Tips & Strategies to make the perfect Study Abroad Application8 min read

Getting your study abroad application in place is always a daunting task. From consulting your friends who have already been through the process to searching online sources for the application, processing your applications can be complicated. 

To enhance your study abroad applications and to make your application more appealing to their desired places of study, it is important to gain clarity on some fundamental questions:

  • Why do you want to study abroad?
  • What topic/subject/specialization are you passionate about? 
  • What are your financial implications? 

It is equally important to identify your area of interest in terms of a favorite subject focus or a dream career/job. This helps streamline the entire application process and helps you make informed decisions.

But figuring out all this can get a bit overwhelming. In this article, we have simplified the different timelines for your study abroad application, along with a checklist of important documents required.

Apply Early

The most important aspect of getting started with your study abroad application is to overlook the timing of applying to universities. One question that you can often encounter: Will applying early have an impact on the selection or rejection of the application? You should know when or how to plan the study abroad application process.

Early Action: The aspirant applies early to the selected college

Early Decision: The application in the early decision is binding.

Aspirants are advised to opt for early action as it gives them the time to hear back from the college, giving them the time to make the decision of whether to join the college or not. On the contrary, in an early decision, the aspirants have already identified the college as their ultimate choice.

Study Abroad Application Process: A Step-by-Step Approach

Listing Out Top Universities (based on preference)

The first important step to getting started on your study abroad journey is identifying the top universities basis your academic specializations. You have to invest enough time to decide upon your interest. To choose the right program or specialization, it is important to take into account multiple factors such as area of interest, academic background, course duration, internship as well as job opportunities, and cost.

Once you have finalized the program, the next big step involves working on curating an exhaustive list of universities that offer the program of your choice. Shortlisting a university is a critical stage in your study abroad journey. When selecting the university, you must also assess the reputation of the listed universities for the desired program, the tuition fee structure, and the eligibility criteria for admissions. Here is a quick guide to shortlisting universities!

  • Course/ Stream of your preference and interest
  • On-Campus Placements as well as career opportunities
  • Tuition Fees and Living Expenses
  • Financial aid for international students
  • The acceptance rate of International students

Identifying University Deadlines

When planning your study abroad application, it is important to be mindful of the deadline as well as the timeline for your choice of course. Timelines and lengths of the semesters vary for every geography. Remember the significant dates for your application in each major study destination. Different countries follow different timelines for their academic year. 

Application Deadline for Study Abroad Academic Year

CountryDeadline
USANovember 1-15 (early action) & January 1-15 (regular decision)
UKApril – June
CanadaDecember – March
AustraliaFebruary or Early March / Late May or Early June

Rounds Involved in the Application Process 

There are a handful of rounds that you must get acquainted with. They vary in stages from early action. Timing is considered the most critical element here as it majorly defines the acceptance parameter

Early Action

Early action is considered the best choice of admission round if you have made up your mind about the college you want to enroll in.

Round Admissions

The underlying difference lies in the time universities take to respond. They are typically three or four rounds that denote the time span during which a university accepts the applications -during fall, winter, or spring. 

 Round 1(Aug-Oct): Round 1 of study abroad applications is the primary and the most crucial round, as all seats are open for applicants, which also implies a lot of competition.

Round 2 (Oct-Jan): Round 2 often takes place at the time of fall. For this round, campus visits can be easily managed. It offers a worthwhile time for preparation, essay drafting, and other documentation.

Round 3 (Feb-Apr): It is often the last round of applications accepted by colleges. There are no such significant advantages of applying in the third or fourth round as the majority of the seats gets filled by candidates who apply in the first and second round.

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Getting all the Expenses in Place

Getting your finances into place is the first and most important step. This can include the cost of education (tuition fees), accommodation, travel, and other expenses. Studying abroad is quite expensive, so it is important to have the answer to these. If you are searching for some help with your finances, it is always advisable to apply for financial aid. You can get in touch with the institution’s financial aid counselor to review your application. Many universities offer scholarships to aid their new students in getting started. Information about their scholarship programs, financial aid, as well as other funding options is available on their websites. Merit-based scholarships in institutions help cover a large portion of the tuition cost. 

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Different financial institutions offer terms for offering loans. However, before choosing the loan provider, it is advisable to check whether there is a requirement for collateral for the amount or not. Collateral loans are secured by an asset, presented as security. On the contrary, non-collateral loans are sanctioned based on the borrower’s credit score and can often require a co-signer. If applying for loan waivers/scholarships/fellowships/financial aid, you are required to submit the tax returns for the previous two to three years. It is important to cite that students who are debt free and do not have any prior loans have a much higher chance of securing aid. 

Suggested: Study Abroad Consultant

Preparing All The Documents

Different universities have specific application requirements. Hence it is important to have an in-depth study of the university website and prepare a checklist for each university.

Academic Transcripts

Transcripts are the record of the subjects/specializations you have studied. It is important to check the university websites to understand the application instructions. The transcripts and mark sheets should be scanned and ready to be uploaded in the specified resolution. 

Resume

In addition to the plethora of documents that are to be prepared for the study abroad applicant, one of the mandatory documents is your Resume/CV. While working on creating a CV for your academic endeavors, it is important to mention all the relevant academic credentials and other activities undertaken which are a proper fit for the said field of study.

Letter of Recommendation (LOR) 

A letter of recommendation or a letter of reference is one of the significant documents required when preparing your study abroad application. The LOR can be from a professor, mentor, supervisor, or manager. This letter enables the university admission committee to know as well as understand more about the applicant.

Proof of Finance

Universities mandate proof to understand whether you can afford the fees. The application requires documents related to educational loans, scholarships, etc., to fund your education along with other living expenses. The students are also advised to present family income or income tax returns. 

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

To get admission to your preferred university in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, preparing an assertive SOP is a must. This is a very influential document as, through this, the college authority gets to know about the student and their overall profile. A good SOP encloses course-related achievements and experiences, objectives, interest in extracurricular activities, and cultural lineage.

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Checking Visa Requirements 

Irrespective of the duration of the program, some countries classify student visa basis the type of student. This takes into consideration the level of degree applied, like undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral. These visas also depend on the type of program the applicant is applying for.

Depending on immigration laws, every country mandates a specific list of documents. While the exact requirements are different, the list is generic. Two documents that are certainly required include – a Valid Passport and Proof of a Bonafide Student.

Make sure to start your visa processing work in advance to avoid any delay. You should also look for country-specific visa requirements. An SOP is also a critical component for Visa approval. 

Working with an Educational Consultant

Early in the application process, it is advisable to work in coordination with an Education Counselor. Discuss the academic requirements as well as any concerns to gain professional guidance. They will guide you at every step of the selection process- from reviewing the application deadline to program details, tuition fees, documentation, and other requirements.

Once you have all the elements in place, it is time to get started with your application process. Start early as the process takes time. We hope these guidelines will assist you in planning your study abroad application. Double-check all the components at every step. 

Dhruvin Jain

Dhruvin Jain

Dhruvin Jain is the co-founder of MastersBuddy, a tech-first platform that has helped over 2500 students find and apply to top master’s programs globally. He is a master’s graduate from IE Business School, and is passionate about education, technology, and entrepreneurship.

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