"When you choose to study overseas, you have chosen the hard way..for now."
It's been two weeks since I entered Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), a private university owned by a Government Linked Company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad. I've been sent to study here by the Public Service Department of Malaysia for a Preparatory Program for Overseas Universities. As far as I've been briefed in the previous days, the road to getting enrolled into an overseas university, mainly American Top Universities or famously known as the Ivy League Universities and Ivy League Standard Universities, is not a walk in the park.
Here's a video of my university..
Now, here's a brief detail of the program I'm in:
- Name: Preparatory Program for Overseas Universities (PPOU) - American Top Universities (ATU)
- Course: Computer Science
- Department: Intsitute of Liberal Studies, UNITEN
- Period of Study: 1 year
- Academics: Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test Of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), and Foundation Test
Let's return to the Ivy League requirements. After some reasearch and mostly advice and briefing in UNITEN, the most important requirement is the exam results. Yes, typical.haha. For SAT scores, the average score is 2100/2400. You can read about SAT in the link provided above for more details. I'm not that sure of TOEFL, but for the CGPA, it's best if we can get a 4 flat (in other words, straight A's) or the least is 3.8 (that's what my senior said). After that, we have to submit our resumes which should contain past achievements and participation. Then, we also have to write an entrance essay consisting of normally 800+ words. Other than that, we need to find at least 5 people to write recommendation letters for us to the universities, showing them what's so special about us. There might also be interviews. So, in short, there's a lot to do!
Here in UNITEN, I'm obliged to take subjects in Foundation in Engineering. "But why? I'm taking computer science!", that's what I thought earlier. Then, the dean told us that most of the top universities put computer science under the Faculty of Engineering which means there's an advantage for us if we study Foundation in Engineering. I guess there's a ratinonale in that. (Update) Thenafter, in trimester two, us computer science students have been changed to Foundation in Computer Science. Hooray!
Right now, most of us PPOU students have to go to class at about 8-10 am and finish at 4-6 pm during weekdays. It's definitely different from other students which might have a weekday off. Besides that, we have to participate as much as we can in co-curricular activities - to make our Resumes look better - in the midst of assignments and study. It will be quite a hectic year. So, an excellent strategy needs to be made and followed. Here are some of the advice I've gotten..
- Set your priorities right, try making a list.
- Review examples of SAT tests.
- Review Ivy League entrance essays.
- Make a daily schedule.
- Revise a lot.
- Think, speak and write in English.
- Motivate yourself for example watching motivational videos in YouTube or simply by reading motivational quotes.
- Practice self-study and group-study, you have to get help and help others and also study on your own at certain times.
- Religious practice is very useful as it can bring peace of mind which is VERY important in this stressful journey.
- Research and review on the chosen universities.