Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The UWC Application Process

With all the suspense of people heading off to their respective colleges for this school year, I think it's a good time to have a 'throwback' to where we all started on this journey: the application process.

    The application process differs for people from different countries and of different nationalities. There are two main ways that you can apply to a United World College. Número uno: you can apply directly to the school, but this only applies to UWC Maastricht, UWC South East Asia and Waterford Kamhbala UWC. Numbah two, and the most common method: you can apply to UWC through a National Committee. This is the method that I'll be focusing on in this blog post. The members of a national committee are responsible for a number of things, including: promoting UWC, creating and following through with individual applications, selecting students for the UWCs and preparing them for their time at their respective UWCs. The national committee system is really helpful as countries have different education systems and grading systems, laws, etc, and these committees are made up of UWC alumni and other volunteers who know how it is to live in these countries as students, and will know how to best adapt the application procedure to fit these into the students' school years, and they can also conduct the process in the language of those students, which makes it easier for them to express themselves and show what they're fully capable of. If you've done your research and realized that, for whatever reason, you won't able to apply through a national committee, then you should contact the UWC international office.

   Each NC has their own way of going about the application process. You should apply to the National Committee of the country for which you are a national. Sometimes you aren't a national of the country in which you are residing, but check the qualifications of their NC to see if you would still be able to apply. I applied through the Dutch National Committee because I'm a Dutch national. Although I didn't live in the Netherlands, they also dealt with applicants in the Dutch Caribbean.

So, here's how my application procedure went down:

  1.  I looked into the requirements needed to apply. I've been interested in UWC for a long time before applying, so I did a lot of research before actually applying during my last year of high school. Everything from age to educational requirements apply. There are certainly no requirements when it comes to race, background, religion or financial standing. 
  2. I looked out for when the application forms were out. The Dutch national committee uses online applications, and mine was put online around the end of November. It was a few pages long, and the questions were quite thought provoking. They look at a lot of different aspects of your life through the application. I also had to send an application form to my parents, a teacher and a mentor. I sent the application forms in around the beginning of January.
  3. I received an email indicating that I got through to the interview stage. I got the email around mid-February, and my interview was to be mid-March.There are supposed to be three rounds when it comes to the Dutch national committee's application procedure: the written application, a selection day with group activities and a short interview, and lastly, a long interview. That's how they did it in the Netherlands, but for us Dutch Caribbean applicants, it was mainly 2 parts: the written application, and a selection day with group activities and a super long interview. This is because we were so spread out, so the interview day was held on one of the islands, in our case, Curaçao. So that day was when we had to get a lot done, because it was our only day to meet altogether.
  4. The interview day. On the interview day there was a student from Curaçao, one who was originally from Curaçao but was living in Trinidad, two from Aruba, and one (moi) from Sint Maarten. We met our interviewers, one of whom was an alumnus from UWCSEA. The day started out with doing some ice breaker games, and flowed naturally into the other activities. I was really glad that our group was cool; it wasn't about competing against each other or trying to be better than one another. We were all nervous, of course, but we were being ourselves and I think the atmosphere we created that day helped to calm some of those nerves. We did a few different activities, and at some point, each of us was called for the interview. This was probably the most nerve-wracking part. I walked into the interview room with my three interviewers before me, not knowing what to expect. The interview was probably the most intense thing I had ever gone through. I felt like they found all of the weak points within my application and just grilled me on them. My brain was fried afterward, I was sweating and I could barely remember what had just happened (I wish I was exaggerating on all of this, haha). I also walked out having learned more about myself than I knew before that interview. I returned to my group and wasn't able to speak of my interview until the rest had theirs. So we did our last few activities and said goodbye for the day. I got to meet up with some of the applicants the next day at the beach, before heading back to Sint Maarten that Monday.
  5. The weeks leading up to my acceptance. These weeks were mentally draining. I was always nervous and anxious about when I would receive a rejection or acceptance. I couldn't stop thinking about all of the things that I could've said during my interview, and where I could've gone wrong. The other Dutch Caribbean applicants and I were in a group chat on Facebook so that we could keep in touch with each other, and we were pretty much going crazy waiting for an answer. To make things worse, I had my mock CXC exams coming up, and I had to try extra hard to stay focused. Once my exams had finished, I got that beautiful phone call that weekend. The alumnus who had interviewed me was on the other end of the phone. I didn't know if phone calls only meant acceptance, or if it was possible that this could be a rejection too. So once she declared that she had 'good news', I could barely contain my excitement. So, naturally, I started to cry... ahaha, I know, I know, but seriously, I was pretty overwhelmed. I couldn't tell the other applicants for a little while until everyone knew whether they were accepted or not, which sucked. Once we were able to tell them; they were really happy for us!
  6. After the acceptance. I was then added into a Facebook group with some of the other people in my year group, and was happy to find that two of the Dutch Caribbean applicants were also accepted. The year group kept growing until we had 26 students from the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean who will be going, on partial scholarships, to 13 of the 14 different colleges. This group was run by one of the volunteers to the Dutch National Committee who basically helped to guide us through all of our questions, and excitement, and helped prepare us for everything that's on a need-to-know basis at our respective colleges. The Dutch NC held different events for us, for example the scholarship ceremony and the Algemene Ledenvergadering (ALV). Overall, they tried to make sure all of our questions were answered and we were well prepared for when we finally began at our colleges.
   Just a reminder, this was my experience. National committees around the world handle the application procedure differently. So look into your national committee's application procedure and see how it's done. I'm sure there are many people who are willing to give advice to any prospective applicants. There's a group on Facebook that was made to help out anyone who's interested in applying in 2015. 

Tips for future applicants:
  • Do your research into United World College, and what it stands for. If you feel that this is what you want to do, and you meet the requirements needed to apply through your national committee, then go for it!
  • Be honest throughout the entire application process, and be yourself during interviews.
  • Ask questions! Try to get in contact with someone who's been through the same application procedure that you might be going through and see if they have any advice.
  • It's a competitive process, but don't see the others going through the process with you as a threat to your acceptance. At the end of the day, it's going to depend on what YOU bring to the table, not what the others did or didn't. 
 Hopefully this article was helpful to any prospective applicants!

Two days until I start at UWC Maastricht, gaaaahhhh. I'll try to keep this blog updated with posts about life at UWC!


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