Seven Steps to Prepare a University Application
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.