The Headaches of Admissions In Europe

The headaches that are specific to the admissions process in Europe, or when you’re applying outside of your home country. 

Slide 1: Lesson 3: The Headaches

Okay, so let's get into Lesson Three of the Admissions in Europe course, which is about the headaches that are specific to the admissions process in Europe, or when you're applying outside of your home country. 

Slide 2: Headache 1: Different Deadlines and Timelines

So the first issue is that different countries have different application periods; some start as early as October, and others don't even begin until March. So if you know for sure where you want to go, and it's a place in which you already have the qualifications, then you don't need to worry about this. But there are a couple of times in which you need to have some advanced planning and a plan B.

So for instance, if you're applying to a school that requires AP scores, and you don't have all the scores as of yet, your acceptance will be provisional, based on you getting the additional scores of 3 or higher. In that case, I think it's a good idea to have a backup plan that doesn't require the scores. So if something does happen that prevents you from getting the AP score, you still have a good plan in place. I mean, honestly, you never know what could happen. Maybe there's a messy breakup with your girlfriend or boyfriend the week of the exam. Maybe your teacher gets fired, you know, halfway through the fourth quarter, and then leaves subs to prepare students for the test at the end of the year.

So you just don't know, and it's always good to have a backup plan. The issue there is that if you apply to the school that doesn't require the AP scores, and you accept it, and then you do get the AP score, so you get into your first choice school, you will have to forfeit your deposit. Now that’s only if the school requires a deposit-many don’t and won’t ask for money until close to the beginning of the semester. But even if you do have to forego a small deposit, given the amount of money that you're saving overall, I personally think that the peace of mind is worth it. 

So then the other situation in which you might need to plan is what if your first choice school is like in Germany, where they don't open applications until later in the year, and they have competitive admissions — it's not non-selective, as we talked about before. I suggest following the same strategy of applying to another school, knowing that you'll likely have to forfeit your deposit if you don't get into the school that you want with a later application date. 

That said, the majority of schools in countries use rolling admissions that extends to a pretty long period of time. So in most cases, you'd be able to apply to your first choice school, find out if you got in within six weeks. And if you didn't, you'd still have time to apply to another school afterwards, if you didn't, so you wouldn't have to forfeit any deposit in those situations. 

Slide 3: Headache 2: Confusing Terms or Procedures

  • Nostrifications
  • Legalization
  • Apostille
  • Pre-enrollment
  • Entrance Exams
  • Studielink
  • Forms

So the next headache is around confusing terms and procedures. So sometimes, it might just be something like part of the application might not be in English, or it might be in phrases that you're not accustomed to. Usually, Google Translate can handle that very easily. 

  • Nostrifications and Apostille

Other times, there might be words that might as well be foreign. "Nostrification." Before Beyond the States, I'd never heard the word nostrification before. So basically, nostrification, legalization of documents, and apostille, which I'm butchering the name, certificate are all around the same thing. And there are some things that's only required in a few countries, but it's good to know that it's not a big deal. In case you see these words, you don't need to worry or freak out. And they all basically mean the same thing. And since the US is a member of the Hague Conference, it's a fairly easy process.

  • Legalization

What you do is you take your transcripts, or your diploma, whatever it is that needs legalized or apostille certificate or nostrification, you take it to your Secretary of State's office, and it's basically just getting them to attach a certificate to your documents, not a huge deal. 

  • Pre-enrollment

So while there are a number of confusing procedures after you're accepted, which we'll cover in a future course, Italy has one of the most confusing admissions processes that starts at the get-go. And that's what the pre-enrollment is. There's actually pre-acceptance and pre-enrollment with Italy, and it's all very confusing. 

Basically, you first apply to a school. And since most programs are non-selective, you receive a pre-acceptance offer if you meet the designated criteria. So then, you take your pre-acceptance letter from the school, and all the official certified documents to the embassy or consulate, and they legalize your qualifications, which is called pre-enrollment. 

So this is done at a certain time each year for about six to eight weeks, usually beginning in March. So you have to plan then if there's not an embassy in your area to get to one during that designated time to go through this. Basically, pre-acceptance from the school means that so long as the embassy determines that the documents you submitted are valid, then you're in. And then, after pre-enrollment with the embassy, you accept the admissions offer, and then pay a deposit for your spot. And then, when you go in September, you bring all these documents, including your final transcripts and such, and you get your final enrollment offer after submitting these forms. So it's a little stressful, a little confusing. That's the public universities in Italy that require that.

  • Entrance Exams

If you're going someplace that requires an entrance exam, this might mean you either need to travel — it might be within the US or even internationally to take the test, or arrange to have someone at your school proctor the test. There's one school that allows students to arrange to have the test proctored at their own school. But it has to be on a certain day of the week, which seems a little silly. But you know, again, there are very specific headaches. 

  • Studielink

So another big headache is one in the Netherlands called Studielink. It's not a coordinated admissions portal, but it is the first step in the application process no matter where in the Netherlands you're applying. And it's notorious for being confusing and having a lot of glitches, like asking a native English speaker for English proficiency, which is not something you need to provide if you're a native English speaker. And then, there are other times that you're asked to provide something that doesn't even exist. I had one parent tell us that the university her son was applying to requested predicted AP scores. So there's such a thing as predicted IB scores, but there's no such thing as predicted AP scores. So you know, again, just navigating those sorts of requests can be a little bit of a headache. 

  • Forms

You might find that a place is very specific about what's needed on the submitted forms. It might be that, you know, both sides of the transcripts need to be signed by the school. You know, again, it seems silly, but these are specifics that they ask for. And then, I've also heard from more than one person about having to follow up more than once with the College Board to get their AP scores or the SAT scores sent successfully. So knowing about that as well is helpful.

Slide 4: Solutions

  • Start Early

There are headaches around this, but there are headaches that have solutions. First and foremost, if you start early, you're not going to have as much stress when you have to follow up, or if you have to resubmit forms, or all of those things that could happen. You have enough time to deal with them. 

  • Ask Direct Questions

The other thing to note is that there's really nothing wrong with asking questions. I think we take some of the US mentality here, that there might be some mark against our kid in the admissions process if we ask what may be a stupid question, but it's really not the case here at all. I assure you that at some point in the process, you really will need to ask a question to clarify. And when you do, it's super important that you ask detailed questions that are incredibly clear and direct. You also might have to have the email comes from your kid, which is actually really good for them to start this independence. But again, advising them to be very clear and direct in the question. For instance, we talked before about the predicted AP scores. The direct question there could be the College Board does not provide any students with predicted AP scores, shat should I should submit instead? So being direct, very good, and in many places, directness is valued. Particularly in Northern Europe, they really appreciate direct communication. 

  • Track the Process and Prepare Materials in Advance

So a lot of places have some sort of online area where you can track the process of the application. If you're doing this proactively, you'll know ahead of time, like, boy, they haven't gotten the SATs scores yet, and they should have. And so, you can you can handle that before it's a problem. The other thing to do is to make sure you have resources in place for all the things you're going to need to submit. So usually, a copy of your passport, passport size photo, transcripts, diploma or a letter from the school, from your high school stating that you're on track to graduate. Just getting all those things together ahead of time will help you when it's time to start applying. 

Slide 5: Action Step: Getting your ducks in a row

And part of that is what your action step is about. It's going through a checklist. Do you know how to get these items?Do you already have these items? Who at your school will be willing to, you know, sign both sides of the paper if they need to do something silly like that? Do you know how — here's something I'm horrible at. I'm horrible at scanning. I hav this app on my phone, and then uploading it. It's just a big headache for me. Do you have an easy way to scan documents and upload them? 

Also, in the resource section, you're going to find a link that will show you places that provide nostrification. And the other action step is getting ready for Lesson Four, where we're going to go through the CV and motivation letter process. So it's the first brainstorm list you're going to need as we enter Lesson Four of this course.