Louisa Wenderoth, studying at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Deciding to apply for a university abroad took me a very long time. Why? Mainly because I felt completely overwhelmed by the whole application process.
Sending in documents on time, having an interview in a foreign language and feeling like I had no clue what was expected of me kept preventing me from taking the first step. Finally, my wish to explore life in a foreign country and the allure of the study programmes on offer became too hard to ignore. As it turned out, my application-phobia was quite unnecessary.
It was stressful, but manageable.
I was attracted by the unique approach to my degree programme. Combining politics, psychology, law and economics all at once allows for super interesting parallels and connections between all topics. The application process included three rounds. The first involved sending a CV, a personal statement and my grades. Next, I had to write an essay about future global challenges. For the third round, I was interviewed via Skype.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been interviewing my fellow students on their application process. It’s made it clear that everyone has different, interesting and important advice from their own personal experience to share.
Most universities require your grades, CV and a personal statement- keep this precise and honest. Don't only write about your academic skills- showing you have a personality is what sets you apart. While it might seem obvious, it’s so important to allow enough time for all this.
‘I discovered the programme quite late and had a stressful time sending in the documents, however, it worked out! Don’t forget that you often need an official translation of your diploma if it is not in English.’
‘Make sure to ask your university about the application for housing. You can often complete it in one step with the general application. The earlier the better!’
‘I was concerned that my language skills could be insufficient. It helped me a lot to watch English TV to get back into the flow of speaking.’
If you’re asked to have a Skype interview, think of possible questions in advance. If you know a native English speaker, practice the interview with them. I made myself a mind map with different topics: motivation, future plans, passions and academic background that I used during the interview and definitely helped ease nerves!
‘Luckily, I had a friend in the second year who shared her strategy with me. Keep track on the news, that’s a perfect preparation.’
‘Let people proofread your essay, especially for grammar mistakes.’
You are often asked to write about a current topic, so watching English news is a great idea.
Try to find a Facebook group for your programme and connect with other group members to ask for their experiences. You never know, they might provide you with crucial information.
‘The University of Amsterdam offered good support during the application process. It was always possible to reach them and they tried their best to answer my questions.’
I hope that this advice helps you to feel more comfortable with your application, maybe even in Amsterdam. Being prepared made sure that I felt as relaxed as possible about the process. Not being admitted to your preferred programme is not the end of the world. Try to find an alternative that you enjoy in case that you don’t get your first choice - you might be surprised.
Louisa is in her first year studying Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics at the University of Amsterdam.