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College admissions timeline for U.S. students applying for college abroad

Updated: Nov 8

If you're one of the many students wondering how to apply for college abroad and need some help figuring out when or how to begin, the number one piece of advice I could give is to start planning early.

So I've created this roadmap to give you an idea of everything to consider in the college abroad admissions planning journey.

While this timeline will help students to be in the best position to apply to any country's higher education system, the number of AP's, other tests, subject-specific requirements and deadlines, however, will depend on the exact program and institution, so I would encourage you to also make sure you're doing your research along the way.

College admissions timeline for applying to college abroad

Freshman Year:

  • Introduce yourself to your school counselor

  • Join some extracurricular activities that interest you

  • Challenge yourself as much as you can in your curriculum

  • Start thinking about the classes you like and don't like (and why)

  • Get in touch with me to start comprehensive planning if needed (my rate is the same regardless of when you start; so it's better to start this option sooner than later!) or enroll in my courses on Applying for College Abroad: How to Get Started

  • Start keeping a list of activities


  • Start thinking about the college criteria that may be important to you

  • Work, volunteer, TRAVEL

  • Start preparing for the PSAT

  • Start exploring possible majors & careers

  • Take a personality test for deeper insights

Sophomore Year:

  • Take challenging classes and 1-2 AP courses if possible

  • Meet with your school counselor

  • Spend your free time only in extracurriculars you enjoy/are relevant to your possible major

  • Take the PSAT in the fall

  • Research universities & work on initial list

  • Consider possible summer programs abroad


  • Job shadow possible careers of interest

  • Discuss finances with your parent/guardian and research scholarships

  • Participate in a summer program overseas if interested

  • Visit colleges overseas and locally

  • Narrow down possible list of majors

  • Take a diagnostic SAT and prepare for SAT/ACT

Junior Year:

  • Plan to take at least 2 AP courses

  • Take the PSAT in the fall

  • Meet with your school counselor and discuss your reference letter

  • Take the SAT/ACT in the winter

  • Take the SAT/ACT in the spring

  • Take a subject test in the spring

  • Decide on your major

  • Start narrowing down list of universities


  • Register for any program-specific tests (UCAT, ISAT, LNAT, etc.)

  • Read about current events/what's happening in your field of interest

  • Review test scores as well as admissions requirements of programs of interest

  • Start writing your personal statement

  • Find ways to engage with your subject (internship, volunteer, shadowing)

  • Get in touch with me to start comprehensive support, an academic review or other guidance if you haven't already

  • Finalize your personal statement and share it with your counselor

  • Visit universities and finalize list of universities and programs

  • Create online accounts for relevant application portals

Senior Year:

  • Meet with your school counselor and discuss reference letter timelines & requirements

  • Plan to take at least 2 AP's

  • Register for and take any final standardized tests in the fall/winter

  • Make sure to take note of all application & scholarship deadlines

  • Submit the FAFSA from early October

  • Arrange virtual meetings with university reps or alumni

  • Make sure you have a valid passport

  • Aim to ideally submit all applications before Christmas

  • Prepare for and attend any necessary interviews

  • Conduct final campus visits over spring break

  • Retake any standardized tests necessary in the spring

  • Receive responses from universities and apply for other programs if necessary

  • Make final decision and complete acceptance forms

  • Apply for on-campus housing

  • Complete the visa paperwork

  • Complete any final standardized testing required

  • Send final transcript


  • Get your student visa

  • Book flight

  • Arrange temporary housing if necessary & airport pickup

  • Pack only the essentials

  • Arrange health & travel insurance



Interested in applying for college abroad?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad. I'm a San Diego based educational consultant, specializing in helping students across the globe apply for college and grad school in places like the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA), and I'm passionate about international education!

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