AP­PLY­ING TO UNI­VER­SI­TIES ACROSS THE GLOBE

Qatar Today - - EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT -

STU­DENTS AT ACS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL SCHOOLS, WHICH HAS THREE CAM­PUSES IN THE UK AND ONE IN DOHA, GRAD­U­ATE TO UNI­VER­SI­TIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. LAST YEAR’S CO­HORT WILL NOW BE START­ING THEIR FRESHER YEAR AT HIGHER ED­U­CA­TION ES­TAB­LISH­MENTS IN QATAR, AS WELL AS AR­GENTINA, AUS­TRALIA, CANADA, JA­PAN, THE NETHER­LANDS, RUS­SIA, SPAIN, THE UK AND THE US, TO NAME JUST A FEW.

Re­search con­ducted by ACS In­ter­na­tional Schools into the fu­ture path­ways of its alumni re­vealed that al­most all re­spon­dents felt that their in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion had pre­pared them well for higher ed­u­ca­tion:

“My aca­demic time at ACS was the best pos­si­ble launch­ing pad for my fu­ture aca­demic ca­reer. By the time I left ACS, I was so sig­nif­i­cantly fur­ther ahead, it put me at the fore­front of con­sid­er­a­tion with ev­ery col­lege and univer­sity I ap­plied to.”

“The ed­u­ca­tion that I re­ceived at ACS pre­pared me to ex­cel in my aca­demic pur­suits in high school and univer­sity. The small class sizes and en­gaged fac­ulty pro­vided an en­vi­ron­ment that fos­tered my learn­ing be­yond most ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.”

In­ter­na­tional schools are highly ex­pe­ri­enced in help­ing stu­dents ap­ply to uni­ver­si­ties around the world and foster an en­vi­ron­ment where it is rou­tine to con­sider global choices. At ACS, stu­dents aged 16 to 18 are sup­ported by the school’s ded­i­cated ‘univer­sity and col­lege coun­sel­lors’, whose role is specif­i­cally to sup­port stu­dents with their study skills and univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions. Many of the school’s coun­sel­lors have lived and worked in other coun­tries, and most have worked within a univer­sity. Here are some of their in­sights stu­dents could con­sider when ap­ply­ing to uni­ver­si­ties around the world.

What are top uni­ver­si­ties look­ing for?

Top uni­ver­si­ties are look­ing for stu­dents to demon­strate key at­tributes such as an abil­ity to think and work in­de­pen­dently, a real pas­sion for their cho­sen sub­ject, and a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards study. Re­search con­ducted by ACS amongst UK univer­sity ad­mis­sions of­fi­cers re­vealed these traits are un­doubt­edly universal, but there are also some im­por­tant dif­fer­ences in what uni­ver­si­ties in dif­fer­ent coun­tries look for. Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, for ex­am­ple, re­ally value an en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set and an abil­ity to work well in groups. Yet, most im­por­tantly, it is im­per­a­tive that stu­dents think first about their own needs and learn­ing styles when choos­ing a univer­sity.

Short­list­ing po­ten­tial uni­ver­si­ties

When short­list­ing po­ten­tial uni­ver­si­ties, stu­dents should first find out how cour­ses and mod­ules are de­liv­ered and whether it will suit their learn­ing style. For in­stance, some uni­ver­si­ties de­liver all their learn­ing through lec­tures to 300 - 400 stu­dents, while oth­ers will opt for tu­to­ri­als in small groups. Uni­ver­si­ties also dif­fer in the num­ber of con­tact hours each stu­dent re­ceives with the teach­ing staff dur­ing a week, and some stu­dents might value in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion more than gen­eral lec­tures.

Once stu­dents have iden­ti­fied whether a univer­sity fits their learn­ing style, there are other practicalities to take into con­sid­er­a­tion, e.g., how big is the cam­pus? Ex­tro­verts may thrive in a large univer­sity while introverts might pre­fer a smaller cam­pus set­ting. Are the right cour­ses of­fered in the ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage? An in­creas­ing num­ber of Euro­pean uni­ver­si­ties of­fer all their cour­ses in English, such as the lead­ing Dutch uni­ver­si­ties, while many sci­ence and med­i­cal cour­ses in Eastern Europe are of­fered in English.

Ge­og­ra­phy should also be taken into ac­count; it might be im­por­tant for some stu­dents to have quick ac­cess to fam­ily and friends and for some, even the weather might make a dif­fer­ence. Some peo­ple will like the ex­treme win­ter weather ex­pe­ri­enced in Boston, for ex­am­ple, while oth­ers will pre­fer to know that they will be study­ing in the year-round sun­shine of the Gulf.

Re­flect­ing on what stu­dents wish to gain from their time at univer­sity is es­sen­tial as this will change depend­ing on the univer­sity and coun­try. Most US uni­ver­si­ties will guar­an­tee ac­com­mo­da­tion on cam­pus for ev­ery year of study, but stu­dents are ex­pected to im­merse them­selves fully in col­lege life. Con­trast this with Qatar and many uni­ver­si­ties in Euro­pean cities where a more ‘open’, less in­tense cam­pus ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­pe­ri­enced. Sim­i­larly, if stu­dents do not yet have a clear idea of a ca­reer path or pro­fes­sion, they may pre­fer higher ed­u­ca­tion in a coun­try that en­cour­ages a trial of dif­fer­ent sub­jects be­fore com­mit­ting fully.

Ap­pli­ca­tions

Once stu­dents have done their short­list­ing, it is time to con­sider the ap­pli­ca­tion process. Few coun­tries of­fer a cen­tralised sys­tem like the UK Univer­sity and Col­leges Ad­mis­sions Ser­vice (UCAS), so it is im­por­tant to check how univer­sity ad­mis­sions work for each coun­try.

In the US, France, Ger­many and Spain can­di­dates ap­ply to each univer­sity in­di­vid­u­ally and could, in the­ory, ap­ply to as many uni­ver­si­ties as they wish. Ideally, ap­pli­cants should nar­row down their choices to around six uni­ver­si­ties. It’s also im­por­tant to be aware that the ap­pli­ca­tion cy­cle has shifted in coun­tries such as Aus­tralia and Ja­pan where the aca­demic year starts in Jan­uary.

In the US, be­cause ap­pli­ca­tions are de­cen­tralised, most schools ad­vise their stu­dents to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions by Novem­ber, and reg­u­lar of­fers are made in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary. The de­ci­sion dead­line in the US when you must com­mit to a univer­sity is typ­i­cally May 1, when your de­posit for ac­com­mo­da­tion and tu­ition fees for the fol­low­ing year is re­quired

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