Are you thinking of applying to study in the USA? If you’re in Class 11 right now and don’t want a gap year after 12, you’re in luck. The application process to some U.S. colleges takes 12-18 months, and if you start now, you’ll be just in time to apply for the Fall (August) 2012 semester!

Why does it take so long to apply to American colleges? In addition to having to carefully research and choose colleges, prepare for and take the standardized exams, you will need to meet each college’s application deadline. Some deadlines – especially for colleges that are competitive and colleges that offer good scholarships – are eight or nine months in advance of the start of class.

There are two semesters for which you can apply for admission: the Fallsemester (classes start in August or September) and the Springsemester (classes start in January). All colleges offer admission for Fall, as it is the beginning of the academic year. However, not all colleges offer admissions for Spring. If you are looking for a scholarship, it is better to apply for the Fall semester because generally, not many scholarships are available for the Spring semester. The application deadline date depends on the college of your choice and on the semester you are applying for.

For details on the application process to U.S. colleges, to determine whether the U.S. is an appropriate study destination for you, for standardized test information, for details on scholarships, and much more, please register to attend USEF’s Friday Group Advising session. These intensive and interactive two-hour sessions are free of cost and are usually held on Friday mornings.

USEF, the United States Educational Foundation in Nepal, is your official source of information and guidance on studying in the United States. Our EducationUSA Advising Center is supported by the U.S. Department of State and provides students in Nepal with accurate, reliable, unbiased, and free information and advice on U.S. higher education. We are located in Gyaneswor, Kathmandu and are open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you would like to study in the United States, stop by and visit us!

If you want to study in the United States, this checklist of the application process will help you plan your next few months.

1. Choose between 5 and 10 colleges to apply to.Use USEF’s library and Internet resources to help make your decisions. You must find colleges that are the best fit for you. As there are more than 4,000 colleges in the United States, you have a lot to choose from. Carefully research criteria such as your field of study, cost, scholarship opportunities, location, competitiveness, and requirements for admission. Applying to 5-10 well-chosen colleges will give you a higher chance of admission to one of them, than just applying to one or two. Certainly, you can choose to apply to more than 10 colleges if you like (we recommend at least 10 colleges if you are applying for scholarships), but do ensure you are sending quality applications to all!

2. Download the colleges’ application forms from their websites. It’s free and easy to download application forms.

3. Register for and take the standardized exams. All students must take at least the TOEFL (or IELTS: approximately 2,000 U.S. colleges also accept IELTS), which is a test that measures your English language skills.

USEF highly recommends that all undergraduate applicants also take the SAT Reasoning Test or ACT. Both exams measure your English and Math skills; ACT additionally measures your Science skills. USEF also highly recommends taking the SAT Subject Tests, which are subject-specific tests that demonstrate to a U.S. college that you have skills in a certain subject. Good scores on the SAT / ACT and SAT Subject Tests will be very important especially if you are applying to competitive colleges and for scholarships. Furthermore, for many American colleges, submission of a SAT/ ACT score is required in order to apply for admission. Therefore, it is in your best interest to take not only TOEFL (or IELTS), but also SAT / ACT and SAT Subject Tests.

To obtain information about standardized tests such as TOEFL, SAT, or ACT, collect a test bulletin from USEF or refer to the test’s official website ( for TOEFL, for SAT, for ACT). USEF recommends that you register at least two months before your preferred test date. Many students spend a lot of time preparing for these exams so make sure you allocate enough time for preparation.

4. Send your applications to the colleges. Colleges must receive your complete application with all requested components, including test scores, by the deadline date. Your deadline might be in December 2011 (this year) for admission in Fall 2012.

5. If you are accepted, you will receive an I-20 from the college. An I-20 document contains information about you, the college, and the amount you are expected to pay to the college each year. It is required to apply for a U.S. student visa.

6. Choose the best I-20 and apply for a student visa.
You will need to identify one I-20 to use when you apply for a student visa at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.

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