Applying to U.S. Universities

This course will help you understand how the U.S. university application and admission process works for international students and non-native English speakers applying to undergraduate (i.e., bachelor's degree) programs.

About The Course

“It depends.”  That is what you’ll hear when asking about the U.S. university admission process.  With over 4,000 universities in the United States and no standard application system, the U.S. admission process can be confusing for everyone, but especially for students applying from other countries.

This course will help international students (non-U.S. citizens) and non-native English speakers navigate the U.S. university admission process by offering practical information about the documents and pieces that make up a U.S. university application.  More importantly, admission officers will discuss how they use those pieces to decide who is accepted and who is denied, so that you can understand the process beyond the pieces.

By the end of this course, you will understand application basics that include researching schools, creating a school list, and establishing an application plan.  This course will not answer all of your application questions, but it will teach you to ask the right questions of yourself and the universities.  Ultimately, you will have all the information you need to start your process the right way, putting you on the path to acceptance.

* Please note, while the English Language Programs are part of the University of Pennsylvania, this is not a course about applying to Penn.  Furthermore, this course is intended for international students educated in the national curriculum of their country.  While other students are welcome to enroll, the course is not intended for American students or students studying in an American, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement curriculum.  The course is also intended for students who do not have access to university counseling – if you attend a school that offers university counseling, your counselor is the best source of information on applying to university.  Finally, this course is for undergraduate (Bachelors degree) freshmen (students who have not attended any university) applicants.  Undergraduate transfer applicants, students who have attended a university, will find some of the information helpful, but graduate (Masters and Doctoral) applicants will not.

Frequently Asked Questions

What resources will I need for this class?

For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, an open mind, and the willingness to dedicate hard work to the application process.

Will financial aid or paying for university be discussed in this course?

The financial aid process is even more complex than the admission process.  Because financial aid guidelines can significantly differ from school to school, we will not be reviewing financial aid during this course.  A good source of information regarding financial aid is your country or region's U.S. Department of State supported EducationUSA Advising Center.

Will this class help me be accepted at the University of Pennsylvania?

This course is about university admission, not admission to Penn.  Taking this class will help you submit your best application for admission, but it in no way will directly help you gain admission to Penn.

What is the English Language Programs (ELP)?

The ELP is an intensive English language program where student can improve their English language abilities.  The ELP also offers a specialized University Connection (UniConn) Program that helps English language learners apply to U.S. universities and prepare for admission tests like the SAT, ACT, and TOEFL.  While the ELP is a University of Pennsylvania program, there is no connection between the ELP and admission to Penn.  For more information, visit ELP.

How do I connect with the course on social media?

You can follow Applying to U.S. Universities on Twitter, join its student community on Facebook, or add it to your circles on Google+.

Does the English Language Program offer other online courses?

Yes, the English Language Program also offers Writing the University Application Essay - Online.  This course is an online writing course intended for international freshman applicants to U.S. colleges and universities. Writing the University Application Essay - Online is designed as a practical process-oriented guide to writing an effective and memorable personal statement. The course begins by examining the essay within the larger application to reveal how it impacts admissions decisions. With an understanding of the admissions audience and expectations, students will work to identify engaging topics, analyze common application prompts, and craft an essay that avoids common mistakes and highlights students' unique strengths and personalities. The course will introduce expert advice, sample essays, editing checklists, and strategies for creative and effective writing. Students will participate in interactive writing workshops and receive extensive individualized feedback from instructors. By the end of the course, students will complete 3 full drafts towards a final essay.  To apply to for the course visit the Writing the university Application Essay - Online homepage.  The course starts on July 27, 2014 and the deadline to apply is July 10, 2014.

How can I learn about other open courses at Penn?

For more information on Penn’s Open Learning initiative, please go to:
http://openlearning.upenn.edu


Recommended Background

No specific background is required, but students should have a basic understanding of the U.S. higher education system and how the system works.

All are welcome, but the course is intended for international students educated in the national curriculum of their country.  While other students are welcome to enroll, the course is not intended for American students or students studying in an American, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement curriculum.  The course is also intended for students who do not have access to university counseling – if you attend a school that offers university counseling, your counselor is the best source of information on applying to university.  Finally, this course is for undergraduate (Bachelors degree) freshmen (students who have not attended any university) applicants.  Undergraduate transfer applicants, students who have attended a university, will find some of the information helpful, but graduate (Masters and Doctoral) applicants will not.

Resources to explore before taking the course include:

EducationUSA

CollegeBoard International

Test you should have taken or consider taking as soon as possible:

SAT

ACT