Skip to content

Our college application checklist tells you everything you need to get started

Are you ready to apply to a U.S. university or college? Gathering all of the information you need ahead of time can make your college application process easier. Before you start filling out applications, make sure you have everything you need with this international student college application checklist. 

1. Passport To prove your identity you may need to provide your passport number. Having an up to date passport is also essential after you are accepted. The university will need your passport information in order to issue you a Form I-20. Do not start your application until you have a valid passport.

2. School transcripts Colleges base their admissions decision on your high school or secondary school transcripts. These documents show how you performed and what classes you took in high school. Some colleges will allow you to send these documents directly, others will ask that you have them translated and certified by an official credential service. Be sure to send your transcripts as directed by the university.

3. English test scores Most universities in the United States will require you to take a test to evaluate your English language skills. Check if the school you’re applying to requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. You will need to include test scores with your application.

Read more about the differences between IELTS vs TOEFL.

4. SAT scores Many colleges require all students, international or domestic, to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the SAT. This test assesses your academic ability and readiness for university-level work. Have your test scores ready before you begin your application. Many colleges have a minimum threshold for test scores. If your SAT scores are below this minimum, you may want to retake the test or apply at a different school. Some schools waive the SAT requirement for international students. Check the application requirements before you apply.

5. Bank statements In order to apply for a visa, international students must prove they can pay for their education. Some colleges request bank statements during the application process to filter out students who cannot meet the financial obligation of studying in the United States. Have bank statements from you or your parents to prove you have the funds.

6. Letters of recommendation Many colleges require letters of recommendation from teachers or other school officials who are familiar with your academic performance. If these letters are not written in English, you may need to have them translated before you apply.

7. CV or Resume Some colleges ask for a CV or resume to help them learn a little more about your background and experience. This is a great place to mention volunteer experience, clubs and extracurricular activities from high school.

8. Money for application fees Most colleges charge an application fee. The average fee is about $43 USD, but it can be more or less depending on the school. Be prepared to pay at the time of application. But also know, that many international-friendly schools waive the application fee for international students, so do your research.

9. Personal Statement or Personal Essay Colleges may want you to write a personal statement or personal essay in English. This is another way the college can learn more about you, while also evaluating your writing skills.

Remember that every university has its own rules for applying. Our checklist for applying to college for international students will get you started, but it’s up to you to provide everything the school has requested. Check with the university or contact the international student office to get the details.

Check out more tips on applying to U.S. universities