top of page

US Universities Admissions

Your go-to guide for US Universities Admissions

US Admissions 

In the US, undergraduate students have a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing their major. US may be a good choice if students are undecided as to their career paths or which courses to study at university.


For the first two years, students take core courses to figure out what they're interested in and even change their major later if needed. If they're not sure what they want to major in, they can start as undecided.


While most degree programs have certain requirements, students can customize the rest of their schedule. For example, two students studying International Relations at the same college might have different schedules - one might choose to minor in History or Chemistry, while the other might switch to a major in Anthropology after a year of study!

New York Office

Types of Colleges in the US

Ivy League Colleges: admission is very competitive


Public (State) Universities: funded by the state government; tuition fees are lower than private universities.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Purdue University

  • University of California, Los Angeles

  • University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • University of Texas Austin


Private Universities: Private universities run via private funding such as alumni donations, faculty research grants, and tuition fees. Their tuition fees are higher than public universities. 


  • Duke University

  • Harvard University (also Ivy League)

  • MIT

  • Stanford University


Technical Institutions: These institutions offer engineering, science and research programs.

  • California Polytechnic Institute

  • Georgia Institute of Technology

  • MIT

Community Colleges: These colleges provide various levels of higher education, such as certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees, and specialize in imparting vocational skills.

  • Bellevue Community College

  • De Anza College

Students who attend community college and earn an associate degree can transfer their credits to a four-year college or university and complete the remaining two years of a bachelor's degree program. This allows students to save money on tuition costs by completing their general education requirements and lower-level courses at a community college before transferring to a university to complete their major coursework. However, it's important to note that not all credits may transfer and it's essential for students to work closely with academic advisors at both institutions to ensure a smooth transfer process.

Crossing Brooklyn Bridge


The Common Application (CommonApp) is accepted by over 900 institutions, including some outside the USA, and helps simplify the undergraduate admission process for students. By filling out details like name, address, and extracurricular activities only once, applicants can apply to a maximum of 20 colleges via the Common Application. Many top colleges, including all Ivy League colleges, Stanford, Caltech, Vanderbilt, and Rice, accept the Common Application.


MIT uses its own application portal called MyMIT, and the University of California and University of Texas have their own portals for undergraduate applications on their respective campuses.

It is advised to download the Application forms from the universities directly as early as possible.

Other elements of your application

1. SAT or ACT results (except test flexible or optional tests universities)


The SAT and ACT are standardized tests used as a part of the US university admission process. These tests are designed to assess an applicant's readiness for college-level work and provide a standardized measure of academic achievement.

The SAT and ACT differ in format and content. The SAT places more emphasis on vocabulary and critical reading, while the ACT has more questions and is more time-pressured.

Not all universities require the SAT or ACT, but many do. Some universities have a test-optional policy, which means that applicants are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores. However, it's important for applicants to check the admission requirements of each university they are interested in to determine whether SAT or ACT scores are required.

2. Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement (AP) is another component of the US university application process. AP courses are college-level courses that are taken in high school, and students can opt to take an AP exam at the end of the course to earn college credit or advanced placement in college.

AP courses and exam scores can be included in the university application process, and may be used to demonstrate an applicant's academic abilities and potential for success in college-level coursework. Some universities may require or strongly recommend that applicants take a certain number of AP courses, while others may not consider AP courses or scores in the admissions process.

3. English proficiency test, e.g. TOEFL, IELTS


If you are an international student and English is not your first language, you may be required to take an English proficiency test as part of the US university application process, depending on the university you are applying to.

4. School report cards


School report cards provide information about an applicant's academic performance and achievements throughout their high school years. Typically, applicants are required to submit transcripts or report cards from grades 9 to 12, which show their grades, class rank, and other academic information.

5. Extracurricular activities

Extra-curricular activities are an important aspect of the US university application process, as they demonstrate an applicant's interests, passions, and leadership abilities outside of the classroom. However, there are also some myths and misconceptions about extra-curricular activities that can be misleading for applicants. Here are a few:

  • Myth 1: Quantity over Quality - One of the biggest myths is that applicants need to participate in a large number of extra-curricular activities to be competitive. However, it's much more important to focus on quality over quantity. Admissions officers are more interested in seeing an applicant's depth of involvement and leadership in a few activities, rather than a superficial involvement in many.

  • Myth 2: Only Traditional Activities Count - Many applicants believe that only traditional activities such as sports teams or music groups count as extra-curricular activities. However, admissions officers are interested in a wide range of activities, including community service, internships, research projects, and entrepreneurial ventures.

  • Myth 3: Only School Activities Count - Another misconception is that extra-curricular activities must be school-sponsored to be considered relevant. However, activities pursued outside of school, such as volunteering, working, or participating in community organizations, can also be valuable and demonstrate an applicant's character and leadership abilities.

  • Myth 4: Extra-curricular Activities Must Align with Major - Finally, some applicants believe that their extra-curricular activities must align with their intended major or field of study. However, admissions officers are looking for well-rounded applicants and value a diverse range of interests and experiences.​

6. Personal statement and essays


PS is one of the most important aspects of your application. It provides applicants with an opportunity to share their unique story and personality with admissions officers. It's typically a written essay, and is required by most universities.

The personal statement allows applicants to reflect on their experiences, achievements, and goals, and explain why they are interested in attending a particular university. It's a chance for applicants to demonstrate their writing skills, critical thinking abilities, and intellectual curiosity.

7. Statement of Purpose (SOP)


A statement of purpose (SOP) is a written essay that is typically required for graduate school applications in the US. It's similar to a personal statement, but there are some key differences.

While the personal statement is more focused on an applicant's personal experiences, goals, and character, the SOP is more focused on an applicant's academic and professional background, research interests, and future career goals. The SOP is often used to evaluate an applicant's fit for a specific graduate program or research opportunity, and to assess their potential for success in that program or field.

8. Letters of recommendation


Typically, US universities require 1-3 LORs. They provide additional information about an applicant's academic abilities, personal character, and potential for success in college. These letters should be from individuals who know the applicant well and can provide specific examples of their achievements and character.

​9. Interview


While some US universities, such as MIT, always require interviews, others may only conduct interviews if they have alumni in the area. This is more common in large cities like London and less common in smaller towns. These interviews are typically informal and are conducted to make sure that who you are matches your application form. 

Generally, larger institutions with more alumni, particularly large private universities like Harvard, are more likely to conduct interviews. The decision to conduct interviews is not typically based on the type of candidate, unless the candidate is applying for a specific scholarship or program that requires an interview.

New York City

Links Education is a knowledgeable resource for students seeking guidance throughout the US university application process. The team is composed of individuals who have successfully navigated the process themselves and are equipped to provide expert support to students at every step. They are well-informed about the specifics of each application round and can offer invaluable guidance to students seeking to apply to universities in the US.

bottom of page