10 steps to study college in the United States

College is a time to learn about ourselves and the world around us, and to determine the kind of person we want to be. During college, you will not only acquire the education and skills necessary to develop a professional career, but you will also become a well-rounded and well-educated person.

If you go to a university in the United States, you will benefit from a very complete (and very rigorous) educational system, and you will also have the opportunity to get to know and experience a part of the world that may be very different from your usual environment.

The process of applying to a U.S. university is fairly straightforward, but sometimes it can be a little tricky to know where to start and what to focus on. We've put together a ten-step guide to help you get into one of the best colleges in the U.S. Good luck!

1. Think about your dream school

There are plenty of good colleges in the U.S., including the prestigious Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Princeton and Yale universities, so it won't be difficult to find one that fits your goals and your preferences in terms of location and type of study.

Some offer that college experience you're so drawn to when you see it in the movies - prestigious universities with huge campuses, such as Harvard and Princeton - others offer a smaller, closer-knit community atmosphere, such as Amherst College in Massachusetts.

2. Do your homework (and secure your options)

All prospective college students have their dream college in mind, but as they say, it's up to you to make your dreams come true! Now is the time to start doing your research. You've probably already thought of a few colleges that fit your personal and career goals, now it's time to see which ones are really the right fit.

Remember, you may not get into your first choice or another one you've considered may not offer what you initially thought. So make sure you have a few options in mind.

3. Find a mentor

Once you've narrowed down the number of colleges you'd like to study at, find someone who has experience with the admissions process at U.S. universities. Find some time to meet and talk with this person. Someone who has attended the college you are interested in or someone who is knowledgeable and successful in your chosen field might be helpful.

4. Work on your extracurricular activities

While studying and getting good grades is very important, a key part of the American college experience is the things you do outside of class. Schools are looking for students who are passionate, curious, forward-thinking and even altruistic.

Extracurricular activities will allow you to demonstrate that you are the type of well-rounded individual that colleges demand. Whether it's a sport you're passionate about, a musical instrument you've mastered, or weekends spent volunteering in your community, it's crucial that you highlight your interests outside of the classroom on your application.

5. Study the requirements

You already have a list of colleges you're interested in and you've got an idea of the importance of extracurricular activities. Perfect! The next thing you need to do is contact each school's admissions office and learn more about their admissions process and what they will ask of you.

U.S. colleges and universities regulate their own admissions requirements. Some may require a specific essay or exam and others may have more formal interview processes in place.

6. Gather documentation

In addition to the admissions tests, the admissions office at your chosen college will ask you for some important documents. They will want to review your high school transcripts. You will have to ask your high school to send your grades to the college you are applying to. They also look at your high school standardized test scores in your country. You can read more about other requirements here.

7. Brush up on your English (and take the right test).

In order to study at a U.S. university, you must have a certain level of English. This will ensure that you get the most out of your studies and help you follow the curriculum. Not sure what your level is? Take the free and quick EF Standardized English Test. Think you need to strengthen your skills? Consider taking a university preparation English program with us. We have a wide range of programs in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, and even Hawaii.

The next step is to take an English test to certify you. As a general rule, the most commonly required test for admission to an American university is the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Canadian universities usually require the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Although most universities will accept any score from either test, it is important to be sure which one they require.

If you think you have the necessary preparation to take the test, you can take it at a test center in your country. Talk to your school's counseling center for more information.

8. Submit the applications

Once you are familiar with all the requirements, have taken your tests, and have requested an application form, it is time to fill it out and submit it. Please note that you will have to pay a non-refundable fee for each application you submit. These fees range from US$35 to US$100 and must be paid whether or not the university admits you.

9. Start early

Be aware of any delays that may occur during the application process. Find out the deadlines and submit your applications well in advance. It would be a shame to miss out because the mail is late that week.

10. Visas and other documents

You will need a student visa to study at a U.S. university, so it is never too early to start the paperwork. Since all your documents will already be at the admissions office of your chosen university, it should not be too complicated to send your visa information. This is also the perfect time to get information about health insurance options for your stay abroad. Although you may not need to have health insurance to obtain your student visa, some universities may require it, so don't neglect it. The health insurance you have in your home country may provide good coverage for your stay abroad, but you may want to look into other options.