Like I promised the next few blog posts are going to be all about the application process, with tips and tricks on how to make your application the best that it can be. This one will be the first half of the online application talking about the paragraph questions and the next one will be about the short answer questions and the creative piece.
Just a quick disclaimer, I applied through the Canadian national committee as a Canadian citizen living abroad. Different national committees have different application processes so all aspects of this post may not apply to you directly, but I hope it still helps you begin your application.
The Canadian application was at their online website. I had to first make an account with my details eg. email, name, age. There were three parts to the application; paragraph questions, short answer questions and the creative piece. You are able to edit and make changes on the actual application website, however, I recommend that you create a google doc with all of the questions so that you can easily access it, edit it and share it with friends and family because a second opinion is very valuable during the application.
I am going to go in-depth on each of the three questions in the paragraph section during this blog post and give you some tips on what to write about yourself as well as what to watch out for when writing the application.
I also want to say again that these questions may not be the ones that you receive, I am just outlining them and my response as I’m sure there may be questions similar to this on your own applications.
I was given two 250 word questions and one 150 word question in this section. The questions were: Why UWC, What do you think, and What are we missing.
FIRST QUESTION: Why UWC?
For this question I had to write a paragraph explaining why I was interested in attending a United World College, describe what I might contribute to a College and what I hope to gain from my experience there.
For me, this question was quite difficult. I mean, I knew why I wanted to go there, to get a better education, and get out of my small island, but I didn’t know how to convert and expand those feelings into words. So I brainstormed.
If there’s anything that you take away from this post is to please brainstorm before you start any question. Even if you know exactly what you want to say, just brainstorm it out, because when you brainstorm you get ideas and answers that you would have never thought of before.
After my brainstorm, I came up with a few points that I definitely wanted to highlight from each part of the question.
- Why I am interested:
- Hearing stories of UWC alumni
- The chance to meet students from around the world
- Exposure to diverse cultures
- To test my academic and social limits
- What I may contribute:
- Experiences living in Bali
- With experiences in volunteer work will contribute to community service
- Enthusiasm towards learning
- What I hope to gain:
- Expand my knowledge and skills to help my community
- An evolved perspective
- Memories that will last a lifetime
From there I merged all of my ideas together to create draft paragraphs. It took me a long time to finally get the right one as I was always changing my ideas and the structure of it all, overall it was very stressful.
SECOND QUESTION: What do you think?
The question was not what I expected. I was asked to describe the biggest problem I see facing my region in 2017 and how I would propose to solve it.
I initially I had so many ideas, from pollution to poverty I was so unsure of what I would write about since Indonesia is always going through environmental and social issues. So, I once again I brainstormed 😉 and came up with the final decision on what I would write about which was: human trafficking.
I chose human trafficking because I volunteered at a sanctuary that worked with children and women who went experienced human trafficking firsthand, so I felt as though I already understood a little snippet of this large issue. Also, this was a topic that I debated in Model United Nations recently so I already had many ideas on how to solve the issue and different perspectives and aspects.
I suggest to you all if you get a question on this to ensure that it is something you are interested about and are willing to do the research for. My first choice was actually pollution but after doing a day of research I felt very unmotivated and I didn’t know why. However, once I changed my topic I ended up doing hours of research just for fun because I enjoyed it so much.
The way I structured my piece was to have the first introductory paragraph outline the main premise of the issue and highlight how it affected my country. Then the next paragraphs each highlighted different possible solutions. I chose to focus more on the solution rather than the topic facts and figures because I felt like they could get that information anywhere and I’m guessing they are more interested in my take of the issue rather than my ability to summarize information.
THIRD QUESTION: What are we missing?
This last paragraph is only 150 words (pheww!) and they basically wanted to know anything interesting about me that I didn’t add in the previous parts.
I wrote about my love for entertaining, especially performing arts and music. I chose to write about this because it is something of great importance to me, and what I really feel makes me unique in a big group of people. I participated in theatre since I was 5 so it definitely showed perseverance and growth as well.
In terms of your own paragraph, I think you should include an interesting/important aspect of your life. Example; if you really enjoy diving or you like to hike or creative writing. Don’t just list your achievements but more of what they mean to you. They don’t care if you won first place in a swimming competition, they care if you are dedicated to the swim meets, how swimming/ winning makes you feel and how you incorporate that into your daily life.
Last Tips and Tricks:
The two main things that you should consider when writing are:
Is this answering every aspect of the question? Am I hitting all the points that they ask for and expanding on them to the best of my ability? To help me with this after every draft I would read over the piece and tick each point that relates to the question at hand. This helped me see if I had too much information on one part and not enough on the other aspects. It also let me see if I repeated myself when I was writing, which I tend to do very often and also relates to my next point.
Word limit. This one I had to watch very closely as I am notorious for rambling on when I write. It was hard for me because I believe that everything I write has a meaning, that it needs to be there or else the sentence wouldn’t make sense. I am wrong. Something that really helped me shorten my word limit and I hope might help you, is imagining that you have to shop for groceries for a year but you only have a certain amount. Each word corresponds to one dollar you can spend and the total amount of money you have is your word limit. This means that if you have a word limit of 250, you only have $250 to ‘spend’. So each word you ‘spend’ should be worth something in the long run, it should contribute to the overall question that they want to be answered.
That basically makes up the whole of the paragraph section, sorry for the length but I wanted it to be as detailed as possible. I’ll try upload part two of this soon, which will include the creative piece and short word answers.
I hope this helped you with your application and feel free to message me whenever if you want any advice or help, I promise that I will answer as fast as I can and to my best ability.
That’s all for today folks, until next time,
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