Calendar and Checklist

The following calendar and checklist will help you with your college admissions planning. It begins 24 months (2 years) before your planned enrollment date.

When What
(24 months)
Begin your search for colleges. Visit the nearest educational advising center and the library. Explore college sites on the web. Talk with family, friends, and acquaintances who may have studied in the US. Write to 10-15 schools for information.
(22-23 months)
Start preparing for the TOEFL exam and other admissions tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, or SAT).
December – May
(16-21 months)
Register for the TOEFL exam and other admissions tests.
(20 months)
Select the schools to which you will apply. Request application materials if you haven’t already.
March – June
(15-18 months)
Take the TOEFL and other admissions tests. You must take the tests before November, or you will miss the deadlines at most universities. Taking the tests now gives you a chance to improve your scores by taking them again in October.
(16 months)
Identify the teachers you will ask for letters of recommendation.
(14 months)
Read the college applications and backtrack the deadlines to allow yourself enough time to complete them. Remember to allow for delays in the mail. Narrow your list of schools to 10.
(13 months)
Write a draft of your application essays and statement of purpose. Get comments on it from friends and an English teacher.
(12 months)
If you want to try improving your scores on the TOEFL and other exams, register for a second set of tests.
(12 months)
Ask your teachers to write letters of recommendation for you. Given them the necessary forms and a stamped, addressed envelope.
(11 months)
Complete your essays and application forms, including the financial aid application forms. Mail them airmail. Ask your schools to send certified copies of your academic transcripts.
(11 months)
Take the TOEFL and other exams again, if necessary.
(10 months)
Check with your teachers and the school to make sure your recommendations and transcripts have been mailed.
(9 months)
Respond promptly to any requests for additional information.
(4-5 months)
You will start hearing from colleges. Contact the admissions office if you do not receive anything from them. Accept one school’s offer, and notify them and the others of your choice. Ask the school to send you the I-20 or IAP-64 form. Make permanent housing arrangements if you will be staying on-campus, temporary housing arrangements if you will be living off-campus. Apply for a passport if you do not already have one.
(3 months)
Apply for a visa. Attend pre-departure orientation programs in your country. Make travel arrangements. Plan to arrive at least 15 days prior to orientation (2 months if you have to take an English course).
(1-2 months)
Have a nice trip!