Complete Application Process for Universities Abroad

Complete Application Process for Universities Abroad

12 mins read9.2K Views Comment
Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Nov 4, 2022 09:21 IST

Before understanding the application process to universities abroad, you need to know what the steps for applying abroad are. The university application process abroad follows work of many stages being carried out together, at the same time. Here is the guide to explain it all to you.

University Application Process

Going to university abroad is a great way for students to experience another culture, meet new people, and get a great education. When you are deciding to apply to universities abroad, you need to understand the application process. India has a vast number of universities, colleges, and institutions. However, the application process is quite linear in nature. Prospective students need to apply to one institution at a time and then wait for the result before proceeding to another institution if the first one rejects the application. The process requires filling out forms several times before finally reaching the educational institution's admission team for an interview. The university application process abroad is not so simple and follows work of many stages being carried out together, at the same time. Following are the multiple stages of application abroad:

  1. Selecting country - For international students from a particular region, certain nations have unique regulations. The application process will go more smoothly if you are an EU citizen and apply to universities in EU countries. For undergraduate programmes, the majority of UK institutions exclusively accept UCAS applications; for postgraduate degrees, they also accept direct applications or UK PASS. You must go through the pre-application procedure in nations like Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, which involves confirming the eligibility requirements beforehand.
  2. Selecting universities and/or course -

    Choosing the right university and course can be a difficult decision. 

    There are many universities around the world that offer excellent postgraduate programmes in English and provide support with visas, accommodation and living costs.

  3. Appearing for the required tests - To meet the requirements, you must take the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, SAT, ACT, etc. examinations. To be taken seriously as a candidate, you should take these tests and perform well on them.
  4. Arranging recommendation letters - Whether through a unified portal or directly to the university portal, applications should be submitted in the timescale specified by the universities. To speed up the processing of your application, materials like LOR should be prepared and made accessible as requested by the institution. Read: Bonafide Certificate: Meaning, Format, Application Letter
  5. Preparing Essays and Statement of Purpose - When applying to study abroad, a letter of motivation or statement of purpose is a crucial component of the application. Make sure to edit and proofread these documents for mistakes. It should be formatted correctly or in accordance with the university's criteria; don't inflate your experience or accomplishments, and be truthful in your justifications.
  6. Collecting all the required transcripts -

    The process of applying for admission to foreign universities is often tedious, time-consuming and expensive. It requiring the student to provide transcripts from all previous schools attended.

  7. Filling out the application forms -

    The application form is one of the most important first steps in the process of studying abroad. You have to fill it out correctly to make sure that our application is accepted. You also have to be aware of the deadlines for every step in this process. You should not wait until the last minute because then you might not have enough time to correct any mistakes or answer any questions.

  8. Reporting various test scores to the universities -

    The counselor will take a look at the student’s transcripts and test scores and then report it to the university of choice for evaluation. This way, the university can assess if the student is qualified for admission or not.

  9. Accepting admission offer -

    Studying abroad is an investment in yourself and future. You will gain valuable skills that will help you for the rest of your life, as well as make lifelong friends from all over the world. You may also find that studying abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences that you have ever had.

  10. Paying the required admission fee - The last step is to pay the admission fee so that your admissions gets confirmed.

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This stage is the most time consuming and crucial stage. From the admission point of view, it requires a lot of research and active involvement in the shortlisting process. Since applying to foreign universities is an expensive matter for most Indian applicants, the choice of universities is usually restricted to six or eight universities which fulfill your requirements and fit your profile.

To help you with the university shortlisting, here are a few pages to help you with the process

The concept of the best university: the perfect match for you may not be the famous university, but that one which offers you a suitable course in your field of study and the tuition fee there fits within your budget. The process of shortlisting the best university is again not a single step but involves multiple stages. Below are the stages involved –

  • Self-evaluation stage – the applicant shortlists universities on the basis of criteria like location, city, ranking, tuition fee etc.
  • College fit - on this stage the applicant checks whether he is a fit candidate for the university or not. The criteria in question are academic eligibility, academic record (GPA), standardized test scores, financial aid considerations, and other issues.
  • Application stage – after receiving application forms and prospectus, the applicant finally makes a final list of colleges to apply to.

Scholarships: Since all international students are interested in getting a scholarship to fund their studies through scholarships, you should start looking for scholarships at the research stage itself. The various sources of scholarships are described below:

  1. College-funded – Many colleges offer financial aid to students on the basis of merit. You may have to apply separately for them or your application will be considered for financial aid automatically on submission. It is recommended to get in touch with the university student cell or admissions’ department to get the details and complete information.
  2. Private-funded – There are many scholarships offered by private organizations/funds, which may cover your course, for a particular country. You may need to appear for an exam in order to get the scholarship, where the most deserving candidate will be selected among a pool of meritorious students. One such example is the Reliance Stanford Scholarships. 

You could be required to apply for scholarships before applying to university or even after submitting your applications. It is advised to research thoroughly on each scholarship and plan beforehand, so you can properly divide your attention between the admission and scholarship processes.

For the purpose of having all the information about the admission process in one place, all universities offer admission brochures. It contains all the information a student might require about a course.  Since this is the first step of your application process, you can request for or download the brochures of selected 20 to 25 universities.

There are many ways to get application forms:

  1. Requesting application forms –Most university websites have the provision of requesting a brochure via e-mail by filling up a form available online.
  2. Downloading from website – to view the brochure in PDF format, many universities have a downloadable file of their brochures available on their website.
  3. Standardized forms/portal – for a few countries or universities, you need to apply through a common admission form like UCAS for undergraduate courses in UK. In that case you can’t apply to individual universities, but will have to fill in the online standardized application form and send it to universities of your choice.

Note: These brochures don’t usually contain an application form anymore as most of the universities accept online applications. In case the University of your Choice still accepts paper application, check with them in case you need to submit the form enclosed alongside the brochure.

You need to go through the information provided by the website thoroughly. Keep a tab on application eligibility, score requirements, admission deadlines, the transcripts needed etc. Organize all the information on the requirement and see where you stand. You need to assess yourself from the eligibility perspective and see whether you match up to the expected levels or not.

Now you can differentiate between schools that match up to your profile and those which don’t. The final list of colleges your profile matches will be somewhere around 10 in numbers. After figuring out the eligibility checklist, you need to consider the remaining colleges on this basis.

  • Kinds of courses offered and teaching methodology
  • Admission criteria
  • Availability of scholarships/financial aid
  • Research facilities
  • Class profile
  • Affordability of tuition fee and cost of living

Your final list of universities will be somewhere around 5-6 colleges. Once you have this final list, you need to start registering on the university’s website and create an admission account. You need to upload information like personal details, academic record & official transcripts, essays, statements of personal achievements & extracurricular activities, along with recommendation letters.

Recommendation Letter or LOR is an important part of an admission process. LOR is a document written by professors or managers who know you well. They must have managed you on a job or taught you a subject that is related to the course you are applying to. The author must write about his position, how long they has known the applicant. Now usually the universities usually provide a format for the LOR, so the author only needs to rank the applicant according to the criteria asked. You need to let the writer know beforehand what kind of questions to expect so there are no surprises in the end.

Your academic degrees and mark sheets are called academic transcripts. Your scores will be converted to credits or GPA depending on the education system of the destination country. Following are the documents you need to scan and submit to the universities:

  • All the academic mark sheets/diplomas
  • Secondary school and college reports written by principal or counsellor
  • Character report

Note: If the transcripts are not in English, then they must be translated into English only by the issuing authority or university otherwise they may not be acceptable.

The personal Essays and Statement of Purpose (SOP) help the admission officers evaluate your application for admission and financial aid purposes. It provides the people assessing your application an impression of you as an individual. In the SOP, the student must define his/her academic goals along with the reasons to choose that particular university and course and the benefits the applicant is looking to enjoy.

Once you have prepared all your applications documents, you should make one docket for it. Collect all your application documents in one folder. This ensures that you do not miss out on any document at the last moment of applying. Depending on university to university, you would need to submit the documents well in advance of the deadline and through the channel which that university prefers. Basically, there are three types of submission channel:

  • Online Submission: Majority of foreign universities prefer online submission for all application related documents. In this channel, you just need to attach the required document in the space provided. Keep in mind the format of the document as asked by the university as they prefer and support certain types of file format only for instance, .doc, .pdf, etc. All your documents (CV, SOP, LOR, Essays, Consolidated Marksheet, etc) should be in this file format only.
  • E-mail Submission: A few universities allow the option of submitting your documents and application form through e-mail. For this channel as well, you need to make sure that all the drafts are in the correct file format as preferred by the university. After drafting a mail, as per their requirements, you will attach all the documents in a sequence. For instance, if you are attaching the LORs, then attach them in a proper manner: LOR1, LOR2, then LOR3. You might be required to combine all the documents in a zip file. So it is always advisable to double-check the requirements stated by the university.
  • By Post Submission: Send hard copies can be a hassle and as it is a time-taking process, it is best if you send the document 15 days before the deadline. All hard copies must be duly signed and stamped before sending. Also, do a thorough research on all the international courier services available and their prices to get the best deal. By opting for Shiksha's DHL Student Offer, you can avail upto 40% discounts.

Universities have deadlines for informing the students of their admission decisions as well. If you receive acceptance letters from more than one university, then you will have to make a decision on which one you want to attend.

Here are a few objectives and subjectives criteria you should consider while making the final decision –

  • Length of program, choice of courses
  • Financial aids offered
  • Cost of living
  • Prestige of related departments/program
  • Reputation of university
  • Location of the campus and safety
  • Climate and weather changes
  • Social life, off-campus activities
  • Accommodation and housing options

It is essential to do a lot of research on the universities and their offerings. You will have to find out which of these are likely to meet your goals by spending time online, researching more on that. By making a final checklist of the

You must respond quickly to university with a Yes or No for each offer of admission. In most cases you will be required to submit a financial deposit for the first semester/year to the institution that you plan to attend. This is to guarantee your acceptance. You need to make sure you do not miss any deadlines at this stage. Each college will let you know what steps to follow to confirm your place for admission. This information will be included with the letter of acceptance or in materials/e-mails that will be sent shortly after.

Waiting List: If you are in the waiting list, you will receive a letter that informs you that you are on a ‘waiting list’. This means that although you were qualified for admission but there was not enough seats available for qualified applicants. Again, you will be asked whether you are interested or not. If you say Yes and accept to be on the waitlist, you may be offered admission if space becomes available later, in case someone cancels their admission.

About the Author
Written by
Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert

Srishti has spent six years in the Education industry helping study abroad aspirants draft their application documents for their dream universities. Experienced in creating impressive SOP, LOR, and Essays, she knows... Read Full Bio