Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to get accepted into US varsities

How to get accepted into US varsities

Jan 05, 2010
New Straits Times

By Nurjehan Mohamed

THE trick to being accepted into an American university can be summed up in one word: preparation.

"In a way, you should start preparing as soon as you enter secondary school," says Jay Getz, a volunteer with the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE).

He recently spoke to parents and students at MACEE about how to put together a solid application for United States universities in conjunction with the organisation and the US Embassy's International Education Week.

Aside from your grade point average (GPA), university admissions officers would also be looking at standardised test scores (such as the SAT or ACT tests) as well as your commitment to extracurricular activities and your essay.

The essay, he adds, is the chance for you to sell yourself and to show admissions officers what you can offer the university...

Do's and don'ts when writing your essay:

Do be clear, concrete and concise.

Some common mistakes that applicants make while writing their essays are that they are vague; they philosophise about topics they are not passionate about and which they haven't thought through; and they fail to give concrete examples of how they have developed as people.

Do try to keep your essay positive.

Avoid writing about religion and political adversity as well as common topics such as global warming or how Barack Obama's election was important to you.

Do use your best writing skills and edit your essays.

Do let other good English speakers check your work.

Do write about something you're passionate about and that shows your best side.

Aside from the basic academic requirements, universities generally look for leaders and people who are dedicated to the subjects that they want to study.

"If you do something you are passionate about, it would be easier to continue doing it and communicating about it."

Don't use your personal essay to show how modest you are.

The essay is a chance for you to sell yourself and to show admissions officers what you can offer the university.

"It's similar to applying for a job because you're trying to put your best foot forward," he says.

This is not the time to boast about your achievements but neither should you be too modest about what you have done.

Don't share a struggle you had unless you've overcome it.

"Choose an activity you did well and avoid writing about adversities you have yet to overcome," says Getz.

Don't try humour in writing because it rarely translates well across cultures and on paper.

Don't be negative about other races or religions.

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