Equipping matrics for foreign futures

2019-06-04 06:00
Prospective applicants to foreign universities attended a talk by Crimson Education at The Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday 30 May. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Prospective applicants to foreign universities attended a talk by Crimson Education at The Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday 30 May. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Matrics who want to study in the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) next year need to start preparing for their applications now, says Rebecca Pretorius, country manager for Crimson Education, who conducted a talk for prospective applicants at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands on Wednesday 29 May.

“When it comes to applying to study in the USA or UK you should ideally give your application an 18-month lead time,” says Pretorius. Pretorius breaks down the admissions roadmap for US/UK admissions in 2020, for those who haven’t started yet:

. May to September – Familiarise yourself with the application process and the universities you want to apply to. You should have a good idea of the various financing, accommodation and deadline requirements for each of your shortlisted universities.

. June to December – Start preparing for the required admission tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test, more commonly known as the SAT, for the USA, this is throughout the year. Programme and/or university admission tests for the UK run annually from July to October.

. July to September – Prepare for October/November applications. Contact teachers and counsellors for reference letters. Give yourself enough time to write, edit and proofread your application and essays before sending them through.

. November to January 2020 – Prepare for personal/video interviews which take place between January and March. You should start hearing back from universities during this time. Make your decision as soon as you possibly can.

. May 2020 to July 2020 – Search for possible scholarships and student loan options if necessary. Gather your paperwork for a student visa and apply as soon as you can.

. July 2020 to August 2020 – Book your flights, arrange for an international debit/credit card and photocopy all important documentation before you set off.

Joining Pretorius was former admissions officer at Dartmouth University, in New Hampshire, USA.

He was on board to share a few pearls of wisdom with potential applicants and their parents hoping to secure successful applications at elite foreign universities.

“The first and most important thing is that it is a big challenge to apply to USA schools. The process is totally different. American students have been preparing for this their whole life up until that point and when a student here has maybe just begun to think about it in Grade 11 or Grade 12, it gets challenging,” he says.

Schwartz adds the process is very nuanced, with no specific formula, but that generally, the criteria for selection can be narrowed down to four key areas: academics, intellectual qualities, extracurricular impact and personal qualities.

“Personal qualities is not about personality, but rather the perseverance. The ability of the student to be self-aware and socially aware.

“We want a combination of these four things in there, starting with the academic strength, an interest in learning about the world with that intellectual curiosity and interest in contributing their knowledge to activities to the community around them through their extracurricular involvement and certainly a sense of those personal qualities that they have – a certain intangible skill set which will propel them to success in the future,” says Schwartz.

He says it helps if students present themselves as authentically as possible.

“This is not a process of becoming someone who they think we want them to be. Students should push themselves to think big and should develop themselves and the skills which are important in their community. Whatever those skills are, that is what we want to hear about,” he says.

While applications are considered in the context of where they are from, Schwartz says there is no formula, but that prospective applicants should not narrow their choices to only the most elite tertiary institutions available.

“The key is having a list of schools you applied to which is balanced. If you’re just applying to the Harvard, Yale’s or Princeton who admit just 5% or less, then there’s nothing that I can say that can allay the reality that there is a 95% chance that they will get rejection letters from each of them,” he says, adding, “if you look at the great opportunities across the US, where I am from, there are over 4 000 institutions of higher education offering four-year degrees and as such you have 4 000 good options.”

V For more information, visit www.crimsoneducation.org, email southafrica@crimsoneducation.org or join the Crimson Education Facebook community.

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