Core 4 Step by Step Approach

By Rajkamal Rao

Go back to Checklist for Core 4 Undergrads

This page is dedicated to undergraduates - that is, those that want to pursue a traditional 4-year US education to get a BA/BS degree.

If you want to pursue our Core 4 route to a 4-year degree, this page is for you. Here's our complete checklist to successfully complete the process.
  1. Review the Why the US pages. In this section we provide a good overview of US Higher Education.  Consider showing this to your parents or other elders who may be skeptical of your ideas to go to the US to study.

  2. Be aware of the challenges faced by international students once they land in the US.  We are not talking about things which are outside of our control here (such as visas, immigration rules and adjusting to extreme weather).  We believe that as more international students seek to go to the US for higher education, they are increasingly getting a bad deal.  They end up making many wrong choices - throughout the admissions process - that will affect them throughout their career.  

  3. Review our primer on US college costs

  4. Review the first four steps of our proprietary Seven-step approach.

    You should be able to understand these concepts well and apply them to your situation.  Go back and review the content in Steps 1 and 2, including all links - we hope that you would be experts in these two steps by the time you are done.

    Review Steps 3 and 4 with a little caution because it is not only hard to predict how market conditions in the US will change but also difficult to select your field when you are just entering college. [We admit that these steps make more sense to our Graduate School friends].  But it is important for you to have a fair idea of what field you want to pursue.  If Biomedicine is your target field, you could make course corrections to pursue Veterinary Science, Biotechnology or Forensics.  But changing to Environmental Engineering may be a stretch and will require you to start from scratch.

  5. Understand more about the tests that you need to take to get in to a US college.  ACT or SAT?  When to take the pSAT?  TOEFL?   Since you are likely going to a 2-year college first, you don't have to be quite as rigorous while executing this step.  Indeed, this is one of the advantages of the Core 4 approach.  If you feel uncomfortable taking the ACT or SAT, check out this list of over 800 schools that make taking these tests optional.

  6. Now it is time to research US colleges.  Your search for colleges should be your desired 4-year college, not the 2-year Community College that you will first enter.  The Community College search will come later.

  7. Complete steps 5, 6 and 7 of our 7-Step approach to finalize your target colleges and strengthen your application. 

  8. Now that you have your list of targeted 4-year colleges, you should build a list of 2-year Community Colleges that have articulation agreements with them. 

    Not all of your 4-year colleges may have articulation agreements with 2-year institutions.  And if you do find a 2-year institution, it may not accept international students.  This step requires a little patience.  You are welcome to contact us to help you but our services will involve a fee

    The best place to start is the American Association of Community Colleges website for transfer information.  This is an excellent list of 4-year colleges which have articulation agreements with feeder institutions.  For example, Bergen Community College, NJ has approved arrangements with an impressive list of universities including New York University, the City University of New York, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University.

  9. Visit the website of each Community College and examine the articulation agreement in detail.  These agreements will specify the lesson plan, schedule of classes by semester, GPA requirements and other rules that you must meet in order to be accepted for a seamless transfer to your desired 4-year college.

    The GPA requirements section needs special attention.  Let's say an articulation agreement requires a minimum standard of a 3.5 GPA at the 2-year college you are considering.  The question is:  Are you capable of maintaining such an average once you land?

    First, you may need to consult a GPA converter or GPA calculator for more information on how to relate to this scale.  A 3.5 GPA roughly translates into 90 percentile - which means that you ought to be in the top 10% of your class. 

    Look at your current academic record in the high school of your home country.  Are you in the top 10% of your class today?  Then, you are likely able to meet a 3.5 GPA standard once you land in the US. 

  10. Redo Steps 5 and 6 of our 7-Step approach to finalize your target 2-year college as this is where you will be landing first. 

  11. The above points will require hard work, patience and guidance from an elder, preferably someone who has gone to the US for higher education.  You are welcome to contact us to help you but our services will involve a fee. Relax, though!  Our fees are modest when compared to the investment you are planning.

  12. Consider visiting an EducationUSA local office (in Bangalore, Yashna Trust).  Visitors to the center receive one free basic advising session during which their background and suitability for education in the USA are examined.  Rather than let the counselor waste your time about the basics, ask him/her specific questions about the steps above. 

    You can also contact us but our services will involve a fee.

  13. If you decide to take the plunge, sign up with ETS to take TOEFL and the College Board to take the pSATs/SATs or the American College Testing organization for ACTs. 

  14. Consider taking Advanced Placement courses and exams.  This step is optional but recommended.

  15. Go to for information about how to complete your application; finance your studies; apply for your student visa; and prepare for your departure.

A Note About Rao Advisors Premium Services

Our promise is to empower you with as much high-quality, ethical and free advice as is possible via this website.  But students often ask us if they can engage with us for individual counseling sessions.

Individual counseling is part of the Premium Offering of Rao Advisors and involves a fee.   We suggest that you review our Note on Premium Services for more information.  Or you may contact us directly for more information about our Premium offering.

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