes an optional 50-minute essay section that is require by some colleges.
Subject SATs test the student on specific subjects and may be required for admission to certain programs. A student may take multiple tests from the 20 subject tests conducted by ETS. These are 1 hour long and are mostly multiple choice.
TOEFL: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required by a large number of US universities for students who are non-native English speakers. The TOEFL measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. The computer based test is about 4 and a half hours long.
IELTS: IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is also a test of English and is widely accepted by US universities as an alternative to TOEFL. Like the TOEFL, the IELTS also measures English reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. It is a computer based test, however the speaking section is a face to face interview with a certified examiner. The reading, writing and listening modules are two and a half hours long.
GRE: The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is required by most graduate programs in US universities. It is a test of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The computer based test is 3 hours long and is a combination of writing as well as multiple choice questions.
GMAT: The GMAT he GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required of students applying for a graduate business or MBA programs in most US universities. The test is conducted by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council). The GMAT is a test of Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing skills and is a 3 and a half-hour long, computer-based test.
Learn more about pre-application preparation on our blog.
There are over 5000+ universities and colleges in the US.
Universities and programs vary vastly in quality, which is why students have to be selective in which universities they apply to. Selecting 5-10 universities from a list of 5000 requires through knowledge of these universities, their programs, their academic reputation and as well as their placement record – information that isn’t easily available online.
From the student fit perspective, the university should be selected based on their academic, extracurricular and professional track record as well as future aspirations.
Our University Shortlisting service helps students navigate this process and find their best-fit university list.
University application forms typically ask about the student’s personal details and background as well as academic and professional history. Most forms are typically online, but in few cases can be filled as downloadable forms and paper documents as well. Application forms must be filled with accuracy to ensure that there are no complications after securing admission to the college. Disha helps students understand how to fill out the form, clearing every doubt both in-person and over the phone.
Applications to graduate degree programs typically require students to submit a 1-page resume. The resume is a crucial document as it gives universities a one-stop-shop glance at your academic and professional record and conveys the impact the student has been able to make so far.Resumes require effective formatting and content editing to ensure that the student is representing their best self in a clear, concise manner.
As part of the application package, students are typically required to submit documents of financial standing. These include proof of funding in the form of cash holdings and assets. These documents are required to show that the student has sufficient funds to cover the expected expenses of the program. Each university will usually have an estimate of annual expenses to help determine the amount of funds required for the entire course of study.
The statement of purpose (SOP) is one of the most critical parts of the application. In this essay, students have to effectively convey why they are interested in the program they are applying to and what makes them a good fit for the program. A compelling SOP can help students overcome barriers to admission such as a lack of work experience or a less-than-amazing academic track record.
In addition to the basic SOP, Certain programs, especially MBA and undergraduate programs, require various additional supplemental essays. These essays require students to introspect and reveal a personal trait or experience that the student may have had during his past academic or professional life that explain their future aspirations.
At Disha, we have a tired and tested brainstorming process to highlight the most impactful and interesting stories from your life so far. We go beyond the resume to help you bring out the unique traits that will differentiate your application from other students.
Beyond a student’s academic and professional record, a recommendation is a strong vote of confidence from their employer or professors. Letters of Recommendation usually contain information about how the recommender knows the applicant and reasons why he should be accepted as a student in the university. Typically, graduate and undergraduate applications require 2 recommenders to submit independent recommendations.
Highly selective graduate and MBA programs as well as undergraduate programs have required or optional admissions interviews. The format of the interview varies by university and program. They are typically conducted by a member of the Admissions team or by an alumnus from the university. Interviews can cover many topics but classic questions include – why this program, why this university, and what are your future plans?
At Disha, we conduct mock interviews to ensure students are prepared for each admission interview.