On to Next Steps

We’re going to end this course this week by talking about what next steps should be taken. So the first thing that needs to be done is you need to narrow your list to decide which schools you’re going to be applying to.

Slide 1: On Your Mark

Lesson 2: Next Steps

So we're going to end this course this week by talking about what next steps should be taken. So the first thing that needs to be done is you need to narrow your list to decide which schools you're going to be applying to. 

Slide 2: How many programs should you narrow it down to?

So the first thing we need to talk about is how many schools you need to narrow it down to. This can be really difficult as a student in America, because you likely have friends who are applying to a ton of different schools. And so, there's that sort of mentality, that that's what you're supposed to do. But if you said, “My first choice school is, you know, whatever, Utrecht University, and this program at Utrecht University,” and I said to you, “Oh, okay. Well, you can apply, and you'll get in. Why would you apply anywhere else?” I mean, there's just no reason to. 

The other thing is that most of the schools have rolling admissions. So if you don't believe me, you could apply to Utrecht University in October. And if I'm lying to you and they say, “No, you're not in,” you still have all sorts of time to apply to the other schools. So you don't have to choose to take on that stress. If you have the requirements for your first choice school, and it’s non-selective, you don't need to have any others on your list. If you're still waiting on an AP score and you're applying to a selective program, you need to apply to one other in order to have a safety school. 

So do you have one or two programs that are clear frontrunners? And do you meet the admission criteria right now, other than graduating from high school, for at least one of those programs? Then great. That's the goal, and you're done. If you have more than three or four programs on your list, or the programs you have, you can't put them in a priority order, then you need to do a little bit more exploration to narrow it down. 

Slide 3: How many programs should you narrow it down to?

The first thing is that it's time to get a little bit more picky. I mean, yeah, there are probably several places that would be a good fit for you. But we need to figure out which ones tick the most boxes, or which ones tick the most important boxes. So we're going to start getting into your preferences. So what I want you to do is gather all the preferences you gathered from the previous assignment, if there are some, as you're looking this over, where you're like, “That just doesn't even really matter.” Or some where you're like, “Wow, that's almost a dealbreaker, but not quite.” You're going to want to note this. Maybe you're going to rank some as higher than the others. 

Because what you're going to do is you're going to make a spreadsheet with your remaining programs, and all your preferences. Again, these are the things you thought would be nice, but not a dealbreaker. And maybe you thought of some more, outside of the assignments, as we talked about it or as you thought about it. So list all the ones from the previous assignments, and the ones that you've thought of, on the spreadsheet. 

What you're going to do is you're going to rank each of these preferences. A 1 means it doesn't meet the criteria, 2 is it meets, and 3 is that it exceeds. And then you're going to look at which of those programs score the highest overall. And this is where, you know, if some of those preferences are more important to you than others, you might want to do something with the ranking. That's totally up to you. This isn't a hard and fast rule of you got to rank them off from 1 to 3. Some of them might have more weight than the others, and that's totally fine. For those, maybe you want to scale it to 2, 3 and 4 instead of 1, 2, and 3. And then if you see that one of the programs is ranked low with the number for your preferences, but you're really uncomfortable eliminating it, maybe it's because it was, in fact, one that you'd liked better than the others. And that's kind of going to show you there too, “Oh, I can prioritize, I can put them on a ranking, even without the system.” If you can rank them without the system, then cool. But some people have a harder time than others kind of making a preferential order. 

So let's talk about the ways that you can gather information on your preferences or just sort of some more subjective information or a field that you want to get for things. First of all, one place to start is to see if the school has a way to connect you with the student at that program. Sometimes it's easy to do on the website. Again, as you know, some websites are better than the others. And it'll show you how you can do that there. It'll say like “connect with a student ambassador” or something. There might be a Facebook group and you could make a connection there. If not, you could always email the program and say, “Hey, can I talk to an international student at such and such a school?” Some schools also have virtual open days. Now if you can visit, that's great. It's not necessary, but it is great if you can visit, especially if you can visit schools when they're doing sort of an experience day, or an open day. It's not like here where tours are run, you know, five times a day, seven days a week. They're usually more organized events to give students information at certain points of the year. That said, I can hook you up with contacts I have at schools, and you can arrange to meet with people, even outside of those days. But those are a really good source of information. 

Some schools will have virtual experience days or virtual open days. So it's good to look at that as well. YouTube actually often has a lot of good information. If you search the university name, not only are you going to see a lot of promotional material from the schools, but often you'll see stuff that different students have put out about the university. Sometimes it's a look inside of the housing, sometimes it's a look at parties or whatever else, but you can get a lot of good information there on YouTube. So remember, this is only necessary if you haven't been able to determine your preference order for the programs. 

Slide 4: Admissions Timeline (it should be placed here)

And then we get to admissions, which is the next step, figuring out your timeline for admissions. If you're a junior, what this means for you is that this year, you get to just kind of sit back and relax while everybody else in your grade starts freaking out. Even if you're a senior, this is going to be a walk in the park compared to your friends. So what you should do at this point is just to develop a timeline. Depending on what country you're applying to, it might start in October, and it might not even start until March. So for each of the schools that you'll be applying for, just make a note of when applications open. You know, which is like the first day that you can start to apply. And also make a note of the application deadline. 

Now, when a school has rolling admissions, it's always better to apply on the early side of it. Sometimes, you can apply for housing and such when you apply to the university. So you're going to get higher — you're going to get on the housing list earlier than others who wait. So applying early rather than later, if you can. Also, make a list of what documents you need to gather. And whether or not you are required to submit a Motivation Letter. 

There will also be other things you'll want to do like if there are AP scores, you'll need to request those from the College Board to be sent. All of this is stuff that we go through in the Admissions course, which is just a three week follow-up to this course. We'd go through timeline, we go through requirements, everything you need to gather. And there's also feedback from me on your motivation letter, your motivation letter draft. 

Okay. So we've talked about the sort of things you need to do. In the next video, we're going to talk about qualities that are needed in order to succeed.