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How to Apply to Film School

Like American students, international students will be busy preparing the many documents, school transcripts, essays, and test scores needed to get into a U.S. film school. Begin preparing at least a year in advance, as deadlines approach rapidly. Remember, international students may need additional documents that American students do not, such as a student visa or English proficiency test scores.

If you're an international student interested in applying to film schools in the U.S., there's a lot you need to know and research. Applying for college is a big deal and a daunting task. Students need good grades both during their high school and secondary studies and on standardized tests. They also need to be well rounded, involved in community service, clubs and sports. To get into a good college, you have to be the total package, and applying to film school is no exception. So how do you start applying to film schools in the U.S.?

First, do a lot of research. The U.S. is a big country with many different geographical regions, climates and cultures and hundreds of colleges and universities. Since you've chosen to study film, the primary areas you want to research for schools are Florida, southern California and New York City. Florida offers schools with well-developed film programs such as Florida State University's Film School, and University of Central Florida's Film Program. Or, take a look at film schools in California like the University of Southern California, California State University of California, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of California Los Angeles. In New York City, you may want to research New York University, Colombia University, Syracuse University and Ithaca Film School. If you choose not to go to California or New York, try some other artistic schools like Savannah School of Art & Design (SCAD). Anywhere with a good film program will give you a great learning experience; however, Florida, Southern California and New York City have the benefit of major film studios and professionals working in the surrounding region, along with professors who are actively participating in the industry. When looking at film schools in the U.S., take into consideration the student-to-professor ratio and class size, as well as student body size. Living costs of the area and the dormitory situation should also be concerns you have. Transportation is another issue to consider. Is it a city with public transportation? Will you need a car? Does the university or college provide buses?

After researching what kind of film school in the U.S. you would like to attend, take a look at their admission process. The admission process is very lengthy. There are many important deadlines you have to meet. These deadlines can occur within a year before you plan to attend the college. Early deadlines can sometimes occur, which aren't mandatory, but offer you a better chance at being accepted since fewer students apply early. Look for these deadlines to ensure yourself a better likelihood of being accepted.

Many college and university applications require a lot of paperwork you have to fill out, which sometimes have to be notarized, and transcripts sometimes have to be submitted. Allow time for these documents to be gathered and mailed.

Along with the paperwork, college essays are required. They are much like a job interview, asking questions like what can you do for the college and what was a time you showed leadership. These essays must be error free, well written and creative.

In addition to applying for the college or university, you also have to apply for the film school within the college or university. This requires more paperwork and more essays. For example, in order to get into the University of Southern California's School of Cinema Arts in the Film and Television Program, you must supply the university with a Cinematic Arts Personal Statement, a writing sample, a visual sample such as a video or photo, a portfolio list, three letters of recommendation, high school transcripts and TOEFL test scores. This is all in addition to the university's regular application.

When applying to film schools in the U.S., make sure to do your research to ensure you go to a university or college you will like, with the film program you're looking for. Look out for deadlines and start gathering the required materials for your chosen school a year before you want to attend. The requirements can be found on school websites or by calling an admissions counselor – they're typically happy to answer any questions for you.

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