The worst part in applying for grad school is the waiting. Which is made even worse, because I have to wait twice as long applying for a grad school overseas. When I mailed my application to Scotland the US Postal Service stated it would take 6-10 days and it cost me $14! If a few papers cost that much I’m afraid to even think of what shipping any of my belongings over there would cost ( I will definitely be looking into alternative shipping methods when the time comes). I have to wait 6-10 days for my application to be recieved, another 21 days for them to process the application and make a decision, then another 6- 10 days to recieve those results. So while I’m here patiently waiting I guess I will talk about the actual application process.
I was surprised how fairly simple it was applying for the University of Aberdeen. I was required to fill out an application, have one academic reference, certified copies of my diploma certificates, certified transcripts, and a personal statement. The application was general, most of the questions asked are exactly what you see when applying to US schools. The biggest difference was format and vocabulary. I wanted my application to be as perfect as it could be so my research went in to how exactly do I date my application. The US uses mm/dd/yy on the other hand the UK uses dd/mm/yy. You would think this would be simple but when you’ve been trained since kindergarten to date a specific way- it is hard to change that. I didn’t want the date to hinder my application, but luckily that is just a little change.
There were several other terms used on the application that the US does not use. Such as instead of asking for First Middle and Last name, they asked for Surname and Forename. I also believe it was the first time I’ve seen the term outwith instead of outside. The last and most confusing part of the application was determing the UK undergraduate degree classification. On the application I was asked what the result of my degree was. In the example I was give: 1st class/2nd upper class. I had no idea what that meant. I still do not fully understand the grading scale, because from what I could find, it appears it is slightly different in Scotland than it is in England. The US uses a grade point average (GPA)based on a letter grade (A-F) you recieve on a 4.0 scale. For example if my grade point average for my college career was 3.8 that would be the result I was asked for on my application. I was able to find a table that converted GPAs to the UK degree classification. I’m still crossing my fingers I was right because some schools convert your results differently than others. The whole grading system is very confusing and I really don’t think I know it enough to attempt to explain more than I have ( : If any of you understand please let me know!
The biggest difference between grad school in the US and Scotland was it doesn’t appear that I have to take a standardized test. In the US grad students have to take the GRE. The GRE is a test that evaluates your readiness for post-graduate work. I do not know what the requirements are for international students coming to the US and if they have to take this test or one similar.
I found the hardest part of the application process was the personal statement. What exactly does a postgraduate school in Scotland want in a personal statement? Granted they give you some questions to answer, but I kept doubting myself. I know what US schools want, but I couldn’t be sure with UK schools. I don’t know anyone else who has applied to study overseas to ask either. There were so many questions; how long should it be, are there slang terms I use in the US that I wouldn’t even realize as slang overseas, etc. I also wanted to find a balance in my statement to show that I’m not cocky but confident. Overall the process of applying to school was as it always is-STRESSFUL! I was so relieved to have it done and over with. Now it’s time for me to go back to (patiently) waiting…