Applying to College Abroad

Authored by:
Sarah J.

Sarah J.

Moin Moin! 

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted! I wanted to garner a bit more experience on the college application front before writing this blog. Regular decision deadlines are coming up and I’m close to finishing most of my supplemental essays so I figured now would be a good time to write this post. I think I’ll break it up into a few sections…


Writing the Common App Essay:

This is a major part of the college application because it is sent to every university and for most people, it’s hard to come up with a ‘perfect’ idea. I was very worried about this part of the application process because I knew it would take a lot of editing and I wasn’t sure how much effort I would want to put into it while abroad. Luckily, I finished most of it before I left and simply did some last-minute editing while in Germany. I was also worried about experiencing so much while abroad and wanting to change my essay by November. While I did come up with more ideas for my essay, I decided to stick with the idea I had already spent much of the summer working on. I would highly recommend having this almost finished, if not finished by the time you leave for Germany. 


Financial Aid (FAFSA & CSS):

I found this quite difficult to complete while abroad. Collecting financial details from my parents over the phone with an eight-hour time difference was not the most fun experience of my life. Unfortunately, both financial aid forms don’t open until October, so it had to be done this way. I could have avoided most of the trouble I had by talking to my parents before leaving and making sure they knew what was needed to fill out these forms, so I would recommend doing that. Also, make sure you have your own tax information saved! If you had a job before leaving for Germany, you will need your tax information. I had somehow misplaced these forms, and that created a hassle for me. 


Letters of Recommendation:

These are super important!! I found it much better to have asked my teachers for a letter of rec before I left school for the summer. I didn’t want to worry about them forgetting me over the summer or worry about communicating with them from abroad about writing me a letter of rec. Of course, I did have to ask them to actually upload their letters to the common application when it opened, but it was much more simple knowing they had already written them. 



These are pretty time-consuming and tedious—for everyone applying to college, not just those living abroad—so, naturally, I spent a lot of time working on them while in Germany. I didn’t start any of them before I left because the common app didn’t even open until August 1st. I would recommend spacing these out during your first semester in Germany as best as you can, instead of worrying about them all during Christmas break, like I’m currently doing. 


Applying ED, EA, and Regular:

I would highly recommend applying to some universities during one of the early deadlines. This might not be possible for every university, however, I was able to complete four of my nine US applications before Thanksgiving, which has made me WAYYY less stressed and more able to enjoy all the Christmas traditions in Germany. 


Overall, I think applying to university from abroad was much easier than it would have been if I had had to worry about school grades in the US. Since I’ve already graduated, the classes I take in Germany are just to help me learn German and make friends. I think it has been easy to handle if you stay on top of it and don’t forget just because there’s so much excitement going on in Germany. I’d be happy to give advice to any future CBYXers about this process (or anything else!) through my Instagram @s.ara.hj





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