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How Early Should You Apply To Study Abroad?

If you're hoping to study abroad, here’s something you need to know: the process of applying to overseas universities can get pretty complicated.

You’ll have to take certain standardized tests, compile relevant documents for your application, write admission essays… the list goes on and on.

At this point, you might have a ton of questions running through your head, including…

What’s the typical college application timeline? 

What are the deadlines to apply? 

What do I need to do to apply?


In this blog post, we demystify the process of applying to overseas universities, and walk you through all that you need to know!  

When Do You Start Applying For College?

Simply put, the deadlines for applying to college depend on two factors: which country you’re applying to, and whether you apply through early decision or regular decision. 

We’ve outlined the relevant dates for applying to colleges in the US, UK and Australia in the following sections, so read on to find out more! 


Applying To Australian Universities: AU Application Deadlines

For those applying to Australian universities, you’ll require a Statement of Purpose, resume, school certificates, two letters of reference, an IELTS score sheet and a copy of your Birth Certificate.

In Australia, universities generally have three intake periods in February, July and November. For international students, admission deadlines are in October, May and September.

This differs from university to university, but generally speaking, Australian universities normally take 4 to 6 weeks to process your application. 

If you’re hoping to study in Australia, you’ll want to play it safe, and start preparing for your applications seven months prior to when admissions close. 


Applying To US Universities: US Application Deadlines

A quick heads-up: if you’re applying to US universities, you’ll have plenty to prepare for, including your recommendation letters and personal essay.

The majority of US universities look at your SAT grades (as opposed to UK universities, which look at your A-level results), so you’ll have to sit for the SAT exams. In certain cases, you may also be required to go for the ACT and AP exams.

When it comes to college application deadlines, here’s a handy list to refer to:

Applications for Regular Decision (RD) admissions (ie the common app deadline) are open from 1st January to 1st February. 

Applications for Early Decision (ED) admissions are open from 1st November to 11th November.

Applications for Rolling Admissions (RA) are open based on the college’s discretion.

Generally speaking, we recommend that you start preparing to study in the US three months prior to when admissions close. 


Applying To UK Universities: UK Application Deadlines

Most UK universities will require you to send in a “personal statement” with your application, but there are no standard tests (such as the SAT test) that you’ll have to take to apply. 

If you’re hoping to read Medicine or Dentistry in the UK, applications for these courses typically open in early September and closes in mid-October.

The same goes for all other courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge - applications open in early September and close before the end of October.


For courses in other schools, you’re looking at an admissions deadline of mid-January. 

Do check with the specific university you want to attend to confirm their admissions deadline, and if they require you to sit for additional (non-standard) admissions tests.

Generally speaking, we recommend that you start preparing to study in the UK two months prior to when admissions close. 

Want To Study Abroad, And Experience Life In Another Country?

Here at IDP, we’ll walk you through the process of applying to study overseas, including:

Giving you advice on what course 

to take

Applying for your course and student visa

Preparing for your departure 

To learn more about the steps involved in studying overseas, read our guide.

Want to take the first step in embarking on an amazing adventure? Find a course on IDP today!

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