If you’re an overseas student who wants to apply to study in the United States, it can be a daunting experience. Where do you even start? Let’s take a look through some of the basic questions you’ll need to ask yourself to help your application.

Where do you want to be?

If you have a clear idea of where in the Unites States you want to study, this can help you to narrow down your choices. But what are you basing your choice on? Bear in mind that Hollywood films rarely depict an area accurately. And you also need to consider how expensive an area could be to live in (college fees also vary massively from one institution to the next).

If you have friends or family already in one area – or you know there is a big ex-pat community there – this could be a factor. You can expect a big culture shock when you move, and it can help to be close to people who understand your language and your customs.

What do you want to study?

Your field of study may also influence your choice as some colleges will excel at particular subjects more than others. Get online and research international student counseling tips. Contact universities and colleges in your own country for their advice too as many of their professors and lecturers may have studied abroad.

Your qualifications

It’s important to ensure that your qualifications will be accepted by the college or colleges of your choice. Generally, you will be expected to have achieved enough qualifications to enrol in higher education in your own country. You should be proficient in English, with a maths qualification, a science subject and one other subject. You may also have to sit an aptitude test.

Your academic records

You will be expected to submit your academic records, including degrees, and diploma certificates but these alone are not enough. You will also be asked to provide detailed records of your marks and coursework in the subjects you have studied, to give a longer-term view of your commitment and effort. Please note that if your records are not in English, you will need to have them translated and then submit both versions

Your visa

To gain a visa, you must apply to the US Embassy in your country. You will also need to convince a consular officer of two things:

  • That you intend to return to your country after your course has finished.

  • That you can pay for your education – or that you have secured means to have it paid for you (either by family funds or a grant)

You will also be asked to provide a biometric sample that will be attached to the visa you are issued with.

Start early

It can take between 12 and 18 months to complete an international study application. Make sure you have enough time to do all your research, contact the relevant institutions, complete the relevant paperwork and gather your records. If you want to begin your studies in the Autumn of 2016, you should start contacting colleges and universities in the Spring of 2015.