A level results are finally out, and +2 is to (hopefully) follow suit soon. As youths all over Nepal go over their options for higher studies, some of us have had our eyes on US universities for some time now. But if you’ve just started to look over your options in the US and feel lost, don’t worry— it’s perfectly natural. The application process for US universities is vast and very intimidating even to people who have been on it for over a year. If you’ve just started on the process, this is the article for you.



Let’s start with the very basics. The very first step to applying to US universities is to take the SAT. If you’re a high school student you have probably heard of the SAT. It’s a test organised by the collegeboard to assess students’ ability to do well in college.  It is branched into four sections: Reading, Writing, Math (No calculator) Math (Calculator). The highest possible score is 1600 (800 Reading and Writing, 800 Maths). If you want a good shot at elite universities, you should aim for 1450+ but a score of more than 1300 also gives you a decent chance. Khan academy is a very helpful website to study for the SAT.

The SAT is usually offered in May, August, September, October and December in Nepal. Be sure to register one month in advance so that you don’t miss the deadline. The fee for taking the SAT is around Rs 14-15000 depending on the price ofn] dollar. 

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As a Nepali, you can register for SAT online but you will have to pay through a bank that provides online dollar payment service. Nabil Bank is the most popular bank for this but some other Banks like Kumari Bank, Siddhartha Bank offer the service too. Register for the SAT here. Remember to take your passport/ citizenship with you while paying. 



If you haven’t studied in an English Medium School in Nepal, then you will have to sit for the TOEFL (Test Of English as a FOreign LAnguage) too. TOEFL is scored out of 120, for elite universities you should aim for 100+ but the bare minimum is 60+. The registration and payment process is similar to the SAT but the cost is around Rs 20,000. TOEFL is online this year due to the pandemic. Register for the TOEFL here .TOEFL isn’t required nor recommended for students who have studied in an English medium school.

To get a good score you need a strong command over spoken and written English along with good comprehension skills (Check out our article on Top 10 Free Mobile Apps To Learn English ). 

The commonapp

After registering for SAT and TOEFL, you have to create a commonapp account . Unlike Nepal, you don’t have to apply to US universities one by one separately. To make things easier for you, most US colleges accept the commonapp, short for common application. It is one universal application you can submit to over 900 member universities.


To start with, go to the commonapp website and create an account. You should click on “First-year student”  and register for an account. After registering you will be redirected to your dashboard.


From the menu bar, you go to the “Common app” section. There are a lot of fields to fill, so take it slowly. Other than general information, you will need your high school counselor email (more on this later), personal information and education history of your parents, a list of your extracurricular activities, standardized test scores (SAT)  and your grades in each course you’ve taken over your high school career.


Probably the most grueling part of applying to the US are the essays. There are two types of essays: the commonapp essay and college supplements.

Almost all colleges require a commonapp essay. This is a personal statement you can use to describe yourself in an unique way. There are seven prompts each year that you can choose from, you can find them here.

Besides commonapp essay some colleges ask for an extra supplemental essays. These are college-specific and differ from one university to another. For these colleges you will have to submit a commonapp essay AND additional supplemental essays.

Tip: Write about your Nepali heritage in your essay, admissions officers love unique cultures.


In US colleges, you will usually find three types of deadlines: an ED (Early Decision) deadline, an EA (Early Action) deadline and a RD (Regular Decision) deadline. There are two intakes— the fall intake (November- January) and the spring intake (July- September). Most elite universities offer only fall intake. 

Rolling ED
  1. Early Decision: This is a binding option for applicants. You have to apply early and if you are offered admission, you will be obligated to accept and go to the university. You can only apply ED to one college. This option offers a higher acceptance rate so it is usually a good idea to pick your favorite college and apply there early. Since most Nepali people require aid, in case you don’t get enough aid/ scholarships you won’t be obligated to join.

    Deadline: November 1-15
    Decisions: December 1-15
  2. Early Action: This is similar to Early Decision, but you won’t be obligated to join if you choose the university if you are accepted

    Deadline: November 1- December 1
    Decisions: December 15- January 15
  1. Regular Decision: This is the actual college application deadline. You can apply to up to 20 colleges through the commonapp and you can choose from the colleges you are offered admission to (No obligation).

    Deadline: January 1- 15
    Decisions: March 1 – April 1
  2. Rolling Admissions: Besides the regular 3, some colleges also offer Rolling admissions. In this type, you just apply whenever you are ready and the college will give your decision after a specified days. There are no decision dates for this type of applications and deadlines vary according to colleges.

Helpful terms inside commonapp

  1. High school counsellor: This is the person who will send your mark sheets, transcripts and certificates to colleges. In Nepal, since most +2 schools don’t have one, you can just ask your principal or an administrator to act as your counsellor.
  2. Acceptance Rate: This is the percentage of people a college admits from the total number of applicants. Higher the acceptance rate, higher your chances of getting in!
  3. Liberal Arts college: These are colleges that only offer a Bachelor’s degree program. There are some more nuances to it but for now let’s just leave it at that.
  4. Recommender: These are teachers who will write a letter of recommendation for you. You should pick two of your high school teachers (who like you the most) for this.
  5. Financial aid: This is just another term for scholarships. Your aid is usually calculated according to your family’s need in most elite universities. In those elite universities, most Nepalis get the amount of aid they want provided they can get in.

By now, you should have a basic idea of how the admissions process in US universities work. This is only the tip of the iceberg though, for helpful tips and more information on how to get in and how to choose colleges (personalized for Nepali students), find our article here

If you want to get more counselling help you can go to USEF Nepal’s website here. 

All of this may be intimidating for you now, but as you research more and work more, you will definitely reach your dream of studying is the US.  Best of luck! 

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