It’s May, What Should Undergraduate Applicants Be Doing?
“Aaah, the recommendations!” was the exasperated cry of one of my clients at the end of last year. He had worked tirelessly on every part of his application, but had failed to request letters of recommendations from his teachers. By mid-December his teachers were swamped with requests and wouldn’t be able to give the letters their full attention. This is just one example of why, if you are planning to apply to college abroad for admission in 2013, you should understand the steps involved and when to execute. Below are a few things for class 12 students to remember as they start planning the application process.
Start early with required standardized tests. If you have not taken the SAT and ACT you should be actively studying now. The SAT II can wait until October or November. Your test scores, combined with your grades and board exam results, can often determine where you will be able to apply. I had a student last year who made a 3rd attempt at the SAT in December, so by the time she got her improved results it was too late for her to apply to more competitive programs than she had originally planned. Getting the testing out of the way will make it easier for you to chart out campus visits, plan essays topics and other requirements. So start early and try to do your best the first time.
During the summer holiday research colleges and programs that are right for you. Several factors will help you decide where to apply. Of course exams and test scores will matter, but you will also have to consider campus environment, people, opportunities and courses of study. Also asses your risk appetite – do you want to play it safe with friends nearby? Or are you looking for an adventure? If you can, visit the campus, but if you cannot, there are great resources beyond the university’s homepage: e.g. listen to college podcasts, click on the latest news links, watch admissions video clips, ‘like’ the college Facebook page and subscribe to email newsfeeds. Finally, there are great colleges with programs that might be perfect for your interests, but may not lead in published rankings. Often these colleges actively recruit international students with competitive admissions offers. Keep an open mind.
Finally, think about the teachers who can best represent your strengths to the college. Strengths can mean your academic abilities, but also your personal growth, or ability to overcome adversity. And if you need to explain something in your academic record (e.g. your performance suffered due to illness), it is always best to ask a recommender who can relate the incident appropriately.
These are just three things you should be thinking about now. Time will fly over the next six months while the applications are due and you will be busy with exams, projects and other 12th grade priorities. The best way handle the stress is to be organized.
Finally, stay in touch with your school’s counselor who will focus on important deadlines specific to your school. If your school does not have counseling facilities get in touch with country specific education offices and websites who offer excellent guidance and resources for planning often free of cost. These resources and other helpful planning tools are listed below:
Government sponsored help and information
Other planning tools