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Undergraduate Study Application Requirements

Colleges in the U.S. review applications holistically, meaning that they look at all elements of “you.” Therefore, a college application will typically require:

–        A completed application form

–        Personal statement and two to three essays

–        Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT, plus SAT Subject Tests, if required)

–        Two or three reference letters

–        Transcript of final four years of school (all courses, grades, Junior and Leaving Certificate scores)

–        Application fee

–        Optional interviews

All of the above will be taken into consideration when reviewing your application. Not only are your grades and test results important, but U.S. colleges want to see well-rounded candidates who are involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports, volunteering, the arts, or work experience. Be proud of your achievements and be sure and share them in your application form.

Please note that there is no centralized application process in the U.S. so each application will vary. Some schools do utilize the Common Application and more information can be found here: https://www.commonapp.org.

Completing a successful application to a college in the U.S. will take up to 18 months. It is recommended that Irish students begin thinking of the process as early as their Fourth Year and actively working towards an application in their Fifth Year.


Spring of Fifth Year


  • Begin researching college options. Think about things like school location, campus life, cost of living, and areas of expertise when deciding on where to apply.
  • Use the Five Steps to U.S. Study Tool on the EducationUSA website to help with your search: www.educationusa.state.gov.
  • Consider taking a spring SAT exam or begin studying for an autumn test date.

Summer Between Fifth and Sixth Year


  • Continuing researching college options and narrow down selection to between four and six schools.
  • Take free practice tests on www.collegeboard.org and sign up for autumn SAT. Be sure you sign up by the “early deadline,” as this is required for international students.
  • Begin drafting personal statements and essays for each application.

Autumn of Sixth Year


  • Take SAT exam and submit scores to your chosen schools. You can take the SAT more than once, but two times is typical.
  • Continue working hard in school, as U.S. colleges will want to see your transcript (all courses and grades), as well as your final Leaving Certificate scores.
  • Begin applications to chosen colleges. Be sure to check deadlines for each school, as they will vary. For Early Applications, some may be as early as November.
  • Ask your referees for written references, which are required for a college application. Be sure and give them plenty of notice. It is helpful to give them a brief résumé or CV to remind them of your extracurricular activities and other experiences.
  • Apply for financial aid, which is a separate process than the college application.

Spring of Sixth Year


  • Receive admission and funding decisions from university, typically around March or April.
  • Begin organizing your information for your student visa, either I-20, F-1 Student visa or DS-2019, J-1 Exchange Visitor visa. The visa process is through the U.S. Embassy in Dublin and more information can be found here: http://dublin.usembassy.gov/visas.html.
  • Accept offer from university and pay non-refundable deposit. All deadlines vary so read your offer letter carefully.

Summer After Sixth Year


  • Complete your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
  • Begin studying in the U.S. at the end of the summer…Congratulations…