Discover Studying Abroad

The Rules of Application: Starting Steps toward University

Being well informed, well in advance, about the application procedures for undergraduate programs, can give you a head start in the tight race for admissions to university in North America, the U.K., and Australia.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   01-02-2013

Four countries that see some of the largest numbers of international students, and the largest proportion of Indian students flocking to their shores, are the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia.

Do note that when you are applying to universities abroad, you must check the authenticity of the course, degree, and institution you are applying to – especially if you are unfamiliar with the institution. Remember that the embassy or high commission of that country, in your region, is the best place to start with when you’re starting your journey and looking for advice.

Below is our basic guide to what you should keep in mind when you apply to undergraduate programs in these countries.

Each individual institution in the U.S. is responsible for putting out their own application criteria. Do look at the website of the university you are applying to, for the detailed information. Here is an overview of basic materials required:

Look at universities that provide a good match for your interests and academic background.

It is advisable to start the process at least 15 to 18 months before the proposed date of admission. You can download application forms from the university website, and send any questions to the admissions office there.

Note that the U.S. is very specific over the need to have completed twelve years of school-level education to be eligible for an undergraduate course.

Submit your secondary school report and transcripts of exam results. The school report should be filled out by an academic official at your school.

TOEFL is mandatory for international students and the SAT is required by nearly all universities. A few universities may also ask for SAT 2 subject tests or the ACT test in place of the SAT. These tests should be taken by the end of the second to last year of school.

Students should get letters of recommendation (following the guidelines given by the institutions) from teachers who know you well. Letters which seem impersonal can jeopardize an application.

Personal essays are important to helping university admissions officers evaluate your application so be sure to be thoughtful and honest when writing these. They can also lend support to any following application for financial aid.

Evidence of financial support is required by universities to issue documents needed for visa application. You will also be required to submit bank statements and documentation of your family’s financial resources to help the university assess your need for extra grants to cover the cost of attending.


When to apply?

Early admission plans: About 450 universities across the U.S. offer early admission plans - students can apply by university-set dates in October of their final year in school. They will inform applicants of a decision by December/January.

Regular admission dates: January 1 is the most common application deadline, with just a handful of universities requesting applications by Feb 1.

There are differences in the application process if you are applying to colleges and universities in different provinces of Canada. Keep these in mind when researching to apply.

Many Canadian provinces maintain databases of the programs offered by their institutions and some provide a centralized, on-line registration system:

The Directory of Universities, Colleges and Schools in the Provinces and Territories of Canada: lists Canada's recognized, authorized, registered, and licensed institutions.

Unlike many countries, there is no formal ranking of universities and colleges in Canada. Undergraduate university programs are considered to be uniform in quality.

Once you have decided where to apply, check the website of the institution’s office of admissions and ask for detailed application information and forms. They will inform you of documentation and visa requirements.

Most universities are accepting electronic applications these days, but some may still require the mailing in of a postal application – check with the institution you are applying to.

A test of English is mandatory – either TOEFL, IELTS, or one of the self-administered English proficiency tests which individual Canadian universities carry – which are generically administered by the CEC in India. Check which is required.

Decisions are usually announced 4-6 months after the application deadline, although this can vary.

Contact the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your region to find information on obtaining a visa. The university you have been accepted to will provide requisite letters, but you will need to request these.

Contact the financial aid office of the university you wish to attend, for information about scholarships and other awards.


When to apply?

In most Canadian universities and colleges, the academic year is divided into two terms; the fall semester (September-December), and the winter semester (January-May), with a short break for Christmas.

Deadlines for application to the September session fall between mid-December and the end of March, but it is always better to be prepared ahead of time.

All applications to the UK are managed by a single body – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – better known as UCAS. On, you can search for courses, find out about entry requirements, create, submit your application, and track progress.

Research thoroughly and think carefully about which course you want to pursue and why. Some courses will require an admission test, others particular skills and qualifications. Find out which test of English you will have to submit – it is usually the IELTS or the TOEFL in the U.K., though some institutions such as Cambridge University and Oxford University, have their own test requirements.

Use UCAS’s online application system: The site explains each section of the application, helps to assess your application eligibility – and notes closing dates. When you have completed the admission section, UCAS will send your forms to the institutions you have applied to.

You can check if you have been accepted, via the UCAS online tracking system, Track, which shows you your choices and decisions of acceptance made by the institutions. However, this offer is conditional based on results of your final exams, which will be received after the offer has been placed, in most cases.

UCAS receives test results for a set of qualifications including the International Baccalaureate (IB). It then sends the results to your chosen institution. If your qualification is not on their list, you are responsible for sending your test results to your chosen university.  

What happens next is determined by your exam results – if you meet the conditions for admission, you will be notified of your acceptance by UCAS.


When to apply?

UCAS forms should be submitted before 15th December of the preceding year.
For Oxford and Cambridge Universities, applications are due before October 15 of the year preceding that of proposed entry.

Applications to Australia are relatively simple – you must get in touch directly with the university or college of your choice to find out what each requires.

The main intake of students is in February each year, with a second intake in July (some institutions also have an October intake).

Application deadline for the February intake is November/December – but some courses may have earlier deadlines, so do check carefully.

Visa requirements include a letter of a full offer of admission from your university, and proof of how you plan to pay for your education and living expenses during your time in Australia.


When to apply?

Send enquiries at least 12 months before the proposed date of admission.

Do remember that your application will require the results of a test of English as a foreign language – the IELTS is the preferred language test for Australia.  

U.S., Canada, U.K., or Australia: You’re On your Way!

Ensure you have everything in place to be ready for when university starts. Ensure that your visa application is underway and that all necessary paperwork is in order. Contacting the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to head to for higher studies is the best way to find the most accurate information for a student visa application. Make sure you have sorted out a place to stay, finances and books. The student union at your university may also be able to help with the basic living and administrative questions that you may have, following an offer of admission to a university.

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