In the previous chapter of the Ultimate College Prep Guide we discussed how to apply for financial aid and the many options available to your student to help pay for college. While college is undeniably expensive, there are ways to make it more affordable for everyone.

This final chapter is directed towards international students planning on applying to college in the US and their parents. Nearly 4% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the US are international and that number is continuously growing. It’s very likely that the application process will vary greatly depending on what country these students are from. We know the US application process can be confusing. Here we’ll talk about what you need to know to make sure no important steps are missed in the process, so you can successfully apply and attend a US university.

The College Board, which is the organization that manages many of the standardized tests within the US, has some great resources for international students. We’ve modeled our article after their framework to give students a basic timeline of when things should be completed.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this chapter.

Two-Years Before University: Fulfilling Requirements

The application process for university is long even for students from the US. Students applying from other countries should start the process two years before they plan to go to university — if not sooner.

Explore Universities and Build a List

The first step is actually figuring out which universities your student is interested in. This may be difficult because they may not be familiar with any of the cities or available programs. They should take some time to do their research. The College Board’s Big Future website is a great place to start the search for universities.

Make sure students are comparing schools not just by what field they may be interested in, but also the campus size and location. The student body size and city will definitely have an impact on their college experience. If possible, find out if your student can visit or even spend a few days at the college campus for a truly immersive experience.

Other resources:

Take the SAT/ACT

Most US schools will require some form of standardized academic examination as part of the application. These exams help show to the colleges that students are academically ready for higher education.

The two most widely used forms of college admissions tests are the SAT and ACT. Both exams test reading, math and writing skills but differ slightly in terms of topics covered and skills emphasized. Your student should figure out which exam they think will allow them to better show their abilities before deciding which to take. Make sure they set their test date for a few months away so they have time to really prepare for it and showcase their strengths to the fullest extent.

Once your student has decided which test to take, they will need to register with