Now in their first semester of their last year of high school, seniors are busy researching various universities and writing college application essays to best demonstrate their personalities and achievements of the past four years to admissions officers. Every year, most students apply to a traditional four-year institution in the US for a quality undergraduate experience, often through a liberal arts curriculum. However, there are a few individuals who take a divergent path from the majority of their peers.
“I think the biggest difference between applying to art school and regular institutions is the application process,” said Jessie Park (12), a prospective art school student. “Unlike regular applicants, art students are judged highly by the art portfolio they submit. People often assume that we are taking an easier path since colleges look less at our grades than they do our art portfolios, but this not true. In reality, we have to divide our time carefully to write the best essays for each artwork, add creativity to our drawings, and demonstrate our unique personalities to colleges. Creating artwork cannot be rushed, so it is extremely difficult to produce multiple art pieces that are satisfactory.
Apart from choosing different majors, some students decide to apply to schools outside of the US, a path that entails a separate application process. One popular option among students is applying to renowned Korean universities such as Yonsei University, Korea University, and Ewha Women’s University. While Korean universities may look for similar qualities in applicants such as grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, other factors differ drastically. Most primarily, Korean universities value grades and academic achievements over the unique qualities of each student. Furthermore, the essays and interviews held by these schools differ in style from those of US colleges.
“The essays that are required for Korean schools are different from those required by US institutions,” said Kristina Hyunseo Kim (12), prospective student of Korean universities. “While colleges in the US encourage applicants to write narratives that demonstrate their personalities, Korean institutions ask for straightforward essays listing students’ academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Another dissimilarity is that I had to turn in the essays by September, which is much earlier than when US applications are due. This is because I get to know if I get admitted early in December, and get to attend university starting from March next year if I do get accepted.”
Other universities many students look forward to attending are located in the United Kingdom, some of which include Oxford University, Cambridge University, and University College London. While these institutions also require students to have satisfactory grades, decent test scores, and an impressive list of extracurricular activities, they mandate students to apply through a different organization called the Universities and Colleges Admissions (UCAS).
“Although UCAS is similar to the Common Application in many ways, it does have several differences as well,” said Gordon Kim (12), a prospective UK school student. “First of all, unlike the Common Application, UCAS requires us to declare a major from the beginning; once you declare your major, you are not allowed to change it during your time at university. Another major difference is that we need to submit a personal statement that shows our accomplishments rather than the individual characteristics that make each of us unique. Applying through the UCAS can be extra work, but UK schools are significantly cheaper and closer than schools in the US.”