How to Study Abroad in the United States

By Tess Campbell Modified on June 07, 2021

Study at one of the world's best schools with this 5 step guide to going to university in the US.

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How to Study Abroad in the US

Why should you choose to study in the US? Its culture offers enriching history, world-class sports, amazing museums, cities based entirely around music, and diverse cuisine. Within one country you get rolling mountains, cityscapes, and natural world wonders. Earn a degree while exploring the country. Start your adventure by reading on.

1. Where to begin?

The biggest question for high school students is "where will I go to school?" There are many factors you need to think of to choose the right school for you. Does the school offer programs that you're interested in? Does it have extracurricular options? Is there a good vibe on campus?

But most important for Canadian students: is it a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school? (pdf) A SEVP certified school is one that has registered with the government to enrol nonimmigrant students. It may be a great school, but if it's not SEVP certified, you won't be able to attend as a Canadian!

2. How to apply

The best way to keep track of your applications is by applying through the schools that you're interested in directly. This way you can be sure you're meeting all the requirements and deadlines. It's a good idea to keep a record of your applications in an excel or word file so you don't miss any information.

3. What do you need to apply?

Each school will ask for different requirements in the application process, but some are consistent everywhere.

  • SAT or ACT scores
    • SAT: A test that measures the reading, writing, and mathematics levels of high school students
    • ACT: A test that measures a student's English, math, reading, science, and sometimes writing skills
  • Positive grades from all four years of high school
    • US schools, unlike Canadian, typically look at your grades throughout high school. So, if your grades weren't great at the beginning, don't worry! School admins are looking to see if your grades trended upwards
  • Written essay
    • Different schools will ask different essay questions, but generally, you should write about a topic not otherwise mentioned in your application that shows who you are and how you will make a difference. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through
  • Recommendations from senior-level teachers
  • Demonstrated interest in the university
    • Try signing up for in-person or remote campus visits and admissions interviews. Contact the admissions office for more information
  • Identify a couple of sustained extracurriculars that you participated in all through secondary school to demonstrate a balanced life

4. When do you apply?

While Canadian universities typically have one set deadline in January for applying to universities, every school in the US has a different timetable. It's important to check with the schools you're interested in to see when its deadlines are.

Schools in the US often have four separate deadlines to watch out for when applying:

  • Regular decision
  • Early action (a student receives an early response to their application but doesn't have to attend that school)
  • Early decision (a student who's accepted must attend the school)
  • Rolling admissions

5. Do you need a visa?

As a Canadian citizen, you don't need a student visa. Instead, the school you'll attend will send you an I-20 "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" form. This, along with a payment of approximately $350 USD (approx. $422 CAD) for the I-901 SEVIS fee, is required to enter the US.

You'll also need:

  • A Canadian passport
  • The original I-20 certificate
  • Proof that the SEVIS fee has been paid
  • Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the United States
  • Proof of ties to Canada

Have fun studying in the United States!


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