The application process for university admission differs from country to country and there is no perfect formula for obtaining admission to your desired university. However, there are some general rules that you should follow and tips that can help you gain admission.
1. Choose your program
Decide on where you want to study abroad and in which level and area of study you’re interested and have the academic background to qualify. Consider your career prospects and then decide on a specialization. Choose a program that is aligned with your goals and try to choose a university that is highly ranked, has a great reputation for your desired subject, or meets other criteria that are important to you.
2. Read the requirements and deadlines carefully
The first step for applying to a school abroad is checking the requirements. If the information on the website is confusing to you or is insufficient, request more information from the schools. If you are unsure if your nationality is accepted for student visas in the country, you can also try visiting official government websites and study councils. It is important to pay attention to the deadlines to make sure that you don’t miss the admission or entrance exam deadlines.
3. Write a motivation letter
Applying for certain fields of study or schools requires a motivation letter. The motivation letter or cover letter should show your ability to perform well at the institution, and should include an evaluation of your skills, as well as your accomplishments. So express your interest in studying at the university in a clean and structured motivation letter, and remember to use clear English when writing the letter.
4. Ask for a recommendation letter
University or program admission sometimes require one or several recommendation letters from a teacher. Don’t be shy to ask for the recommendation letter from your teachers that you had a good relationship with. Remember that recommendation letters take time for instructors to write and they may be asked for letters from multiple students. Ask them as early as possible to ensure that they have the time to write a detailed and compelling recommendation.
5. Get prepared for the TOEFL or IELTS test
If your first language is not English and you’d like to study abroad, you will probably need to take an English language test. When planning your study abroad timeline and booking your test, take the preparation time for the test into account. Depending on your English language proficiency and your ability to use the English language, as well as the score that the university requires, you’ll need time to study and get prepared for the test.
Additionally, don’t forget to book the test at least one month in advance because each test center offers tests a maximum of four times a month depending on local demand. If you apply late, it might be full.
6. Translate and authenticate your documents
If you’re applying to study a program taught in English abroad, you will need to translate your documents (including your diploma and grades) to English. Be aware that the translations should be authenticated by a competent authority. If you aren’t sure what authorities are accepted by your prospective university, check their website or inquire about it with an admissions official.
7. Use the online application platforms
Nowadays more schools tend to use an online application platform to make it easier for students to apply for the programs. Sending the documents electronically instead of by post is preferred by most schools and students as it is faster and usually less expensive or free.
8. Register for the entrance exam
Some countries like India and certain schools, such as medical schools, have entrance exams that test your knowledge of natural science and skills relating to subjects like language or mathematics. Check the date and place of the exam as the test usually takes place one or two months before the school’s opening day. You’ll need to register for the test in advance and if required, make a plan for your travel abroad. Also make sure that you know what to expect on test day. If possible, prepare by taking a look at a sample test.
9. Be confident for the interview
The last stage of the application process might be an admission interview. Some schools like the University of Oxford and certain elite programs conduct interviews to find which candidates are more qualified to get into the school. The interview usually starts with why you want to study in this school or program, your background and plans for the future. Practice for the interview, be confident and don’t let the formal setting stress you out. Remain calm and don’t speak too quickly or slowly.
10. Schedule your visa appointment
To be eligible for a student visa, your school and program should be accredited by the government of the country they are located. In most cases, after you receive a letter of acceptance and get admitted at the school, it's time to apply for the student visa. Depending on the country’s regulations and number of applicants, applying for the student visa can be a long and complicated process. Therefore, it’s better to apply for your student visa and schedule your appointment or interview as soon as possible. The documents you’ll need for the student visa application are usually a bank statement, the application form, the receipt of payment for your application and university tuition fee, your passport, medical and background information.
11. Plan for the costs
You’ll need to consider that applying to schools abroad will have costs relating to the school's entrance exam, translating documents, booking the English language test, tuition fees, and visa application fees. Don’t let this discourage you as many students study internationally on a budget, but do make a plan for your likely costs so that you can budget appropriately.