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International Student Planning calendar


18 months before beginning your studies in the US:

  •     Begin your search of possible US colleges or universities that you would like to attend. Read through college reference guides and visit college websites. Also talk with your relatives and friends who have studied in the US. Request information from 10 to 20 different schools so that you can make a good decision on where to apply.


  •      Register and start preparing for the TOEFL and other entrance tests (such as the SAT or GRE).


  •      Continue to work hard at your subjects at school. Good grades in the courses you are taking now will count heavily in the admissions decisions.


15 months before:

Take the TOEFL and other entrance tests. Most universities require you to take the test before December, so taking it now gives you an opportunity to take it again in November and improve your score.

12 months before:

  •      Send letters to colleges you have selected requesting applications and information, or obtain this information and necessary forms from their websites.
  • You should choose: (a) one or two schools that you really like, but may be too difficult to get into; (b) two or three that you also like and which you think will accept you; (c) one or two which may not be your favorites, but you are quite sure will accept you.


  • Identify two or three teachers or other people whom know you well and ask them to write recommendation letters for you.

  • If your previous TOEFL, SAT, or GRE scores were not satisfactory, register for the test again.

11 months before:

    • If you have not yet received the application forms you requested from the schools you wrote to, send another letter repeating your request.
    • Study the applications you have received. Note carefully the deadlines on each of them. Remember to allow time for delays in the mail.

    • Ask your teachers to write their letters of recommendation for you. Give them the forms provided by the schools and a stamped, addressed envelope for each letter they will be mailing.

    • Graduate students should write their statement of purpose if the schools have indicated that they require one. This is an important part of the application. You should show in your statement how your education so far has created a foundation for your goals, and how your proposed coursework in the US will help you achieve those goals. You should be as specific as possible about your research interests and past accomplishments.

    • Make photocopies of the applications and begin to fill in the required information on the copies. You will later transfer the information to the originals. If any questions confuse you, seek help from your teachers, or from someone who has studied in the US.


10 months before:

Complete application forms, including the financial aid application forms, using the originals (not the copies). Type or write by hand very neatly and carefully. The finished applications will be your introduction to the schools, so you want to make them look good. Keep a copy of the completed applications for your records. Mail the originals by airmail in time to meet the deadlines.

Take the TOEFL and other exams again, if you need to improve your scores.

9 months before:

It is not unusual for schools to request more information or resubmission of something you have already sent. Respond promptly to any requests you receive.

4-5 months before:

·      You will start hearing decisions from the schools. Contact the admissions office at any school that you do not hear from.
·      Accept only one school's offer, and let the other schools know of your decision. Ask the school you have chosen to attend to send you the I-20 form.
·      Make housing arrangements.
·       Apply for a passport if you do not already have one.


3 months before:

  • Get a visa application form from the US embassy or consulate nearest you.
  • Make travel arrangements. Schedule your trip so you arrive at least 15 days prior to your school’s orientation.