“Should I just hibernate and wait for the term to start?”
“I thought all the tiring process of university admission is over by now.”
University admission is by no means a process to just slack on, yet getting that acceptance letter is also not the end of the story.
The almost almighty acceptance letter.
There have been some less than fortunate cases due to inadequate preparation such as this case where due to some misunderstanding she needed to take her masters coursework before continuing her PhD, or this case where a visa application was rejected due to lack of adequate intent to return. Though infrequent, even one hiccup is too many for disturbing an otherwise smooth study abroad preparation. On the other hand, it can be mind-numbing to spend the long waiting time with activities such as gaming marathon (though I don’t condone occasional gaming), hibernating, or even continuously staying in the SCE (sleep, code, eat) loop.
One idea posted to my faculty’s T-shirt design contest. Photo courtesy of Eric Leonardo Lim via Computer Engineering Club, NTU.
Fortunately, there are better ways to spend the waiting time before term starts. Nandra has given several valuable tips on managing pre-departure issues, as well as Cecilia for pre- and post-arrival in Melbourne, yet I would like to put some other great ideas for you:
- Accept (or at least consider) the admission offer.
Almost a no-brainer, but this is actually a very important step, too important not to tell. Miss this, and good bye to the coveted acceptance you’ve (supposedly) got through toil and sweat, or worse, you finally attend a university you don’t really want since you somehow ended up throwing the better university’s offer.
Most university acceptance offers are not binding (that is, you have the luxury of choice should you have some offers at hand) and quite some do not require any deposit payment, so should you think that the offer need to be reconsidered or you hope for any other offer, feel free to do so (but don’t forget to act quick). I do know of one who accepted the offer despite the person looking for other university, and finally the person chose that other university and withdrew the offer acceptance from the earlier university. Not recommended, I know, but as a last ditch effort it’s also something worth considering.
- Complete post-acceptance procedures.
There are quite some procedures you need to undertake after acceptance, let it be student visa application, financial aid application, or maybe simply photo upload and network account setup. One problem is that universities don’t want to take way too much data except when needed, which therefore puts quite a lot of things to handle after a student is admitted. On the bright side, though, it also put some of the stress away from the application, which I also assume you should have really appreciated.
In addition, some procedures have their own timeline as well as additional requirements such as mailing documents for financial aid application, which also needs some extra care. So you thought you’ll get rid of all those forms upon acceptance? Think again.
That many things to do? How about my hibernation plan? At least I don’t need to fill that during application period.
Student visa application is also another thing to mention. While visa application for some countries may not be as complicated as others, applying early always never hurts (provided they already opened the access for such application). In most places, though, student visa application is to some extent work like a sponsorship system where the institution need to give authorization before the student can apply for the visa, let it be solely through admission offer letter, or for example in the case of United Kingdom, a form confirming acceptance of study. Should that mess up even though it’s supposed to be provided at that time, do contact the university immediately.
Fill the form online, upload your photo, pay application fee, and wait. Copy of student visa application form for Singapore.
- Join to-be freshmen groups.
It’s always nice to know some people with the same fate (aka accepted in the same university/school) as you before you depart. Those groups can prove to be handy, such as when searching for future roommate(s), looking for orientations to attend, or even asking general information on student life. The (usually) friendly seniors who are there also tend to be quite helpful, preventing cases where the blind leads the blind.
There are a few things you can also do to make better use of those groups:
- Get to know to-be seniors and freshmen in the group. Chances are you don’t want to move to a campus without knowing every single person there, so it will be very nice to at least know a handful of people. This actually can happen naturally during classes or various activities after you start studying, however it’s always better to start early since there may be some chance of missing out due to the so-called cliques formed during orientation before university/school starts should you decide to let the get-to-know process happen naturally later on.
- Join activities. There are quite some specific groups of freshmen (ex.: by nationality, by faculty, or simply interest groups), and joining their activities, especially orientation activities, may be quite a lot of fun and provide you with a better way to bond with others in those activities. In addition, people tend to bond by common factor, which is also one of the reasons on why you shouldn’t miss the non-academic offerings on the campus.
- Learn about the culture at the destination, either from asking or overhearing. I heard of someone whose parents thought that since NTU is a quite reputable university, he departed with a lot of more formal clothes only to find that a lot of us wear T-shirts (and for some, shorts) to classes on a daily basis. That kind of inconvenience can be avoided had he knew a bit more of the normal attire (and the culture in general) of the university. On a side note, how many people do you see wear T-shirt in this video?
- Do well in whatever you have in hand now (or maybe get something interesting to wait).
Some people think getting the university offer means that they’re free to simply leave their responsibilities and just do some so-called YOLO stuffs (high schoolers, I’m looking at you). The fact is, no, you can’t simply throw your responsibilities like academic caps when you graduate. There are two key reasons for this:
- Some universities provide a conditional offer (that is, an offer that becomes firm once you fulfill the condition mentioned, such as high school examination marks). Flunk the requirement, and the offer is as bad as if you don’t accept the offer until the deadline.
- Safety choices are still necessary even if you have accepted the current offer. For an example, if you plan to study at an university which charge a quite high fee yet suddenly some things happen and you can’t pay up for your study, well, there ought to be some other choices.
Examination shouldn’t be affected by any admission offer. Photo courtesy of Thomas Galvez.
As you prepare for your eventual departure, you may also want to do some things such as working or learning language (thank you, Citra, for the suggestion!), just to keep your mind sharp and great to go by the time you study. Did I say they can be some great additions to fill the otherwise wide gap on resume?
- Prepare for packing.
It may be still quite early, but preparing for packing before departure never gets old. The ample time allows for budget preparation as well as price research, which eventually should help you decrease your budget (and hopefully luggage weight). Hefty bills for buying so many items or gruesome exercises at gym before departure (because your luggage is going to be even heavier than what Superman can take) are among the later things you want to kick-start your trip, so take time and thoroughly find how things are going to work. I also put several simple tips for packing in my previous article, do check it out here.
Feeling in need of even more tips for packing? I’ve got you covered. From luggage allowances of more than 100 airlines all over the world, a series of infographics, up to how not to overpack for the trip, find out more at my new column here.
To answer the question on the start of this article, I’m sorry to say that hibernating isn’t feasible, at least not as long as what some bears do (contrary to popular belief, though, polar bears don’t hibernate). The sheer joy of being accepted, in my view, should be meant as a motivation to do better in whatever you are doing instead of an excuse to take a very long rest since there are still a lot of things waiting ahead to be done after getting that coveted letter.
See you on the next column!
I can’t read minds, but at least I can recommend some great articles for you:
- Are you prepared not to break the bank while studying overseas? Find out how to live overseas on a budget here: http://bit.ly/2bMk3kG
- What are some things people think when they start their overseas study? Eric explains some of the surprising things people face when they start their overseas study: http://bit.ly/2cor1dw
All photos are taken by me and are free to use by attributing the author except otherwise stated.