The United States has been a popular study destination for Indian students because of the wide range of its tuition and living costs, varied programmes and flexibility to change fields of study and schools.
As per estimates, about 96,754 students from India, which is around 12% of all international students, studied on American campuses in 2012-13. If you want to study there, you must remember that the US has a distinct application process that must be followed systematically to secure admission to a college and programme.
As a first step, you must research your options to find out what’s best for you. After zeroing in on your choice, make sure you complete your application carefully. The next steps include selecting the source for financing your studies, applying for student visa and, finally, preparing for departure.
“The actual formal process begins by taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the ACT ideally by December or the following January of your junior year. You must start shortlisting schools during the second half of your junior year. If you need to retake the SAT or ACT, you should do it by November of your senior year or even December, but that would be pushing it. You will also need to have taken SAT subject tests, AP tests, and TOEFL, depending on the schools you are applying to,” says Nina Merchant, a Mumbai-based academic counsellor.
The next step is to start applying in August/September of your senior year. By then you would know your deadlines for regular admission, rolling admission, early action, and early decision, as applicable. The basic elements of many college applications are the actual application form, essays, exam scores, letters of recommendation, and financial aid application.
Several aspirants fail to get into the college or get a course of their choice at the right time because of lack of planning. “We have seen many students who start their planning very late for going to the US for further studies when they should have done it 12 to 18 months in advance. They must also take care while filling up the forms and other documents as the colleges in the US are very particular about assessing a candidate before selection,” says Renuka Raja Rao, country coordinator, EducationUSA Advising Services, United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF).
Applying for the student visa through your nearest US Embassy or Consulate, by paying the ‘Student and Exchange Visitor Information System’ fee, is the next step.