Non-U.S. College Application & Admissions Checklist (for International Students)

— Disclaimer: This checklist is focused on the non-US admissions process. If you are considering applying to colleges in the US, please check out the U.S. College Application Timeline for International Students.

A note from the authors: The content of this article won’t help every applicant, as we understand that every situation is sensitive and unique, and education is continuously changing. However, we want to be transparent that our goal is to give you context, steps, and tools for further research so you can be empowered in your next decisions

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Being open to studying in countries all over the world is awesome. So many programs, cultures, and experiences at our fingertips! Tons of places where you can get a great education for a low cost! The challenge comes when you suddenly need to keep all the deadlines straight for writing your applications to those awesome locations.

Some countries have application procedures with centralized systems and deadlines (US, UK, Netherlands… somewhat). But the more countries you add to your college list, the more timelines you will be juggling. And juggling multiple timelines is challenging.

The application checklist below will help you think through the coming few years when it comes to applying for non-U.S. colleges and universities.

Step One: Investigate Your Options 

This article is primarily focused on organizing your deadlines while applying to multiple countries. But how do you decide which countries to add to your list? To investigate the myriad opportunities for pursuing higher education abroad, we recommend:

Step Two: Know Your Deadlines

As you narrow in on the countries you hope to apply to for university, you will quickly realize that basically every country has a unique admissions process. Sometimes there are even multiple unique processes within a country… even as many as one unique process for each university!

As we said earlier, every situation is unique and higher education is continuously changing. To get you started, the bullets below will give you a sense of what time of year you will need to be focusing on applications to some of the major higher education destinations around the world.

The list below does not capture every country – and simply listing may not suit everyone’s organizational style. We encourage you to build calendars that help you stay organized.

  • (Starting OCT 15, through NOVEMBER) Complete and send out all applications to programs with early/priority deadlines such as the UK (Oxford, Cambridge, Medicine, Conservatories), Norway, and some programs in Canada, Hong Kong, and India. 

  • (Due JANUARY) Deadlines for the UK, Canada, numerus fixus programs in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Sweden, and some programs in India are coming up in early January. Complete and get these applications ready to submit by mid-December (before you go on break). Give yourself a relaxing holiday.

  • (JANUARY through MARCH) Submit applications to remaining programs in the Netherlands, as well as countries like Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. 

  • (MARCH and APRIL) Participate in interviews and admissions tests as requested/initiated by the college. 

  • Continue to apply to programs in France, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, and Spain.  

  • (Late FEBRUARY through late JUNE) Add extra choices in UCAS if available 

  • (JUNE) Make firm and conditional choices in UCAS once all offers are received

  • (MAY) Prepare your applications to Australia and New Zealand while you are still at school and have the support of your teachers/counselors/administrators.

  • (JUNE and JULY) Submit applications to Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Poland, and Germany. 

  •  (JULY) Engage with UCAS Clearing if you need other offers in the UK.

Step Three: Make a Personal Checklist

Using the chart/list above as a starting point, and then finding reliable sources for country-specific research, you should be able to find the date when applications are due for each country/school on your list. But even within a single university, you may encounter multiple deadlines depending on what application components are required in their admissions process.

No matter which countries or schools are on your list, here are some things you should keep in mind for all non-U.S. applications:

  • If any of the schools on your in-progress list require testing, take time to read about the tests and set aside the time to do mock exams or practice sets for each (English proficiency, UK Admissions tests, SATs). Register for admissions tests as required. 

  • Keep track of required essays for your schools. Learn how to write essays for different countries/systems using resources like this article on the UCAS Personal Statement, or reading about motivation letters on university admissions websites.   

  • Let your school administration and teachers know about your plans to apply—this will be your team. Be prepared to help them understand letters of recommendation and any school forms required by universities. It is your job to remind your school team to upload/send letters and transcripts to colleges.  

Need a handy place to keep track of everything? Here is a chart you can use to keep track of deadlines for different application components at universities around the world:

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