Recently, I had to take entrance exams again since I had to transfer to another school. Here’s some thoughts about that. But! Before that, I of course had to take college entrance exams. Now, I don’t know if this is the same with every school or place, but where I applied, transferees had to take the same exact test as the high school kids, so it definitely felt like I was applying for college again.
Being someone who took exams and then took them again two years later, I think I am sort of qualified to give tips. Initially, I applied to 4 universities and got in 3 of them, but it’s not as easy as it seemed. I had to take a review course specifically catered for people wanting to get in certain universities and I learned a great deal from that. Aside from the academic parts, here are some things I think were very important.
1. Decide where you want to apply months in advance
Know what colleges/universities you want to apply to a long time before you have to. I made a big mistake in only focusing on one university for a long time, until I realized I had to find others to consider as well. Knowing where you want to go helps you know what you need to do beforehand and increase your chance of getting there.
For example, if you want to apply to an arts-centered university, you will probably need to prepare a portfolio, and maybe even specific art pieces. If you only look at the requirements, say, a month before, you might have limited time to look at what you have and see what you can use.
On another hand, if you don’t know that there are grade requirements for a college or the degree you’re applying for, you might have trouble down the road. It’s always important to assess where you want to go and see what you need to prepare a long time before.
2. Talk to your school counselor
If you’ve never talked to your school counselor before, this might be a good time to do so. Oftentimes, they will have a list of schools that students from your school typically apply to and will have a good idea of what you will need. Sometimes if the school is pretty far, they can even act as a proxy for your application.
They can help you get connected as well if they have peers who used to go to that school and will be a much more substantial source of information than your classmates.
3. Make priorities
I’m not asking you to make a forty year plan of your life, but making sure of what you value and what you want will help you out a lot in applying for universities. Of course, what degree you want is important as well but there are other things to ponder.
Do you need a college with good facilities? If so, good facilities in what? If you’re majoring in technical degrees, like cooking, or computer programming, you might want to think about what colleges offer good spaces and materials.
Do you need a college with international professors? If you want to major in diplomacy or a foreign language or the like, you probably want to meet people who have had experience there. If you major in French, for example, it will be much better to learn from a French person or even someone who has lived in France for a long time rather than someone who’s only been there for a two week vacation.
There are other aspects of a university that you need to consider besides the academics. Things like student residence availability, transportation accessibility, disability provisions, scholarships, and others are things you need to think about before deciding where you want to go.
4. Have a Backup
Okay, sweetie, time for the real shit.
You might have been a straight A student for the last sixteen years of your life, but there is no guarantee that you’re going to get in that one university that you want to be in. Of course the chances are probably higher for you than that kid in class who never studies, but there is absolutely no guarantee.
Hell, I have worked flesh and bone for the top university ever since I was a child listening to my mom’s stories from that school. In the end, it was the only place I wasn’t accepted in. However, I went to my next choice and had the best times of my life.
This is why it’s important to have backup schools. Now, I’m not saying that you should give up completely, but be open to the fact that it’s not a 100% guarantee and that you need to be prepared. Look for the next best thing or somewhere you like averagely and do your best as well in the application.
I hope this helped if you are an incoming college freshman or anything similar or even something not similar. Perhaps you’re an alien scientist assigned to learn about humans and this has helped you realize something about us. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts you want to share, feel free to comment.