- Meet deadlines! Because international mail can move slowly, send documents at least three weeks before the deadline—or earlier if possible.
- Make sure your full name, address, and contact information are at the top of every page of your application (and your name should appear exactly the same on all parts of the application and test reports too).
- Keep copies of everything you submit, and encourage anyone who writes your recommendations to do the same.
- Pay the application fee in US dollars drawn from a US bank or use an international money order in US dollars. Some schools will also accept payment by credit card.
- Apply online if possible. Most schools tend to waive or reduce application fees if you complete it electronically.
- Remember that recommendations not written in English should also be accompanied by a certified English translation.
- Use the Common Application if you can (CommonApp.org). You can fill out only one application, which can be submitted to over 300 universities and colleges. Just be aware that some institutions may require supplemental materials.
And here are the top things you should not do:
- Don't mix and match different forms of applications. If you start electronically, complete the entire application electronically.
- Don't forget to check errors. (Check and double-check!)
- Don't exaggerate your academic record, your involvement in other activities, or other credentials.
- Don't send photocopies of awards. A list of awards is the best way to tell an admission office about your accomplishments.
- Don't ask people to write your recommendations unless they know you very well.
Find more expert advice and articles all about the US university admission process in our International Students section.