University Applications

When Should I Start?

Compile your University Application Information:
11-12 months prior to enrollment

University Application Deadlines:
Usually 5-8 months prior to enrollment

The Application Process

Once you have narrowed down your list of possible schools and selected your final list of 6 to 7 colleges, you are ready to begin the application process. Each institution has its own application form. Deadlines and procedures will vary with each college or university so you must contact each one directly for their forms and application deadlines. Many of these are available on-line but it is usually necessary to send some additional information by mail. Many colleges and universities will also accept the common application. The key to submitting your most competitive application is to allow plenty of time to complete all the steps of the process, especially allowing sufficient time to write your required essays.

Deadlines may be as early as November or as late as May or June and could in the case of schools with a late admissions policy be as late as August but most deadlines fall in January and February. You must allow plenty of time to complete all the steps in the process. An application deadline is just that–the last possible date the school will accept a students application. It is not a guideline it is a deadline.

The Application Segments

US applications will usually require some or all of the following:

Application Form

E-mail, mail, fax or phone the U.S. university Director of Undergraduate Admissions for school brochures, application forms and financial aid information. Application forms and detailed school information may also be on-line, so check out various web sites. Give your full name (the spelling and form of the name that is used on your school documents, passport etc), address, nationality, educational qualifications, intended field of study and your ideal start date.

Standardized Tests

If your prospective U.S. college or university requires standardized test scores, you can download all relevant information from the specific testing internet sites. It is important to plan your testing schedule so as to ensure that your test scores reach the universities on your final application list before the university application deadlines. See the separate section on standardized tests for more information.

Evidence of Financial Support

Evidence of financial support must give proof that a student has sufficient funds for one year of study and a reasonable expectation of funding for the remainder of the academic program. This documentation is required by each school (and the visa officer at the embassy) before they can issue the immigration documents needed to apply for a student visa. A form is often provided by the college or university and must be signed by a bank manager or employer and accompanied by bank statements or other documents as directed. If you are applying for financial aid from the university and or other funding sources, you can list all awards you have applied for and the funds that would be available if you are successful. The universities will then expect you to confirm which funds you will actually receive.


A transcript is an official record of your school work and grades. Swiss schools do not prepare a transcript in the same manner that is common in schools in the U.S. You can ask your school/s to provide a document created by them that details the subjects you have taken and the grades received. If you already have such a document, take it along with copies of your diplomas to a certified translator (your local city government offices should have a list of certified translators in your region). Your local school/s should send a copy of your school record to the universities of your choice, you should also send a copy of your school record (an exact copy of the record sent by your school) and the copy prepared by the certified translator from the school’s record to each college or university that you will be applying to.


Normally you will need to provide 2-3 references from people that know you and your work well. They may be academic and or personal references. Be sure to follow the instructions on the application forms carefully. Every application is different.

Personal Essay

Most universities will require a personal essay or Statement of Purpose as part of the application process. Some universities will give you specific writing topics, while others will let you choose your essay topic. The personal essay is an important component of the application. This is your chance to tell the college or university about you, how you think and feel. It will shed light on your personality and tell the school what really matters to you.

Non-Refundable Application Fee

Most universities charge a non-refundable fee that you must pay when submitting your application. This fee ranges from $30 to $100 per school. Some universities accept credit card payment; otherwise, you can pay by dollar check. The easiest way to obtain a dollar check in Switzerland is from your local bank. There will be a fee for the check.

University Application Deadlines

Missed the deadline?

U.S. university deadlines are firm, therefore, you need to ensure that the full application package has reached the university before the required date. If the deadline has been missed some universities will allow students to start in January instead of the August start. Consult the school’s documentation for the January application deadline. Remember that most financial aid is distributed in August so there may be less chance of aid for students who start in January.

Rolling Admissions

Some institutions have a rolling admissions policy, which means that applications will be accepted until spaces are full. Early application is still advisable. A priority date for admissions indicates that priority will be given to those submitting applications by that date, but later applications will be considered if space is available. Do not delay in sending off your applications just because the school may have a late application deadline or a rolling admissions policy. If you wait until the last minute and there is a problem with your application you will have no time to work through it with the admissions staff. Also if you wait until the last minute, not only is your time cushion gone but it also reflects poorly on your sense of priorities.

Application Tips

  • Make photocopies of all documentation that you send to specific schools. If it is lost you don’t want to have to completely re-do everything!
  • Your application is how you first introduce yourself to the college admissions office. Making a good impression is essential.
  • Proofread all parts of your application. Not once but several times. The final product indicates to the admissions staff how meticulous and careful you are in your work. Remember that your computer spell check can’t tell the difference between due and do or bare and bear but it will certainly make a difference when you read the essay.