You’ve made the final decision of studying abroad and becoming an international student. Now you just need to do your research and apply for a university. Are you too afraid to begin the process and keep postponing it?
Well, no need to stress out! The sooner you start searching for information and begin the application process for a university degree, the higher the chances you will be accepted by one or more international universities that you dream about.
Applying to a university, whether it is in European countries like the UK, France, Germany or Sweden, in the U.S., China or anywhere else, is not as complicated as you may think. You just have to pay attention to a few details and prepare all the necessary documents as soon as possible.
1. Keep your options open
Even if you have set a clear goal that you want to be a student at a certain university, it is always best and wise to apply to at least three universities, even if they are in different locations abroad.
Remember what the Dalai Lama said: sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. So don't be disappointed if you get rejected once or things don't go exactly as you want. Try to see the bigger picture and don't allow any obstacle to discourage you.
2. Be realistic and informed
Check and read the academic requirements carefully to figure out the probability of being accepted by the university. If you don’t have a clear idea about the requirements, you can contact the department of international students or an adviser from the university.
Most of the time, these details will be available on the programmes web page, you just have to look them up and check if they are up-to-date.
3. Discover how you can apply
Usually, you can apply through the website of the university directly and submit all the required documents or send them by post. In some countries, you can apply through a specific online platform that is easier to use and also gives you the possibility to apply to more universities at once.
Some of these websites even include additional features that can help you choose your degree, especially if you’re not 100% sure of your future field of study.
4. Pay attention to details
When you apply to more universities simultaneously through various online systems, make sure you follow the exact steps and place the names of the universities in the order of your preferences.
If you're not careful, you might end up missing on your favourite study destination so make sure you pay proper attention during the application process.
5. Write a great motivation letter
Some universities will require a motivation letter. You will find many examples on the internet on how a motivation letter should look like. However, it would be better for you to stand out a bit.
You should try to be as honest as possible and share all your experiences that are connected to the academic requirements and your future study programme. Make sure you explain why studying at that university means so much to you and what you can gain and offer while being one of their students.
6. Be careful with the paperwork
All documents have to be translated into the official language of the respective country and legally authenticated by a competent authority. This means an official stamp could stand between you and your degree.
Make sure you read carefully the documents that are required and prepare them as soon as possible. Doing this early offers you a great advantage. If you send the documents and something is wrong, you still have enough time to make the necessary changes.
What you need to know before applying to an international university
Some countries have specific requirements or rules for international students. If you are from the EU and apply to a university from an EU country as well, the application process is more likely to be easier and receive a reply faster than if you were a non-EU student.
Check out below some specific particularities and requirements in US, UK, China and some of the countries in the EU.
How to apply in EU countries
In the UK, most universities will only accept your application through the UCAS system for a Bachelor degree and if you apply for a postgraduate programme, you can either submit all documents through the university’s own website, or through UKPASS system.
In Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany, you have to go through a pre-application procedure and check the criteria of eligibility of your prior studies. Mainly, you have to get a response either from the embassy/consulate in your area or the international office of the university about the probability of being admitted.
Most EEA countries require an entrance examination which may be a written test, and depending on your study choice, you may have to additionally pass auditions or present a portfolio.
In Switzerland, distance education certificates, night school certificates or part-time high schools are not recognised by Swiss universities. This means that you will have to pass the Swiss equivalent for international baccalaureate called maturity examination.
How to apply to universities in North America
If your dream is to study in the U.S., the general recommendation is to start searching for a programme two years before you intend to apply. Furthermore, it is best to contact the university advisors/officers one year before you submit all the documents.
How to apply to universities in Asia
China has set an age limit when it comes to applying for a degree as follows: universities don’t accept students over 30 for a Bachelor’s degree and over 40 for a Master’s degree and a PhD.
How to apply to universities in Australia
Australia has set a helpful system to attract and help international students better understand the application procedure. Through the UAC website, Australia provides education advisors/agents in all countries who will offer complete details and information to future international students about applying to a university. Moreover, through Qualifications Framework (AQF) for higher education in Australia, you can also have a clearer picture of the degree names and levels.
For big cities like Melbourne, you can use StudyMelbourne, which offers you more in-depth information about courses, accommodation, work opportunities and other useful information.
Applying to an online degree anywhere in the world
If you decide to go for an online Master's degree, you won't have to worry about as many application requirements. You'll find great options from international universities all across the globe. Here are a few examples: