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  • Writer's picturePano Education

The Great Battle of Studying in the United States : Impeccable Preparation Tips

Updated: May 30

🎊Congratulations on your admissions offer! 


While it is important to take time to relax and celebrate now that the admissions process is mostly over, it is also critical that you plan your next steps in order to have a smooth transition into studying in the United States. Here are some next steps you need to take after receiving your admission offer(s)! 



Accepting your offer and paying enrollment deposit


Accepting an admission offer

👉The first step to take after you have decided on which college you want to attend is to log into your applicant and accept the offer.

Acceptance Decision

You should find a link that takes you to an acceptance or enrollment form (as shown in example above). Please accept your offer at the university. Once you accept the offer, you’re officially a member of their community! 


After you accept the offer of admission, please decline your offers from all other institutions. Note that you do not need to accept the offer as soon as you receive it. If you were admitted Early Action or Regular Decision, you may wait until May 1st to accept your offer. If you were admitted Early Decision or Early Decision 2, you are bound by contract to accept the offer; ED/ED2 admits are encouraged to accept their offers as soon as they receive them and withdraw all their other applications upon notification of their acceptance to the ED institution. 


Please do not accept offers from more than one university. Doing so is in violation of the academic honor code, and may put your high school’s reputation in jeopardy.



Paying enrollment deposit


Before colleges confirm your spot in the incoming class, you will be asked to pay an enrollment deposit. The amount of the enrollment deposit usually varies depending on the institution, but it is usually around $100-$500 USD. Generally, the deposit must be received in order to access housing applications, visa application forms etc.  The deposit can usually be made via credit card (shown below) or bank wire. 


Payment Information

Note that the enrollment deposit is usually non-refundable, and you will not be able to get it back should there be any changes or issues in the future (eg. if you decide to take a waitlist offer, encounter issues with your visa applications, or other unforeseen circumstances.)


The enrollment deposit is also different from the first semester/quarter’s tuition, which will be billed to you at a later date, usually in the summer. 



For waitlisted applicants


Some of you may still be waiting for waitlist decisions to come out (they usually get released between early May to late July), and may be wondering what you need to do. We advise you to first accept your offer from a school you’ve already been admitted to and pay the enrollment deposit. If you are to be accepted off the waitlist of a school you prefer, you may accept the waitlist offer, pay the deposit to your new institution, and inform the original institution of your intention to withdraw. In this case, you will lose the deposit fee you paid to your original institution. 

Withdraw/declining your other offers


After you have accepted your admission offer and paid the deposit, please decline your offers from other colleges. You may do so through the same process as accepting your offer (except this time you are choosing the other option). Some universities may prompt you to disclose why you turned down the offer; in that case, you may let them know that you have chosen to attend another school. 


If you are admitted to a school ED or EA (and you are already certain you’d be attending) and other admission results are not yet, please withdraw your application to the university. You may do so through the applicant portal (shown below.)

Account Tools


Sending transcripts and official scores


👉Sending official SAT scores:

  • If you included your SAT scores for consideration when you applied, but did not send the official score report when applying (you self-reported your scores), you may now send your official scores through collegeboard. 

  • If you are not familiar with how to send scores, you may refer to the “Sending your official SAT scores” worksheet.

  • If you have already sent official SAT scores via College Board when you applied, you may skip this step. 

👉Sending official TOEFL or IELTS scores

  • If you included your TOEFL or IELTS scores for consideration when you applied, but did not send the official score report when applying (you self-reported your scores), you may now send your official scores through ETS or British Council. 

  • If you are not familiar with how to send scores, you may refer to the “Sending your official TOEFL scores” or the “Sending your official IELTS scores” worksheets.

  • If you have already sent official SAT scores via College Board when you applied, you may skip this step. 



Sending official transcripts


Make sure to remind your high school counselor to send your official year-end transcript before the semester ends. They only need to send your official year-end transcript to the institution you plan to attend. Most colleges require this in order to successfully process your enrollment! 


  • Sending AP scores In July, when you receive your scores of your G12 AP exams, you may send all your AP scores together through the College Board. If you are unsure how to do so, you may refer to the ‘Sending AP scores’ worksheet.


  • Sending IB scores If you are an IB student, your school should be able to handle the score sending process of your official IB tests. You just need to check your student portal regularly and confirm your college’s receipt of those scores.



Applying for your student visa


👉As an incoming university student, you will be applying for the F-1 visa to study in the USA. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The F1 visa is valid for 5 years from the date of issuance

  • Usually, it takes around 2 month to apply

  • All ages are eligible to apply

  • The F1 is not an employment visa; it will not allow you to work in the US

  • To apply for the F1 visa, you will be issued an I-20 form by your Designated School Official DSO (aka your college). If you are an international student, information about how to obtain the I-20 should be provided on the school portal. You may also contact the International Student Services Office for more information. 

  • Your I-20 form should contain a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) ID. You will need this ID to process your F1 visa application.

  • You can apply for the F1 visa up to 3 months before the beginning of the school year. Please do not procrastinate on the application process so as to not risk any delays that may cause you to miss the beginning of school. The start of school date should be available for reference on the issued I-20. 

  • The F1 visa allows you to enter the US 30 days prior to the start of the school year. If you are scheduling flights, be sure to keep this in mine. 

👉Before you start the F1 application, prepare the following items:

  • A passport with 6+ months validity

  • 2 inch*2 inch (51mm*51mm) headshot 

  • Proof of finance (PANO students should have this in their folders already)

  • Copies of all past passports (if applicable)

  • Valid I-20 form with your personal information and university signature


👉Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your F1 visa:

  1. Obtain the I-20 form from your university and provide your signature after confirming all the information filled. If the college didn’t ask you for a proof of finance during the application phase, they will ask you to provide it at this time in order to provide an I-20.

  2. Fill out the DS-160 Form. This is the application for a Non-immigrant visa to the US. (est. 40-60 min to complete). Print the confirmation page (you will need this for the interview.) 

  3. Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee (USD $350). This is the processing fee for your F1 visa; paying this fee will also register you into the SEVIS system. Pay this before your visa interview. Once paid, print the confirmation page. 

  4. Schedule your visa interview and process the fee.

a. For students based in Taiwan: Schedule an interview at the AIT 

b. For students not based in Taiwan: Schedule an interview at the local US embassy or consulate. You may do so online or via phone.

5. Attend the visa interview (est. 10 min) 

a. The US discourages international student immigration. Even if you or your family has plans to immigrate, please do not bring this up. 

b. Answer all questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge

c. Be polite and respectful! 


*Note that if you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need to apply for the F-1 visa. Instead, you will be granted F1 status when you enter the USA. Therefore, you will still need the I-20 form and pay the SEVIS fee. For more information: https://ca.usembassy.gov/visas/canadian-students/



Joining social media groups for admitted students


Most colleges will have official groups for admitted students on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Search around on those platforms to connect with your future peers! These groups usually go by the format ‘[UNIVERSITY NAME] Class of 20xx.’


Many alumni groups also host welcome events for new students in their local area. They should be contacting you via either your university email or the email registered on the application. We encourage you to attend! 



Apply for Housing


It is recommended that students stay in on-campus housing such as dorms for at least their first year of college. Housing applications usually open up late spring/early summer. Here are some things you can do beforehand:


  • Research available housing and rank your top 3-5 choices. Information on available housing should all be available on the college’s website. Some schools have specialized housing for international students and/or students with living preferences (eg. all female/male dorms, substance free dorms). You may choose to opt into those housing if available. Most universities will allow you to list up to 3 choices in order of preference. 

  • Find a suitable housemate: if you have friends or highschool peers attending the same college, you may choose to apply for housing with them. Otherwise, you may also try to meet new friends via the social media groups and get to know potential roommates beforehand! 

  • Apply for housing! Make sure to apply as early as possible (recommend you do so as soon as the application opens) in order to secure your dorms of preference. 


Vaccinations


Most US universities will have vaccination requirements for their incoming students. Here are some common vaccinations you would need to study in the US (note that you may be required to get these vaccines to receive your F1 visa, thus it is recommended that you get vaccinated and/or check your vaccination records ahead of time):

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Influenza

  • Influenza type b (Hib)

  • Measles

  • Meningococcal

  • Mumps

  • Pneumococcal

  • Pertussis

  • Polio

  • Rotavirus

  • Rubella

  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids

  • Varicella

  • COVID-19


Make sure you have your vaccination records handy when checking which vaccinations you might be missing! In case you do not keep records or could not find the details of vaccines you took in the past, you may take a titre test to prove that you are immune to the disease. 


Note that different states or specific colleges may have additional vaccination requirements to study there. Please check with your college through your student portal or their official website to confirm what vaccinations you may need. 



Getting a driver's license and state ID

International students are eligible to apply for a US driver’s license and state ID (in most states) once they receive their F1 visa. Applying for these forms of ID is a good way to not have to bring your passport around all the time. 


To apply, you will need to make an appointment with your local DMV and provide all necessary supporting documentation. You may refer to this guide by the SEVIS program to confirm the necessary steps. 



Opening a bank account


We recommend you open an account at a bank that is most accessible and convenient for you. This generally means a bank with ATMs, a kiosk, or a physical location near or within your university campus. 


Here are the most common banks in the US:

  • Bank of America

  • Wells Fargo

  • HSBC USA

  • U.S. Bank

  • TD Bank

  • Capital One

  • Santander

  • Chase


In general, to open a US bank account, you will need the following:

  • Your passport, with the relevant student visa,

  • A second form of photo ID - often a driver’s license or your student card,

  • Proof of residence and residential address (dorm) 

  • Proof of enrollment in your university (which is why the student card works so well), and

  • Some money to deposit (keep in mind that each bank and account will carry its own minimum deposit).

  • The registrar’s office will provide you with your student ID or confirmation letter which you’ll definitely need to open an international student bank account.

  • If you’re living on-campus, you may also need to contact the housing department for proof of residence.

  • The international student office is likely to point you towards the most accessible banks and perhaps even assist with opening international student accounts when you need a native speaker (such as in France).



Phone Plans


Some students and families may prefer to open SIM card roaming services from their country of origin. However, since you will be relocating to the US at least for the next 3-5 years, it might make sense to consider getting a local US SIM card. 


Here are some of the biggest telecom providers in the US:

  • Verizon 

  • AT&T

  • Sprint

  • T-Mobile


Most of them offer multiple plans to choose from:

  1. A prepaid plan

  2. have slightly higher rates on outgoing calls, messaging but do not require a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or a hefty deposit

  3. A two year contract 

  4. require a two-year contract commitment as well as a SSN for identity and credit check purposes

  5. A large deposit that will be refunded after twelve months of good standing 

  6. Family plans

  7. Family plans allow up to five lines to be on the same contract 

  8. Family plans are inexpensive if you know multiple individuals signing up for a contract plan.

With your parents, you may determine which telecom provider and plan fits you the best. You may simply visit any telecom provider store to set up the phone plan! Similar to opening a bank account, make sure you bring your identifications when getting your phone plan! 


 

Congratulations on receiving your admission letter from an American university! While celebrating this achievement, don't forget to complete the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth transition into college life. From accepting your admission offer to applying for a visa, from choosing accommodation to opening a bank account, each step is a crucial foundation for your new life. Wishing you a seamless journey ahead and an exciting college experience filled with endless possibilities!





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