Student Resources

Submitting A Winning Application

HINT: The university will file all of the correspondence about you by LAST NAME (or FAMILY NAME) and then by FIRST NAME (or GIVEN NAME). It is critical that all correspondence (application, test scores, letters of recommendation) be submitted with your LAST NAME capitalized or underlined and with the spelling and order of your names the same in every document. Many applications have been considered incomplete and not processed because some pieces of correspondence were filed under one name and some under another, for example Tay Wan Chee or Mohammed Abdul Razak for one document and Wan Chee Tay or Abdul Razak for another.

A winning application is one that clearly and neatly provides ALL of the documents requested by the deadline date and gives the admissions office an accurate picture of who you are as a student.

All universities require:

  • University application – each university has its own application form, although there are a group of universities that accept what is known as the Common Application Form. This link will take you to the website of the organization that publishes this form.
  • Application fee – these range from about US$15-$75 and are non-refundable. A few universities will waive the application fee if you are applying for financial aid. In that case, you will be asked to submit a letter from a school counselor.
  • Official transcripts – grades must be provided as original copies from the schools/universities you have attended if at all possible (otherwise provide a certified true copy of the originals), with a translation in English
  • Statement of financial resources – proof that you have the financial resources to attend the institution
  • Proof of English proficiency – this condition is usually met by the results of the TOEFL exam or the IELTS exam, with test results sent to the college or university directly from the testing agency.


More selective universities will also require:

  • Personal essay – this is your opportunity to express yourself in English and to describe yourself/your goals/your background in a way that goes beyond the test scores and transcripts you submit. Essays and personal statements MUST be written by you, though you can ask others to read your drafts and provide comments to help you revise. Click here to read Dodje Johnson's tips for writing the college application essay.
  • Additional standardized test scores – undergraduate students are often asked to submit test scores from the SAT and SAT II; graduate students are often asked to submit scores from the GRE; MBA candidates are usually required to take the GMAT test. Click here for more information about testing.
  • Letters of recommendation – universities generally provide forms for you to give to teachers, professors, or counselors (people who know you and your strengths in a classroom setting) asking for their opinions about you. Business schools, especially, may also be interested in letters from employers focusing on your professional skills and accomplishments.