If you are currently undergoing or have completed your school education in India and are interested in pursuing your bachelor’s degree in the US, you must make sure that you fulfill certain admission criteria.Most universities have common admissions requirement for international applicants, though some may have more specific ones. Broadly speaking, you will need these before you apply to the undergraduate admissions office of any university:
Standardized Test Scores
SAT is a common standardized test that must be taken by all students for applying to universities in US. If you’re a non-native speaker of English, you must sit the TOEFL too. Some universities may waive the latter requirement, if you score a 650 or above on your SAT verbal section. You may also take the IELTS—most universities don’t differentiate between the two—if TOEFL dates are not available. Scour the websites of the universities you’re interested in for minimum recommended TOEFL/IELTS scores.
College admission committees consider your academic records of past 3 years. If you’re currently in Class 12 and have yet to appear in board exams, you would have to send your Class 12 mid-term, Class 11, 10 and 9 grades. If you have finished school,then of course,you would need to furnish Class 12
In India, most students tend to take Class 11 lightly. Also, as the syllabus expands exponentially,more often than not, Class 11 grades of students drop considerably, as compared to their Class 10 grades.Remember,your application rides on consistency of your grades.The admissions committee cannot reach a decision if your grades vary wildly.If you’re yet to take your Class 11 exams, beware, and work hard so as not botch your results.Don’t fret if you’re past that stage and have scored low—you cannot change that. What you can do, however, is to score high on the SAT, preferably 1450 or more.
For an undergraduate profile, extracurricular activities are extremely important; they strengthen your profile. You need not list several activities or hobbies, just a few meaningful ones suffice if you can exhibit in-depth knowledge, passion and commitment towards them.How you present your accomplishments to the admissions committee is what matters a lot. Make sure to leave a digital footprint, for example, adding the URL of your blog on your online application works great, if writing is one of your strong points and if you have been blogging consistently for a few years. Similarly, if singing is your hobby, shoot a video of some of your songs and upload them on Youtube. If you have volunteered for community service or social work, make sure you mention it. If you hold positions of responsibility at school, for example, if you are a head boy or head girl or if you have led a team, it doubles your chances of making it to the top tier universities. We frequently come across students who voluntarily give up such positions of responsibility so that they can focus solely on their studies, but such a move proves to be counterproductive when applying for colleges abroad.
Letters of Recommendation
Admission committees seek to gain a holistic perspective of your personality rather than focusing solely on your grades and scores. Letters of recommendation come in handy for illuminating your personal qualities as seen and felt by your teachers, coaches, etc. at school. You must present at least (if not more) three letters of recommendation; one from your School Counselor, one from a teacher and one from the Principal. In addition to these three, you may be required to present extra letters of recommendation, especially if you apply to top tier universities.
Essay is arguably the most important component of your college application. Most colleges give you 4-5 prompts and require you to choose one prompt in order to develop a write-up along its lines. Think about each prompt carefully and decide which one suits you best in terms of your skills and life experience. Some colleges give you the option of video essay, wherein you must shoot and upload a video of yourself talking about your passions, your skills, etc. Do choose it because it helps you create a stronger impression on the admissions officer and improves your chances vis-a-vis other applicants.
If your application is accepted by a top tier college, chances are that you will be asked to appear for interviews. Colleges like MIT, Harvard, etc. conduct interviews through their alumni network present in metropolitan cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc.). You may be shortlisted for online or in-person
interview. Be confident, make the most of this opportunity and present the best version of yourself.
In addition to the above, some colleges may need you to support your application with additional documents. For example, Cornell requires you to submit a portfolio of your designs for admission to the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. Visit the website of the college that you’re interested in to keep tabs on additional requirements. Universities may also take into account what school you’ve been to—if you happen to be an alumnus from a well-known school, one from which they’ve had many applicants in the past, it puts you at a definite advantage.
Among all of the above, SAT score is the only criterion that can be compared directly between two applicants; all others are subjective in nature. So to an admissions officer, you are a unique applicant. Make sure that you create a positive impression with your application.