5 Steps to Decoding University Applications

Are you an ambitious student hoping to apply to universities and colleges in the UK and USA? We’re here to help you decode the application process.

Written by

Sigrid Kenmuir

Whether you’re 15, 18 or 25, applying to university can be daunting. Figuring out where to apply, what to apply for, how to actually do the application – it can be a lot.

We’re here to help. 

Thanks to our history of working with college students from all over the world, we have a wide and deep alumni network to help us (and you!) stay on top of the world of applications.

1. Work out which faculties you want to apply for.

Once you’re in, you can finesse exactly what you plan to study, but switching faculties can be harder (and more expensive, or take more time) than simply switching majors within a faculty. 

Which faculty you want to apply to – Commerce, Humanities, Engineering – will guide which subjects to take in high school and which to focus on to get good grades.

2. Decide on a region.

Sure, you could apply to universities across the globe – we fully believe that the world is open to you – but there may be practical limits. For example, some universities and colleges charge an application fee, making applying to many a costly business. Some countries make it easy to get study visas, others are harder depending on the passport you hold. Deciding on a region – the USA, Australia, the UK – will also help to narrow down the options available to you, making the process more manageable.

3. Make sure you know your deadlines.

Different regions have different application deadlines, and they can vary slightly per institution, too. Make sure you know both the early and standard deadlines, so you get your application in with plenty of time. These applications aren’t as simple as just filling in a form – they involve letters from teachers, essays, compiling certificates, and more. Make sure you give yourself enough time to tackle each one properly.

4. Familiarise yourself with financial aid options.

Let’s face it, studying abroad can be expensive! International student fees are often higher, and then there’s the cost of books, residences or dorms. It’s worth finding out what finance options are available to you, both full and part scholarships, assisted payments, delayed payments, and so on.

5. Spread your risk.

When choosing your universities, split your applications up into “dream”, “reasonable”, and “safe” options. That is, institutions you think you have a low likelihood of acceptance but would love to get in, ones you think it’s quite possible you’ll be accepted, and places you’re fairly sure you’ll get in.

We know that the process can be daunting, so we made you this handy cheat sheet to compare applying to universities in the UK and colleges in the USA. Are you applying to college and university? What are you struggling most with? Hit the chat button and ask away. We're always here to help.

Keen to explore more careers and get clarity on what you should apply for in college? Take a look at our upcoming courses, exclusive to GEMS Education schools.

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