Deciding on undergraduate studies is a crucial step for every student. After completing their HSC/A-level examinations, students stand on the verge of choosing their paths to their intended careers. The journey always begins with the selection of the subject or field of interest. Students should explore their options by checking out the possibilities with different subjects and also job prospects are essential to be considered. It is wise to start researching on this right after completing SSC/O-levels. This gives time to make the correct decision on the subject and also allows students to prepare themselves with every requirement for their applications.
As for Bangladeshi students, there are basically two ways to pursue their undergraduate studies: 1) Studying in Bangladesh and 2) Studying abroad. About 80% of the total students who complete their HSC/A-levels choose to study in Bangladesh. Of course, numerous private universities have sprung recently in the country, but the target of most brilliant students are usually Dhaka University, Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), IBA of Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), Islamic University of Technology (IUT) and Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). Besides, many students also want to get admitted into other government medical colleges and universities.
To prepare themselves for the admission tests in these prominent universities, students join coaching classes right after completing their HSC/A-levels. Coaching centres like MENTORS, Sunrise and Udvash are popular among students for preparation for admission tests. Students, however, need to fulfill the result requirements of their SSC/O-levels and HSC/A-levels to be eligible to sit for the admission tests. Different universities have different ranges of result requirements.
To discuss about applying abroad, the first thing to accept is that it is usually a lengthy process. A student must begin with the selection of the country where they want to go for studying and the appropriate university for the subject they want to study. Different countries have different requirements and so do different universities. For example– students need to sit for IELTS to get into most of the universities in the UK whereas most of the universities in the USA require students to sit for SAT. USA, UK, Canada and Australia are good options to go for. There are many good reputed colleges or universities in these countries. Students also consider few highly competitive universities in other countries like Singapore, Malaysia and China. However, most of the students among those who want to study abroad choose USA.
As mentioned earlier, appearing in SAT is mandatory for most of the universities in the USA. SAT II is optional and is usually taken by students to get scholarships, although, few elite/ivy league universities have made it compulsory. Most of the universities also require TOEFL but few accept IELTS as a substitute. It is recommended that students utilise their first year of HSC/A-levels in preparing and sitting for these exams and take the second year to complete the application procedures so that by the end of their HSC/A-levels they can take their admission decisions and get into universities in the same year. Otherwise, students may have to sacrifice one year from their academic life.
Applying at a US university directly through its website usually requires the payment of the application fee. But if the students open up a Common Application account, they can apply at member colleges for free. Most of the universities in the USA are members of Common Application. It is mandatory for students to write the Common Application essay on one of the topics that the Common Application provides. Student accounts are valid for one year. Every year, students open accounts by August and that is the time of the year when those topics are given. However, few universities also require students to write more essays on topics the universities provide. Applying through Common Application will also require your school counselor to send a recommendation letter for you and to upload your certificates and transcripts. The counselor needs to have an account on Common Application to do so.
Additionally, a few universities require the recommendation from one or two high school teachers. Most universities provide two options to apply, basically two time periods: 1) Early decision and 2) Regular decision. If you choose regular decision to apply, you can apply to as many universities as you want to. On the other hand, if you choose early decision, you can apply at only one institute and you are bound by a contract that says, if the university accepts you fulfilling your requirements, you are bound to go to that university and cannot choose any other university that year. The deadline for early decision comes earlier than that of regular decision.
The entire application process will require students to have all their necessary documents ready. These include school transcripts, proof of financial eligibility, passport copy, SSC/O-levels certificate, mid-year report and HSC/A-levels certificate if you have appeared the exam. If you have not yet completed the HSC/A-level exam, you can send the certificate once you have completed the exam and received your result. The SAT and TOEFL/IELTS scores are needed to be sent by the board in authority for the examinations. For example- SAT scores are sent by College Board and TOEFL scores are sent by ETS. Once you have added the colleges you want to apply to your Common Application account, you can see the deadlines for sending various documents and scores at different universities. By the 1st of January, most universities require students to complete the application procedures and by April, all the admission decisions are sent to students. It is highly recommended that students apply at 2-3 universities from the elites/ivy leagues, at 6-7 highly competitive universities where they have a better chance to get admitted into and those match their standard of education, and at 2-3 universities where they are pretty sure that they will get in if not even at other universities.