Plan well to study in the United States

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - HIGHER EDUCATION -

NAV­I­GAT­ING the path to a col­lege or univer­sity in the United States is not easy, con­sid­er­ing there are more than 3,000 col­leges, com­mu­nity col­leges, ca­reer schools and uni­ver­si­ties pro­vid­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion. While the choices are varied, there is no doubt that the US of­fers some of the best uni­ver­si­ties in the world.

The Times’ Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Univer­sity Rank­ing 2012-2013 listed seven Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties out of the top 10 world-class uni­ver­si­ties.

The process of ap­ply­ing to a top US univer­sity can be even more daunt­ing and mind-bog­gling. The Prince­ton Re­view (TPR) is Amer­ica’s largest test prepa­ra­tion com­pany, of­fer­ing cour­ses in more than 500 lo­ca­tions in 21 coun­tries world­wide.

TPR of­fers Ad­mis­sions Coun­selling, and pre­pares stu­dents for the Scholas­tic Ap­ti­tude Test (SAT), SAT Sub­ject Tests, Test of English as a For­eign Lan­guage (TOEFL), Grad­u­ate Man­age­ment Ad­mis­sion Test (GMAT) and Grad­u­ate Record Ex­am­i­na­tions (GRE).

In line with pre­par­ing stu­dents to study in the United States, TPR re­cently or­gan­ised yet another ex­clu­sive event for stu­dents and their par­ents to in­ter­act with an Ivy League univer­sity stu­dent.

Ti­tled “My Amer­i­can Ex­pe­ri­ence”, the ea­ger ap­pli­cants-to-be got up close and per­sonal with one who has “been there, done that”, lis­ten­ing to the shar­ing of the chal­leng­ing yet ex­hil­a­rat­ing jour­ney to a top univer­sity in the United States.

Per­spec­tives on why study in the US, when to start prepa­ra­tions, how to choose the univer­sity that is best for you (and the fam­ily bud­get), what steps are needed in the process, who to go to for help, were all cov­ered as part of the roadmap to ap­ply­ing to an Amer­i­can univer­sity.

While the process is jok­ingly termed as “soul-suck­ing” by some, the key to ad­dress­ing this chal­lenge may be counter-in­tu­itive to Malaysians who just can­not help do­ing things at the last minute: be­gin the re­search early – and con­sider your long-term goals.

Pearls of wis­dom shared

Plan for the tests. When to pre­pare for and take the needed stan­dard­ised tests such as TOEFL, SAT, SAT Sub­ject tests, ACT, GMAT or GRE must be planned ahead of time. Spend suf­fi­cient time pre­par­ing for the tests with test prep guide­books and classes.

Plan when to get let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion. Stu­dents need to es­tab­lish re­la­tion­ships with teach­ers and ad­vi­sors who can write strong let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion for them, not just ask for them at the time when ev­ery­one is do­ing the same.

Plan when to get tran­scripts and do trans­la­tions. Do not wait un­til SPM or O-Level ex­ams are over be­fore get­ting fore­cast re­sults. Fore­cast re­sults or tran­scripts of ac­tual re­sults in Ba­hasa Malaysia also need to be prop­erly and ac­cu­rately trans­lated.

Plan when to pre­pare and edit ap­pli­ca­tion pack­ages and the es­says that go with them. Proper writ­ing skills will make a dif­fer­ence in show­cas­ing the stu­dent’s abil­ity rather than high­light­ing poor writ­ing. Get­ting oth­ers to pe­ruse the writ­ing also lends an ob­jec­tive per­spec­tive, and they too need time to do this.

Get in­volved in some ac­tiv­i­ties, com­mu­nity ser­vice or work ex­pe­ri­ences that will en­able the stu­dents to show their val­ues, tal­ents and skills. It will be too stress­ful for stu­dents try­ing to ac­com­plish too many ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties while study­ing for ma­jor ex­ams as well, so start early and spend the school hol­i­days wisely.

The Gap Year is be­com­ing pop­u­lar for stu­dents who want to thor­oughly ex­plore their op­tions post-high school. This time should be used pro­duc­tively rather than spent bum­ming around at home or just va­ca­tion­ing.

The SAT is an im­por­tant test that is part of the un­der­grad­u­ate ap­pli­ca­tion re­quire­ment for many top uni­ver­si­ties not just in the US, but also Sin­ga­pore and In­dia.

The next SAT prep class by TPR will start on Jan 4. For stu­dents ap­ply­ing for grad­u­ate pro­grammes, GMAT and GRE classes will com­mence on Dec 28.

Be­sides test prep, TPR also pro­vides an overview of study­ing in the US and spe­cific guid­ance on the US ad­mis­sions process.

Last year, TPR helped 3.5 mil­lion stu­dents world­wide re­alise their col­lege dreams with out­stand­ing re­sults.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call 03-7960 9700, e-mail­ or walk in for reg­is­tra­tion at The Prince­ton Re­view, at B11-02, Level 11 Block B East, PJ8, No.23 Jalan Barat, Seksyen 8, Pe­tal­ing Jaya.

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