The college application process is not so straightforward, especially if you are looking for undergraduate admissions at the top colleges in the US and UK. Additionally, different countries (and universities) have got different processes. I hope this article will help other students (and families) with their college admissions abroad after class 12.
My UC Berkeley Admission Story
College Admissions in US and UK after Class 12
I am Devanshi Rathi from New Delhi, India. I studied at Modern School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi right from nursery until the end of my senior year of high school. I took a range of subjects including Mathematics, Sciences, Social Sciences, English Literature and Language, and Spanish until the culmination of my sophomore year.
In my junior and senior years, I took the Commerce with Business Stream in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Curriculum. At UC Berkeley, I’m currently undeclared but I have a majority of interests specifically in Business, economics, entrepreneurship, and the liberal arts in general. So, that was my basic introduction regarding my current span of education. Now, on to the journey that brought me to Cal! Go Bears!
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My College Application Journey
Let me start off by saying that the process wasn’t easy for me as I was juggling a number of extra-curricular activities along with the college essays. However, nothing good comes easy in life. Hopefully, by the end of your application process, you would realize that it’s all going to happen as it’s supposed to and one must just go with it. You should also make it clear to yourself to work hard constantly and not give up despite the hurdles along the way.
I always wanted to study subjects that would add meaning to my life and experiences. Business and Entrepreneurship have been my calling ever since I can remember. I have always wanted to work on building my own companies. So, I searched for colleges in India, the US, and the UK for my higher education.
I researched about a variety of courses and applied to institutions that offered classes in Business and entrepreneurship but gave emphasis on the general liberal arts curriculum as well.
I targeted all the three countries mentioned before but my main goal was to go to the United States as it gave the most flexibility in terms of the coursework to obtain one’s degree. I came to this conclusion much after I applied to all of them.
The schools in the United Kingdom and in India weren’t providing me with that amount of freedom, so even though I applied to five UCAS colleges and one in India, I didn’t end up selecting these schools on being offered admission.
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SAT and ACT
The application process is quite different for the UK and US colleges. For most US schools, one is required to take the Standardised exams like the ACT or the SAT along with a few subject tests and advanced placement tests. I took these exams and scored decently.
I didn’t take the AP exams until I realized their importance after completing my grade 12 finals and took two in the break between senior year and college. So, the scores didn’t count towards my admission but helped me learn important topics for university.
I can’t emphasize the importance of the standardized tests in your application. The more you score, the higher your chances of getting into a top college.
In the UK, the standardized testing process is not required for Indian applicants and it is based upon your final senior year results. Oxford and Cambridge have separate entrance exams.
Extra-curricular and Key Application Components
Apart from the test scores, the other important components of the application for US colleges are one’s school grades from the freshman year of high school until the first term of senior year, extra-curricular activities, essays, and letter of recommendations from teachers.
I believe that one shouldn’t rely on too many extra-curriculars. Instead, one should focus on just those that one’s passionate about and diversify through achieving glory in these activities.
Besides, the extra-curricular activities are also seen just like a purposeful way of measuring one’s ability to succeed at the university level where academics need to be balanced with other activities. It’s important to realize that rigorous profile building does not help in getting admitted to universities.
Colleges are first looking at one’s school grades and test scores. The essays are different for most universities in the supplementary section, while each school will also get to read your common app essay. The common app essay is the only essay that will be the same for each school. What’s important to remember in the writing process is to be true to yourself and your reader and tell your story instead of demonstrating it.
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In the UK, your essay will be based on your academics and the course selection with much less emphasis on your outside achievements. Honors, if any, can only be related to one’s academics if you need to write about them on your Statement of Purpose. No wonder, it’s even given that name. So, don’t confuse the two different types of essays- the US ones and those in the UK.
External perspectives do help. However, it’s pretty important that you work with the right college admission counselors. But, you must keep in mind that it’s you who need to do the heavy lifting.
I had been following blogs on Stoodnt when I was in Class 11/12. I had also attended their college admission session by Martin Walsh (former Asst. Dean of Admissions, Stanford University). I also attended various live webinars by Team Stoodnt. All those sessions were very helpful.
Experience at UC Berkeley and USA
Finally, I would say that the overall experience of mine at a US College so far has been quite adventurous. Even though there are many challenges of being a foreigner on the other side of the globe, studying to complete my degree, I feel that the benefits are too many to reconsider my options and choices. I believe that anything is possible with sheer determination and positivity. Read my article on life as an international undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.
If you want to hear more from me, then do book an online one on one and I can try to guide you better by sharing further updates from my end!
If you wish to get more insights or want to discuss your college list, essays or applications with me, please feel free to book a 1:1 session with me.