by Ariel Bloomer

Mid-way through September can be a pretty stressful time for seniors; along with your coursework there are important tasks to accomplish this month to secure university admission. Use this basic step-by-step planning method to stay ahead of the game.


Step 1: Pick your universities

By now, you have probably identified the countries to which you’d like to apply. If not, get on it! The next step is narrowing your list down to a handful of specific schools. You’ll want to consider your intended field of study, the size of the school, its location, and any other factors that may be important to you, like religious affiliation or sports. A good list will contain ‘reach’, ‘match’ and ‘safety’ schools; a range of institutions that include elite, competitive schools on one end, and schools certain to accept you based on your academic credentials on the other. Make sure to have a rough idea of your predicted grades, and then classify which universities are within your 'reach'.

Step 2: Know your deadlines

You will want to check the application deadlines of schools that interest you. Some schools have rolling deadlines, meaning they will admit students until they reach their limit. In such cases, it’s still good to apply early, especially if you will need to acquire a visa or other immigration documents. Other schools may have Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) deadlines. These deadlines mean submitting your application materials early, usually in November. You also receive your admission decision much earlier from the school. ED applications are binding, meaning that if the school accepts you, you must attend. EA applications are non-binding, meaning you are not obligated to go if they accept you. Applying under these deadlines can give your application a boost and may improve your chance of success; it shows preparedness and commitment to the school. However, applying ED is a commitment that should only be made if you are absolutely sure the school is your top choice and best fit.
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multiple choice

Step 3: Get ready for your tests!

What tests do you need for admittance? Most American institutions require the SAT or the ACT. Check the dates and locations to see which will be more convenient for you. The ACT includes a science section, which may benefit students who enjoy the sciences. Some schools may also ask for SAT subject tests, so make sure to research what your chosen schools require. International students are expected to additionally submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Haven’t taken these tests yet? Sign up now to make sure you have your scores ready to go by the deadline!

Step 4: Talk to your teachers

Who are you going to ask for recommendations? Ask teachers who know you well if they would be able to write you a strong recommendation for university admission. You will want to give them enough time to prepare a good letter. Talk to them this month, especially if you are applying early decision or early action.
Finally… Keep working hard! Now is not the time to slack off in your classes. Keep up with your assignments and make the best grades possible. Doing well in class is a sure-shot way of winning your teachers' approval, needless to mention, predicted grades too!

University planning can be complicated and overwhelming, but it only gets worse when you procrastinate. If you are struggling to organize a list of potential schools, choose an application deadline, or have questions about what to do next our network of IB alumni and university graduates can help you evaluate your options and set you on the path to success. Also, let us know if you need our expert advice with improving your application essays!

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