Applying to international universities may seem overwhelming at first glance. However attention to details and meticulous planning can ease your burden. Here are some vital requirements and important tips.

Applying abroad can be an arduous task. However, if you pay careful attention to the details of the entire process, you will have no problem in preparing an effective application. Below is a list of documents required by most overseas universities:

Application form – Most universities now prefer online applications. In fact, some universities do not accept paper forms and students have no choice but to go online and file the application form. Even if you file the application form online, you still have to send the supporting documents by regular mail. If you are applying to the US as an undergraduate, you can use a common application form, which can be sent to over 240 universities. Keep in mind that some universities will additionally require a supplement to the common application form. Undergraduate students applying to the UK can use the UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) and apply to six different courses by using just one form.

Application fee – Applying to colleges in the US is an expensive ordeal as most US universities require an application fee along with your application. Some private liberal art schools and Ivy League universities in the US waive application fees for undergraduate students. A fee waiver from your school or college counselor can help you save application fees to schools. It is best to check the individual university website for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the application fee.

Statement of Purpose (SOP) – Writing an essay can be demanding and stressful. It is your chance to tell the admission committee who you are. As the name suggests, the SOP is your personal statement about who you are, what has influenced your career path so far, your professional interests and your plans for the future. The SOP usually ranges from 500 to 750 words. Keep in mind that the Statement of Purpose is your chance to talk directly to the admission committee. If you want to stand out from other applicants, you can use the SOP to convince the admission committee that you have interests and experiences that are different from other applicants. Remember that a good Statement of Purpose will increase your chances of getting admission and sometimes may even compensate for your weak areas. A ‘not-so-good’ SOP will certainly be used against you and most likely will get your application rejected.

Resume – Even though most universities do not require resumes, it is a good idea to send the resume along with application. A resume outlines all your achievements, activities, skills etc. Please remember that a resume is not a curriculum vitae, but is a one-page document highlighting your strengths.

Recommendation letters – Recommendation letters can be obtained from school/college teachers. Try to get recommendation letters from people who know you well and who have had ample opportunity to interact with you. Avoid letters of recommendation from people in high positions who have not taught you. For instance a letter from the principal of your school/college who has not taught you has less importance than a letter from a teacher who has taught you for two years. If the university has its own recommendation letter format, use it in addition to a general letter of recommendation.

Financial Aid form – Undergraduate students applying to private colleges in the US can apply for financial aid and must fill in a separate financial aid form. Make sure that you carefully state the amount that you can pay for your education based on your family income, assets and savings.

Bank letter and Affidavit of Financial Support – Universities in the US require international students to prove that they have enough funding available to cover their educational costs. Universities in the UK may not need a bank letter along with your application. The bank letter should state that your sponsor has sufficient funds in his or her account. Letters stating “solvent to the tune of” and “capable of paying” are usually not accepted by universities. Financial affidavits can be made on letterheads instead of government stamp papers and should be attested by a Special Executive Officer (SEO).

Transcripts and Mark sheets – Make sure that you send official sealed copies of your mark sheets and transcripts to the universities you are applying to. If you have graduated, you must also send your degree to the universities.
Once you have all your documents ready, make sure that you have checked the application deadline of the schools you are applying to. If your university requires standardized test scores, you must use an Additional Score Request form (ASR) and request ETS (Educational Testing Service) to send your official test scores directly to your universities. Many universities require the official standardized test scores to be in your file by the application deadline date, so make sure that you do not delay your official score reporting.

When your application is ready add a cover letter and send your application to the address stated on the application. Make sure that everything in your application is well explained and keep a copy of your application for your records. Remember, your college application should convey who you are and what things are important to you. Make each university application with great care and stick to university rules.