turkishstudentIf you’re applying to a U.S. university, from Turkey, be aware that the process is extensive. Expect to spend two years researching school choices, taking tests, and assembling all materials.

The Process

The U.S. has around 2,000 four-year colleges and universities, presenting an array of majors and choices. There’s no centralized university system, so each university has its specific admissions requirements. For international students, competition is stiff: On average, a university accepts no more than 15 percent of its students from overseas. For improving your chances and getting through the process, consider these tips:

  1. Expand your reach to schools outside those you’ve heard of. In the U.S., this is often schools outside the Ivy League and Northeast region. Consider top-name universities like: Stanford, CalTech, Notre Dame, University of Chicago, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt, and Johns Hopkins.
  2. Get to know what life is like for an international student on campus. We suggest that you contact the school’s international student advisor to inquire about the application process and to see if you can speak with other international students.
  3. Put together all official documents, including test scores, letters of recommendation, coursework, and essays.
  4. Expect to address your GPA, standardized test scores, teacher and counselor recommendation letters, essays, interviews, community service, and extracurricular activities because U.S. universities seek out well-rounded applicants.
  5. Schedule, take, and send scores for the IELTS or TOEFL (more accepted), and the SAT or ACT, along with any SAT Subject Tests. Students applying to graduate programs must take the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT, depending upon the field of study.
  6. Fill out the Common Application, an online application accepted by over 450 U.S. universities.
  7. Research Early Action and Early Decision. Early Decision limits you to one university in November but gives you an advantage to getting accepted to that university. Early Action has the advantage of letting you know by early January whether a university wants you, but you need not commit to that offer.
  8. Officiate the status of your school. Because high school and college curricula are not uniform across countries, students may have to submit their transcripts to a credential evaluator, who then translates it to the U.S.’s standards.
  9. Apply for an F-1 student visa. Consult the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, and have your admissions letter and certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant students on hand.


Turkish students applying to undergraduate programs will likely have to take at least two of the following tests:

TOEFL/IELTS: These English-language proficiency tests are a prerequisite at nearly all U.S. colleges. A good score not only shows your abilities but further indicates how well you’ll be able to handle coursework and class participation – two aspects of a successful college experience. If your score initially falls short, consider looking into English-language classes or tutoring.

The SAT: Long considered the standard for U.S. college admissions, the SAT is available internationally. The SAT is offered seven times per year and it is advantageous to take it several times. To get started, students must register with their region’s SAT International Representative by mail, online, or over the telephone; for Turkey, ETS Europe/SAT Services is the organization. Contact them to request and then send back The Paper Registration Guide for the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests, and include your payment.

The ACT Alternative: All U.S. universities allow students to submit ACT scores instead of SAT scores. The ACT is a test given several times a year internationally. Certain students may find it is better for their admission. The ACT does not test vocabulary at a high level like the SAT, and the ACT does not include 100-year old reading passages like the SAT. The ACT has a “Science Reasoning” section that replaces some of the Math. This means a student who is good at science and not-so-strong at math is likely to have an advantage on the ACT. Students can view ACT guidelines and register.

The SAT Subject Tests: Most of the “top 50” universities demand two Subject Test scores. These are one-hour tests in a multitude of subjects, designed to evaluate your proficiency. Our suggestion is to take the test in any subject in which you are capable of a 700+ score.

Ivy Bound tutors are available online to help students based in Turkey. Those who might spend a summer in a U.S. city or in a U.S. university enrichment program may be able to enlist an Ivy Bound tutor face-to-face.

Financial Aid

It’s rare that a U.S. college or university offers financial aid to international students. In fact, ability to pay is weighted more in admissions decisions, so be ready to show proof of your family’s income and assets.

Aid isn’t entirely off limits, and Turkish students have an array of options:

  • The International Student Exchange & Study Abroad Resource
  • International Financial Aid and Scholarship Search
  • Scholarships from the Turkish Fulbright Commission
  • The Eczacıbaşı
  • Suna-İnan Kıraç Foundation
  • The Turkish Oil Foundation
  • The Türk Eğitim Vakfı

Do you have your sights set on applying to college in the U.S.? Let Ivy Bound assist in test prep, essay writing, and academic enrichment. Fill out a contact form to find out more.