A Guide To The College Admissions Cycle

17 Jan, 2023Blog Articles, Get the Edge

Your college application can be potentially stressful and intimidating, but it needn’t be a confusing process. We’ve prepared this handy college admissions guide to help you apply to some of the best universities worldwide. Whether you’re thinking of a college application in the US, UK or around the world, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to find out about step-by-step college admissions processes to help if you’re preparing for admissions tests and want to make an excellent college application. 

college admission choices

United Kingdom


Perhaps you’re keen to study at Oxford University or some other prestigious UK tertiary institution. Here’s what you need to know. 

The admissions process for all universities in the UK is relatively simple. You will use a centralised online service called UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Everyone uses this service to apply to any undergraduate University course in the UK. 

You can select up to five different courses to which you want to apply. You can choose courses from the same university, different ones, or a combination. Once you’ve sent your application to UCAS, they send it on to the relevant admissions teams. This makes the contents of your UCAS application vitally important. 

There are two major deadlines. The earlier deadline is around 15th October and that’s for Oxford and Cambridge University. However, it’s advisable to check the exact date for your year. Remember, many Oxford University courses require applicants to take an admissions test for which you need to register. Check here whether your Oxford University course requires you to take any admissions tests. 

The deadline for other universities’ undergraduate courses is typically 15th January. But many universities and colleges continue to accept applications from international students until later in the year. 


Some key things UCAS asks for include the following:

  • Five course choices
  • Personal statement
  • Education and employment history
  • References
  • Some additional questions

Read our Ultimate Guide to UCAS and Personal Statements for an in-depth look at how to navigate this process. 

Please note: In January 2023, UCAS announced some changes to the admissions process, and the personal statement will be different for admissions cycles from 2024/25. This article will be updated when the changes are confirmed.

UK university application

United States


The first thing to know about US college admissions is that there are multiple deadlines when applying to different colleges. 

Early decision deadlines are usually in November. On the upside, you’ll hear back soon thereafter, often around December. However, early decision acceptances are binding, meaning that once accepted at that college, that’s your only option. Make sure your early decision application is to a college that is definitely your top choice. 

Alternatively, there are other application deadlines – e.g. early action deadlines – and these aren’t binding. Or rolling admissions, which means that once a class is full, they won’t accept more students. Students generally have until May 1 to pay their enrollment deposit and decide on their school. 

As far as college application platforms go, students have a variety of options. One of the more popular ones is called The Common Application, referred to as the Common App. You only need to fill out one college application and it can be used for over 800 colleges, including many Ivy League and other high-profile ones such as Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Remember, many colleges have additional supplements, as well as application fees, which you will still need to submit to make a complete application. 

However, it’s important to bear in mind that not all schools accept the Common App. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a popular and prestigious option, does not. Other application options include:

The best thing to do is to visit a college’s website to find out what their specific requirements are when making your college applications. The Common App, Coalition Application and Universal College application all list their partner schools on their websites. 

US college applications



There are a large number of higher education programmes available for foreign students, whether you speak French or not, states Campus France. Statistically, 12% of France’s 2.5 million students are from abroad. 

France has set up an online application system (parcoursup), where final year high school students can apply to any French University, and many other higher education courses in France. This site, however, is in French. 

Students from the 33 countries listed below need to complete the Campus France online application form. You’ll create an online student file that allows you to send pre-enrollment requests to higher education institutions. Campus France also has offices in multiple countries – it’s  worth checking out if your country is represented. “The offices can provide information on the programmes that exist in France, help students develop their goals and accomplish the administrative procedures required to see them become reality,” states the website.

Countries which fall under this scheme include: Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Columbia, Comoro Islands, Congo (Brazzaville), South Korea, Ivory Coast, United States, Gabon, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Russia, Syria, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey and Vietnam.

However, procedures are more complicated if you’re not an EU national. In such a case, you’ll have to make a preliminary application for admission, known as a Demande d’admission préalable (DAP). 




Interestingly, all but one of the 41 Lebanese universities are private. Despite the official language being Arabic, the language of instruction is English or French. 

You need to apply directly to your chosen Lebanese university, providing the relevant documents such as your academic record. In addition, you’ll need to prove your proficiency in the course’s language of study. This is unnecessary if you’re a native speaker of the language or you’ve previously studied in English or French. You may also need to provide letters of recommendation, personal statement or essay as well as test results (such as the GMAT).

guide for college students



For most courses, international students will apply to the university directly. However, if you want to study a course in engineering, architecture, planning or management, you should apply through DASA (Direct Admission of Students Abroad Scheme). The scheme is aimed at foreign nationals, Persons of Indian Origins (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to give them direct admission to undergraduate programmes at various institutions. 




There are approximately 174 universities in Pakistan, including public and private institutions. Teaching is mostly conducted in English. There are currently two broad categories for prospective international students:

  1. The self-finance scheme if you want to study medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and engineering courses. You need to submit your application to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC). You may need to take an HIV test before you can start your course. 
  2. The general scheme if you want to study anything else. You need to apply directly to the university itself, supplying the required documents. 


In conclusion, even though the college admission process can be difficult to navigate, you’re not facing it alone. We hope that this blog has helped you to understand the college application process for a wide variety of countries, including some of the requirements for prestigious universities like Oxford University or Cambridge. 

Remember that many college applications involve multiple steps so it’s a good plan to start early with a to-do list and get the help of your high school as much as possible. This will help reduce anxiety and give you a forward-looking plan.

Good luck with your college application process! We’d love to hear from our alumni of the Oxford Scholastica Academy about which universities they are applying to, so get in touch with our team to let us know. 

Explore the Oxford Scholastica Academy

Oxford Scholastica Academy summer courses are the perfect opportunity to experience what it’s really like to study your chosen subject at university. On top of that, you’ll gain practical and academic skills to boost your confidence with college applications, wherever you choose to study.