So ...California is awesome. Clear skies, beautiful weather, great beaches, cool things to do. If you want to spend four glorious years at university in this wonderful state, you need to get your sh*t together...AND FAST!
The best and easiest way to get into a university in Cali is to apply to all the UC schools. The UC schools are 9 undergraduate universities in different locations in California that use the same (ONE!) application for all the universities. It's like the Common App for California universities. Here are the universities you can apply to, all at the same time:
One application sounds great, right? Here's the catch: You only have 1 month left to apply. Not one month to plan or write or get recommendations. One month for the whole thing. The application for the UC schools closes on November 30th.
We repeat, the application deadline for UC schools is November 30...and they want ALL of your stuff by then. No sending recommendations and scores later. You should submit everything by November 30th to have the best chances of acceptance. Check out the application guidelines and deadlines here.
How are you going to get this done? Here's our plan. We hope you're ready to work.
You need to have already done the things below. If you haven't, you should do some serious thinking. You can either not apply to these universities (choose others in California with and apply with the Common App) or you can risk your application money by sending documents later:
Before you start asking people for stuff, take a day and go through the websites of all the UC schools. If you already know your intended major, apply to all the universities with your major. If you're not sure about your major, read this blog post and start thinking!
Be sure to review the different requirements of each university and try to choose one stretch, one match, and one safety university. (If you're not sure what we're talking about, read more about selecting universities here.) If UC Berekley is on your list, that's your stretch. It's a stretch school for everyone because it's one of the best universities in the world. Generally, we'd classify the universities as the following for the typical student in Dubai:
WEEK 1 (OR NOW): GATHER SUPPLEMENTARY DOCS
This week is all about gathering supplementary documentation that relies on other people.
Task 1: Go to your high school front office or guidance counselor, beg for help, and get a high school transcript.
You don't have to submit transcripts yet to the universities you apply to. You need this transcript so that you know the exact grades and courses. You can also PDF if need be. Universities will ask for a transcript if they need one.
Task 2: Put together your Student Activity Resume' to organize your activities. Check out these posts for help and a template. Some quick tips:
Task 3: Start completing the application with what you have as soon as possible. You'd be surprised how long this can take.
What about recommendations? UC schools don't read them at the time of application but a university may ask for one in supplemental information later. Don't get a reco at this stage.
WEEK 2: START WRITING
The second most time consuming part of the university application process, after studying for the SAT, is writing your essays. Keep in mind that your application essays are the ONLY personal voice they will hear from you (Your grades and test scores do quite a bit of talking). Although interviews are becoming more common, they aren't required as part of the applications for UC schools. Therefore, for these universities to know and understand "your story," they have to read great essays.
Task 1: Understand the essay questions. Here are the essay questions for the University of California schools with our comments to help you understand them. The max word count total is 1,000 words. We suggest you write each as about 500 word essays. Get as close to 500 as possible without going over. UC provides a personal statement worksheet to help you organize your thoughts -- use it!
The hardest part of this essay is the shaping dreams and aspirations part. It's best to start here and then craft your world around it. So, think about 3 key dreams or aspirations you have (short term, after university, and long term vision) then think about three parts of your current or past world that have created those aspirations. For this essay, focus on your diversity, why you are unique. California schools want a diverse population and that's one of your strong points as an international student. You can describe Dubai as part of the world you come from, but focus on it's unique points: how Dubai is different from the West rather than how it is similar.
Essay 1 shouldn't be a story, more of a classic five paragraph essay. Essay 2, however, should be an interesting, philosophical masterpiece. Use the personal statement worksheet as a starting point for your planning, then tell a great descriptive story.
Task 2: Write first drafts of each essay. Now that you have an understanding of the questions, start your essays with these three steps:
WEEK 3: FINISH YOUR ESSAYS
So you've written first drafts of your essays and taken sufficient time away from them. This week you will finish them.
Task 1: Become an editor. You MUST check all the little things about your essay: grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word choice, everything. Check out this funny post on How to Write Good English.
Task 2: Let someone else look at your essays. You'll need someone else to read your essay to help you correct errors or ask you questions (the answers should go in your essay because these are questions any reader would have). If you show your essays to a teacher, you should ask another person to review them also. Teachers are busy people. Usually, they will give your essay a quick read and tell it's great or give you minor feedback. You NEED more analysis from someone who has time to really evaluate your essay.
Task 3: Upload your essays into the application. One task gets crossed off the list and you can change them later if you need to.
WEEK 4: FINISH YOUR APPLICATION
Hopefully, you've been completing the application as you go. Here's what you need to do this week:
Task 1: Finish the application.
Task 2: Check the application very carefully. If you missed anything, the online app will not let you save or submit a page. If anything is missing later, you will receive an email from the Admissions Departments of different universities.
Task 3: Submit the application. Do not wait until November 30th to submit! Submit the application as soon as you are finished. It is not unually for servers or websites to crash on application deadlines because so many people are accessing them. Avoid this and submit by November 29th.
YOU'RE DONE! >> CALIFORNIA HERE YOU COME!