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How to Apply to Colleges

Applying for college admission is detailed and difficult. Though some countries may have slightly different requirements and timelines, some basic guidelines pretty much apply across the board. The process ideally begins in the junior year of high school. Usually prospective students are required to meet multiple requirements, some of which have strict deadlines.

Preparation, and taking it a step at a time, can make the system less daunting. Advisers are available to guide students through the steps. Here are some tips for how to apply to colleges.

1. Start in High School

In your junior year of high school, start making a list of possible colleges. Consider their academics, programs, costs, location, size, and other factors like entrance examination requirements etc.

Learn about their admissions policies and standards, to discern whether they might consider your grades, test scores, and other qualifications adequate. You may not have taken the right classes in high school to get you into a college.

If your shortlisted colleges require you to take any admission tests – like SAT- 1, ACT, IELTS &/or TOEFL – the ideal time to appear for any of these tests is by the end of your Junior Year or at the begining of Senior year. Since most examination scores have a validity of – at least – two or more years, this schedule would ensure you can devote optimum time to your senior year academics and grades.
By the summer before your senior year in high school, you should be ramping up your efforts. This is the time to decide where to apply. Read guidebooks and school rankings. Get help from admissions-office advisers or private counselors.

Schedule campus visits, and while at the colleges complete their interview requirements. Take admission tests or entrance exams. Whittle your list to a few schools, and begin writing the mandated essays.

2. Prepare Applications

The typical deadline for applications to colleges for the fall semester is Jan. 1, though some schools accept them as early as the previous fall. It is recommended that you file as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of acceptance.

The actual filing of applications and associated paperwork has become much easier in recent years. While this can still be done by regular mail, most colleges accept the common application. It is a standard online form, developed by a nonprofit organization, that makes it easy to email applications to all the schools on your final list.

Some colleges have their own forms, or require essays and supplementary materials. Applications generally ask for grade-point average, standardized-test scores, class rank, SAT or ACT scores, extracurricular activity record, awards, and other information.

3. Pay Application Fees

At last report, colleges were charging an average of $60 in application fees. Some impose fees of $200 or more. However, there are schools that waive these costs for online applicants.

Some colleges provide free applications for relatives of their alumni, students recommended by other graduates, and those who demonstrate financial need. You might be able to have fees waived by taking part in interviews or writing additional essays.

4. Submit Other Materials

Colleges vary in their requirements, but it is common for them to ask for an essay that is sometimes called a “personal statement.” You will be asked to answer a question, in your own words, in 300 or more words. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence structure, and other writing abilities are needed for this task. You might have to write other essays, as well. Have someone possessing such skills edit anything you write.

In addition to essays, you will have to send each school your high school transcript, and recommendations by teachers or guidance counselors.

The competition is intense for admission to many colleges and universities. Only those who have the proper credentials are considered. There are ways to improve your odds of getting into the college of your dreams, or at least one near the top of your list. Follow these steps, and get a great start on your post-secondary experience.

Top 5 Student Cities in the World

There are several different factors that combine together to make a city a truly great option for students. From people and academic resources to affordability and nightlife, students have to consider a number of things before they pick a city to attend university in. The QS Best Student Cities report was released recently. The index assesses cities around the world based on a number of factors such as affordability, employer activity, quality of living, student mix and university ranking. Given below are the 5 cities that scored the highest on the index:

  1. Paris: This wasn’t the first time that Paris managed to get the top spot on the list. With 17 excellent university, excellent quality of live, a large student community and low tuition cost, Paris is definitely a dream destination for any student. Although the city is quite expensive to live in, it more than makes up for it when it comes to tuition costs. The universities in Paris are extremely popular with international as well as local recruiters.

  2. London: The second spot on the list was secured by London. London is home to 18 highly ranked universities, two of which are considered to be among the top 10 universities in the world. London also has a very large and diverse student population and it attracts students from around the world. Although it is slightly less affordable compared to other cities, it does have a good reputation with employers. London also has excellent nightlife, great diversity and culture along with impressive educational facilities.

  3. Singapore: Singapore is quickly earning the reputation as one of the best student cities in the world even though it is a very small country with only two very well known universities. Singapore has a very diverse student population and graduates from Singapore universities are highly regarded with employers from around the world. It also offers excellent quality of life. The National University of Singapore is regarded to be among the 25 best universities in the world.

  4. Sydney: Sydney is the top student city of Australia and known for being home to excellent institutions such as the University of Sydney. While it does offer excellent quality of living, it does have high tuition cost and is slightly less affordable for students compared to the other cities in the top 5 list. However, the tuition costs are still lower when compared to most US cities, making it very appealing to students from the US.

  5. Zurich: Zurich not only offers the best quality of living compared to all other cities in this list but it also scores very high in terms of affordability. While the living expenses are quite high, the tuition fees are relatively low. The city is known for its beautiful scenery, its low crime rate, excellent educational infrastructure and its excellent reputation with employers. ETH Zurich in the city has the highest rank of any university outside the UK or US. There may be only two universities in Zurich but both are listed in the global top 100 list.

The Path to Becoming a Teacher

Teachers play crucial roles in society, sharing their knowledge with students and training them to succeed as adults. Education is an ancient and noble profession that is among the most popular college majors.

The path to becoming a teacher begins in high school, or even earlier, when students begin thinking about the profession. This process continues through stages of preparation, education, and certification.

You may want to be a teacher because you have been inspired by instructors in your school. Perhaps there is an academic subject that you love, and would like to teach to others. You could have a gift for relating to children that makes you well suited for a life as an educator.

1. Preparation

If you are in middle school or high school, you may already be considering education as a career. This is when you begin exploring the possibilities, and determining whether you have the necessary skills. In addition to research, you need first-hand information from teachers you respect. Ask why they chose the profession, and which aspects they like and dislike.

Your grades are important, as they are major factors in getting college placements and financial aid. If your grade-point average is too low, it could be hard to find a college that will accept you. Exceptional marks, along with high scores on the ACT or SAT, could pay large dividends.

It is recommended that prospective teachers take a variety of liberal-arts classes in high school. Challenge yourself with difficult courses, and sign up for college-prep programs. During this time, decide whether you want to teach in elementary, secondary, or special education. The level you choose affects the classes you should take.

In determining which academic subject to teach, you might want to do some market research. Instructors in certain subjects are in greater demand than others, which influences job availability and salary. At last report, those most needed were math, biology, chemistry, and special-education instructors. Social studies, health, and physical-education teachers were in the least demand.

2. Post-Secondary Education

The educational requirements for teachers are similar, with some differences, in the United States and Canada. States and provinces, rather than national governments, determine rules and procedures. All jurisdictions in the two countries mandate bachelor’s degrees, which typically entail four years of full-time study.

Selecting a college or university involves a number of factors, like tuition rates, academic requirements, degree programs, school size, and location. Do not immediately rule out a college that appears to be too expensive. Explore all the possible types of financial aid. The United States has a Federal Teachers Loan Forgiveness Program for students who agree to teach certain subjects or work in low-income areas. Some states also offer incentives to attact more people to the profession.

Education majors take an array of general-education classes, with an emphasis on the grade levels they anticipate teaching. While in school, they often work as student teachers to obtain on-the-job training. U.S. students seek undergraduate degrees in the subjects (like math, science, or English) that they plan to teach. They also must complete pedagogy coursework, which covers educational theories and practices.

An alternate route is to complete two years of college, then transfer to a four-year teacher-education degree program at a university. Online courses also are available. Some states impose additional stipulations regarding teacher-preparation classes. Receiving student-teacher training, as well as passing an exam in your subject area, are commonly mandated before you are allowed to apply for a teaching certificate.

Canadian undergraduates must obtain a specified number of credits, which varies by province, in education-related courses. A bachelor of secondary education degree takes another year or two of studies.

3. Certification

Nearly all public schools, and many private institutions, require their teachers to have professional certification. Procedures vary, but states usually administer the PRAXIS exam or a basic-skills test. A passing grade qualifies you for a teaching certificate in that state. Most states have incremental levels of certification. You could work for three to five years with preliminary, or provisional, credentials. Continuing education and experience are required to earn professional or permanent certificates.

In some places, this process is complicated. For instance, starting teachers in Michigan and some other states hold “initial” certificates that are good for one or two years, then can pass some exams to get six-year “provisional” credentials. These certificates must be renewed three times, involving more classes and exams. With further continuing education and professional development, an instructor may earn a “professional education” certificate. Veteran teachers can qualify for “advanced professional education” certification.

If you are certified in one state, you might be allowed to transfer the credentials to another state. However, such reciprocity agreements are not accepted in all jurisdictions. To become certified to teach in Canada, you need to show your qualifications to a provincial education department or College of Teachers. You also must past an exam.

Teaching children has many rewards, though the financial benefits are not as attractive as those of many other professional occupations. If you successfully navigate all the years of education, training, and certification, you can look forward to a gratifying career. As a teacher, you will find yourself in a position to positively influence young people, and help them achieve their own goals in life.

Choosing a University: What Colleges Don't tell you

Getting the right college degree from the right university will probably one of the most important decisions of your life concern. Some of the most important factors in selecting the right university are:

Where Should You Attend?

The first decision should be whether to attend a school in your home state, out of state or a school in another country. One thing that will influence this, aside from cost, is whether you want to be close to your family and friends. Some college students enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure of being in a new place.

Think About the Career You Want

Not every school offers the best training in the field you want to enter. Some universities have a reputation for offering excellent courses in some fields. For example, MIT is known as a top-class university for people who are into technology. Check the website and look at the course listings and the curriculum of the schools you are most interested in attending.

What Can You Afford?

The amount you can afford to pay will have to play a big role in choosing a college. If you will have to depend on scholarships and financial aid to get through, make sure to find out what is available. Some schools will have more scholarships and funding opportunities.

Extra-Curricular Activities

If you are big on a particular sport, you should make sure that you choose schools that participate in these sporting activities. If you are a player, choose schools that will make it possible for you to play. If you enjoy going to clubs and giving back to the community, the school should offer these opportunities as well. Any college you consider should ideally have an interest in culture, sports, volunteering and being socially active.

You also need to be realistic about your choices. Some schools are extremely difficult to get into, so make sure to apply not only to the top schools but also to good, middle-tier schools. Other things that will help you in making a decision when doing your research are:

  • Your emphasis on religion: If this is important to you, find out if places of worship are on campus or if they are close by
  • What others think about your choices: Talk to current students and alumni about their own experiences in college. Alumni are a great source of information if the programs helped them meet their career expectations. Current students can share their feelings and insight into the university
  • Available resources and facilities: If for example you are planning to study the sciences, look for schools with well-equipped labs
  • The meal option that is available: For religious or personal reasons you might not eat certain foods. Make sure you will be able to get the food you want whether on campus or nearby. If this is not possible, find out if you can cook on your dorm.

After careful consideration, you should ideally have three or four schools that fit the bill. These schools should be at the top of your list. The advice as to how many schools to apply to varies, with some people suggesting a minimum of three, while others saying six. However, it is up to you to decide how many applications to send out. Talk to your school counselor and your parents to help you make a decision. Some students send out over 10 college applications to increase their chances of gaining admission to one.

Be practical in your selection of a school. With research and effort, you can find the ideal college at which to further your education. Just make sure that you are choosing a college for the right reason. Finally, if possible, visit the campuses to get a firsthand view of what is available.

7 Top challenges students face when studying abroad

Students enrolling in colleges overseas will find the experience frustrating, challenging but also exciting. When going to a country with a very different culture, students have to try to adjust to their surroundings. While the experience is definitely not easy, it can be a lot of fun. Knowing what to expect before travelling to another country is the best way to make things easier. Given below are a few challenges that students commonly face when they study abroad:

Fitting in

All students will initially feel like an outsider when they go to a new country. They find it difficult to understand the local norms and culture, the language and food. While most countries are quite welcoming, the experience can be trying as you try to come to grips with your new surroundings. However, this problem will eventually seem smaller as you adjust to the new environment and find the locals to be friendly and encouraging.

The culture

The culture in every country is different. In fact, the cultures within the same country tend to be quite different. For students, it is important to understand and accept this fact. From minor cultural differences like accepted dressing and communications to larger issues, students in a new country will take a little time to fully understand the extent of cultural differences. The best way to deal with this problem is to read a little about the culture of the country you will be visiting and talking to other international students about their experience.

The food

Every country has different food. The food items served in the college cafeteria in a new country might be very different from what international students are used to eating back home. Initially, there might be a few adjustments required and you may even face physical issues as your body tries to adjust to the new ingredients and taste. However, with time you may easily get used to the new cuisine. Students can also try to find ingredients from their country in specialty grocery stores and supermarkets and try to cook at home.

The language

Language is perhaps one of the most common challenges that all students studying abroad face. Learning a new language takes time but once you are well-immersed, the problem will go away very quickly. English is spoken in most countries today so it should not be too difficult for students to communicate with others. However, it is also important for students to persevere and try to learn the language normally spoken in the new country.

Social life

Studying abroad can be a very enjoyable experience. However, being away from friends and family can take its toll over time. The best way to deal with this problem is by building a new support network in your new environment. Make new friends, talk to your classmates, join clubs at the university and do everything you can to build meaningful relationships.

Learning Style

Students from Asian countries are usually accustomed to lecture based classes. Universities in western countries usually involve group discussions, seminar and interactive learning techniques that international students may not be very familiar or comfortable with. These students are usually more comfortable with passive learning and tend to take some time to adjust to self-directed, independent learning that is usually required in western classrooms.

Academic Expectations

Because of the many difficulties that students tend to face in a new learning environment, it is common to see their grades drop during the first year of university. Some students may have high academic expectations and may find their performance depressing and discouraging. It would be help if you start studying up on some of the more difficult courses in advance. Take fewer credits in the first semester to ensure you have a comfortable schedule and try to avoid going for the tough courses right in the first semester. Most important of all keep an open channel of communication with your instructors and professors.

While there are several challenges that you will normally face when studying abroad, the experience is very rewarding and enriching.

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