Seven Steps to Pre­pare a Univer­sity Ap­pli­ca­tion

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education Supplement - Ros­selin Soend­jojo and Robyn Combes Ros­selin Soend­jojo works as an ad­mis­sions coun­selor at Seko­lah Pelita Hara­pan; Robyn Combes is the univer­sity guid­ance co­or­di­na­tor for Seko­lah Pelita Hara­pan Schools.

Think­ing about ap­ply­ing to univer­sity can be scary and ex­cit­ing at the same time. The ear­lier you plan, the less stressed you will be.

1. Be­gin with ca­reer plan­ning.

Choos­ing a ca­reer means choos­ing a ma­jor. It is im­por­tant to choose wisely. Go to a ca­reer cen­ter, con­sult with a ca­reer coun­selor. Know your strengths, pas­sions and in­ter­ests. Take on­line per­son­al­ity tests, such as My­ers Briggs or 16per­son­al­i­ties.com. Talk to peo­ple in your field of in­ter­est. Take free on­line cour­ses to get the feel of the con­tent of the de­gree. Cre­ate a goal of how you want to see your­self in the fu­ture. Join dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties that are rel­e­vant to your in­ter­ests. Con­sider whether the ma­jor and ca­reer are ap­pli­ca­ble to the place where you want to set­tle down.

2. Univer­sity search.

When search­ing for a univer­sity, check the en­try re­quire­ments: what are the re­quire­ments for A-Lev­els or IB tests, or high-school grades?. Make a list of re­al­is­tic univer­sity op­tions based on your score, but also ap­ply for your de­sired univer­sity. Check the lo­ca­tion and cli­mate of the univer­sity. Check the type of uni­ver­si­ties avail­able. Some stu­dents pre­fer to go to pri­vate schools over public schools. Some pre­fer to go to re­li­gious schools like Je­suit schools or Chris­tian schools. Read the vi­sions and mis­sions of the schools. It will de­ter­mine how they pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices for their stu­dents. Read stu­dent reviews and gauge stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion with the univer­sity. Apart from search­ing for uni­ver­si­ties on­line (vir­tual tours), make sure you also visit a range of univer­sity fairs. This will give you the chance to meet up with the ad­mis­sions teams and even alumni from your prospec­tive uni­ver­si­ties, and ex­pose you to a wide range of op­tions.

3. Learn about the pro­gram.

Check the pro­gram that you want to ap­ply to at each univer­sity. Ev­ery univer­sity is strong in dif­fer­ent pro­grams. Some­times, although the uni­ver­si­ties are well-known, they might not be known for the pro­gram that you are think­ing of ap­ply­ing for. Learn about the pro­fes­sors on the pro­gram - where they grad­u­ated from, their work and publi­ca­tions. Ask for the syl­labus and the course con­tent for the pro­gram. Check how the stu­dents are as­sessed. Some will have to do a cap­stone project, some will as­sess heav­ily on writ­ing, and some will be heavy on test­ing. Con­sider if the pro­gram comes with an in­tern­ship, or practicum time, or lab time. This will help you to de­cide which pro­gram is best suited for you.

4. Write a good es­say.

A good es­say is one of the keys to ac­ing univer­sity en­trance. Write some­thing that is true and per­sonal. It is im­por­tant to show how the pro­gram of the univer­sity is the right fit for you, and how it will be ben­e­fi­cial af­ter you grad­u­ate. Be­gin the es­say with an anec­dote. Use spell check. The con­tent should be con­cise and suc­cinct. Pay at­ten­tion to the style and for­mat of your writ­ing. Write it in a way that doesn’t look like a job ap­pli­ca­tion.

5. Reg­is­ter to join SAT/TOEFL/AP/ IELTS.

Check the test re­quire­ment for each univer­sity that you in­tend to ap­ply to. They re­quire dif­fer­ent scores and types of tests. Take the prac­tice test on­line. Pur­chase a prac­tice book to help you re­view your weak ar­eas. Time your­self. Take prep cour­ses that will help you to come up with strate­gies to get your de­sired score. Make sure you read the in­struc­tions prop­erly on the univer­sity web­site. In­put the univer­sity ad­dress. Pre­pare the fee for the test; it is costly. For the SAT, some stu­dents will take the sub­ject test to show their strengths on a spe­cific sub­ject. If tak­ing the SAT, it is help­ful to reg­is­ter with the Col­lege Board Search Ser­vice to re­ceive the right in­for­ma­tion about dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties for which you are el­i­gi­ble.

6. Fi­nan­cial plan.

Study­ing over­seas re­quires good and care­ful fi­nan­cial plan­ning. It is costly. Check the es­ti­mated nec­es­sary fi­nances on the school web­site. Dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties might have dif­fer­ent es­ti­ma­tions. Smaller cities are usu­ally a lot cheaper than big cities. If fi­nances are hin­der­ing your ap­pli­ca­tion, ap­ply for fi­nan­cial aid. There are many kinds of fi­nan­cial aid avail­able that can be help­ful to re­duce your univer­sity costs. At most uni­ver­si­ties, there are not many full schol­ar­ships of­fered; how­ever, some­times uni­ver­si­ties of­fer merit grants, and some have pri­vate funds. Some peo­ple, in or­der to re­duce costs, go to com­mu­nity col­lege for the first two years and then trans­fer to univer­sity. In In­done­sia one very help­ful form of govern­ment sup­port is through LPDP. Check it out! In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Aid and Col­lege Schol­ar­ship Search are also good plat­forms for world­wide schol­ar­ship fund­ing.

7. Take ad­van­tage of sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties.

Once you have fig­ured out your course pro­gram at a few in­tended uni­ver­si­ties, ap­ply to take cour­ses over the sum­mer. This will help you to get a sneak peek at what is it like to study there. Ap­ply­ing for a sum­mer pro­gram takes quite a lot of prepa­ra­tion, in­clud­ing teach­ers’ rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters, writ­ing es­says and school tran­scripts, and some also re­quire a TOEFL score. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the school ear­lier will help you to be more de­ci­sive if all the op­tions are in your hand. Sum­mer pro­grams will also al­low you to con­sider hous­ing and trans­porta­tion op­tions. Other than sum­mer pro­grams, you might want to con­sider tak­ing in­tern­ships or mis­sion trips. This will help you to get a hands-on idea of what your in­tended field looks like in prac­tice.

Th­ese are some essen­tial steps that you need to keep in mind. It is also im­por­tant to main­tain good aca­demic grades while you are in school, join as many so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties as pos­si­ble and take as many lead­er­ship po­si­tions as you can. There might be more things that you can do to be even bet­ter pre­pared for univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions. Re­mem­ber! It’s never too early to plan.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Seko­lah Pelita Hara­pan Schools

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