The time most high school students try to overlook as they attempt to make the most of their last year in school is approaching fast; in fact it is already here! It is time for students to decide on where and what to study after high school. Of course this process has started quite some time before. For some, it starts a year prior to their graduation, but for others it may start two or more years before the application submission deadline depending on the chosen university.
So, what can one do to avoid the imminent anxiety attack when thinking about this long and complicated process? The quick answer is typical: ask your parents, discuss it with teachers and perhaps also seek advice from professionals. However, this seemingly easy to follow process requires some sincere and careful introspection by the candidate, as well as a few careful and constructive discussions with parents and/or counselors. Of course, let us not forget the need for timely and careful submission of the necessary application(s). Because the candidate is not limited to how many different countries he/she wishes to apply to (the number of universities in some countries is limited), the candidate must plan his/her time carefully and evaluate how this will affect their study time.
The first crucial question is perhaps whether you really want to study at university at all! This search and discussion may have already started one or two years ago, around the family dinner table, and if university is a definite ‘yes’ then a great step forward in the decision making has already been made. Once this is has been decided, the next thing to do is to choose a field of study that you would like to pursue. The next step is to explore where in the world your dream degree course is offered, and naturally, whether your probable qualifications match the ones required by that university.For those of you who have already decided upon the where and when, here is a list of useful dates for a for the September/October 2018 intake in a few selected countries.
Please remember, early applications are always possible and often advisable and advantageous.
UK: Application submission deadlines, 15 October 2017 for Oxford, Cambridge and most medicine and veterinary degrees, 15 January 2018 for the majority of degree courses, and 24 March for some art and design courses.
USA: Early application submission deadlines either 1 or 15 November 2017; Regular applications 1 January 2018 and 1 February 2018; Rolling applications 1 May 2018.
Switzerland: Each Swiss university and polytechnic has its own individual admissions deadline, which generally runs from 1January to 30 April, details are given on each university website.
Ireland: Regular applications submission deadline 1 February 2018 and late applications 1 May 2018.
Germany: application deadline is before 15 July 2018. Netherlands: depends on the course of study.
Australia: for March 2019 intake, the application deadline is anywhere between mid-November 2018 and the end of December 2018 depending on the course and the university.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but thanks to the abundance of information on the Internet there is no need to expand it here. Most academic questions have already been answered by the application time and should already be in their final stretch. Language proficiency qualifications may be required by certain universities, but these can usually be taken care of by taking several well-known external examinations or sending proof of high school acquired language skills. After the question of academic qualifications and language proficiency there also extracurricular activities to be presented in their most strategic light. Nowadays, extracurricular activities help to define the overall personality of a candidate so universities are giving them more and more importance. In addition, most universities require the candidate to portray himself/herself and to give examples of their talents, drive, enthusiasm, academically relevant competencies and experiences. This last part is one of the most difficult parts of the whole application process for most people. It is important to remind the applicant that it is fine to clearly state his/her true dream on paper when such a presentation is required.
Those students who have not managed to conclusively decide where and what to study may very well take a year off to either enrich their qualifications, gain work experience or engage in volunteer work. My experience has shown that this is one of the typical reactions for those who, for one reason or another, have been unable to decide on an attainable goal by application time.
It seems that the candidate has plenty to do, taking into consideration a great many, often contradictory factors, and discussing them in detail so the decision is exhaustively thought out. Indeed, the decisions are demanding and time consuming but it is not an unattainable task. So, students and parents, arm yourselves with patience, perform systematic and careful searches, listen to various pieces of advice, but critically, decide what is best suited for the candidate. Please remember that each student may be unique and precious to his/her parents, but for the candidate to leave the university admissions officers with the best possible positive impression, this uniqueness must shine through during the university application process.