Blog 🍎 School 23rd April 2024

Navigating the US University Admissions System with Expert Insights

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Rebecca Hambery Schools Content Writer

BridgeU is the all-in-one university and careers guidance platform designed to help international school counsellors manage their guidance programmes and simplify the university application process. 

This year, we’re running our Global Guidance series to provide international school counsellors with up-to-date information about university admissions, specifically for international students. 

To give you an idea of what you can expect each month, we’re recapping our latest event below, including some video snippets so you can hear directly from universities in the US. We were joined by representatives from the University of Connecticut, the Catholic University of America, and Syracuse University to discuss US admissions procedures, requirements, and practices.

Keep reading for valuable insights into the complex process of applying to American universities for international students.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University is based in New York and has ten undergraduate schools and colleges. When a student applies to Syracuse, they apply directly to one of the ten schools or colleges. Their colleges consist of:

  • School of Architecture
  • Collage of Arts & Sciences*
  • Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs*
  • School of Education
  • College of Engineering and Computer Science*
  • Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics*
  • School of Information Studies*
  • Whitman School of Management*
  • Newhouse School of Public Communications*
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts

*Students can apply as undecided to these colleges.


Syracuse reviews applications holistically; however, they require at least a 3.0 GPA. For the more competitive programmes, such as their School of Architecture, they’re looking for a 3.7 or above.


November 15th: Early Decision I 

This is recommended for students who know Syracuse is their first choice and they usually admit a third of their class through the early decision I round.

January 5th: Early Decision II 

This is recommended for students who have changed their minds or didn’t get into their first choice early decision.

January 5th: Regular Decision 

This is where the remaining two-thirds of the class are admitted.

Required application materials

“We are looking at potential leadership through extracurriculars. This is a good way for us to evaluate students on scholarship as well, through any potential leadership they have or how they engage themselves in their community.”

In addition to this, some students will need to submit a portfolio. A good example is their architecture programme, where not only does the student’s application need to be strong academically, but they also have to submit a good portfolio. 

It’s important to note that portfolios and auditions aren’t evaluated by the admissions staff but by the schools and colleges themselves.

Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America was founded in 1887 as the second oldest graduate research university in the US, behind John Hopkins. The university is also the national university of the Catholic Church, although students don’t need to be Catholic to attend. 

They currently have students from 33 different countries attending university here, with over 400 international students from over 80 countries on campus. The Catholic University of America has 12 schools, with 9 of them being undergraduate schools, and 34 on-campus research centres. The undergraduate schools consist of:

  • Architecture & Planning
  • Arts & Sciences
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Music, Drama & Art
  • Nursing
  • Philosophy
  • Social Service
  • Theology and Religious Studies

They provide over 70 undergraduate programmes, 60 minors and certificate programmes, 4 pre-professional programmes, and first-year experience. 

Additionally, they have an International Student Service Centre available to help international students make the transition to university. Not just academically but also to help students adjust to moving to a new country and learn about the culture. 

Application deadlines

“Students always underestimate the time it takes to make a transition, especially if they’re international students and there is additional paperwork that they have to provide. We always encourage students, if they think the strength of their academic credentials makes them competitive for our Early Action Deadline, to apply through Early Action. In fact, most international students do apply through our Early Action Deadline.”

August 1st: Application opens

October 7th: Open house

November 1st: Early Action and Early Decision I application deadline

November 12th: Open house

Mid-December: Decisions released

February 1st: Regular Deadline and Early Decision II application deadline

February 17th: Cardinal Preview Day

Mid-March: Decisions released

April 5th: Cardinal Preview Day

May 1st: Enrollment deadline

Materials and evaluation

The Catholic University of America has very similar application materials to Syracuse, and you’ll see this theme across most of the universities in the US. 

Students are required to submit their applications through the Common App, meaning they’ll also need to write a Common App essay. The university has test-free admissions meaning they don’t take the SAT or ACT into consideration during the application process. Although, if they’re accepted, students can send their test scores in to help with course placement.

For certain majors, students will need to submit supplemental materials, such as a portfolio for an arts programme or an audition video for music students. They also provide optional interviews so potential students can ensure the university is the right fit for them.

International student requirements

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut offers over 115 majors across 10 schools and colleges for students to choose from. Their most competitive and popular programmes are Engineering, Biology, Psychology, English & Humanities, Business, and Education. 

Additionally, they also provide opportunities for students to customise their experience. This helps students blend multiple interests into their ideal schedule. 

Many students start at the University of Connecticut with an undecided major so they can explore a bit during their first year. It’s okay for students to start not knowing what they want to do or to explore a lot of options in the beginning, which won’t affect their graduation date. Each student has an advisor to work with who will help guide them through the process of finding and declaring a major.

“We really do believe that it’s more than just the items inside the classroom that make the difference. So regarding what happens after graduation, the return on investment is very important for us as well. We believe that students should be taking part in different hands-on activities to supplement those academic abilities.”

How are applications reviewed?

Similar to the other institutions at this event, the University of Connecticut uses a holistic review process to review university applications. They look at students overall academic performance, looking for any progress or growth.

Additionally, they look for student involvement in their community through volunteering or extracurricular activities. Although they take into account that not every student is presented with the same opportunities or resources.

Application requirements


November 1st: Stamps Scholarship Deadline

November 15th: Application deadline for special programmes in law, medicine, and dental medicine

December 1st: Priority first-year application deadline for merit scholarship and honours consideration

January 15th: Storrs (main campus) application deadline

March 1st: Admission notifications begin

May 1st: Regional campuses’ application deadline

“The biggest thing to remind students and counsellors about is the deadlines. All of the different deadlines can certainly feel confusing, but we’re all here as admissions counsellors to really answer your questions. If you have any specific questions about the application process, we’re happy to sit down and talk you through it. I always encourage students to reach out to us and ask us questions. We love to engage with you as you go through the admissions process.

Access BridgeU’s exclusive events

Global Guidance is a series of virtual events for international school counsellors to learn how to navigate university admissions and services in order to support their students.

Upcoming webinars for the Global Guidance series include:

You can find information about all of BridgeU’s upcoming events and register for the Global Guidance webinars on our events page

To access BridgeU’s exclusive events, like the Bridge2TheFuture series, and tailored support for your guidance programme, reach out to our Education Partnership team below.

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