Hi! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Sunday 19 October 2014

The process of my application to universities

I obtained 4A* for A Level and AS Level and 9A+ 1A for SPM. Some people may think that with such academic results, I will have no problems in my application to universities. However, in reality the process of my application to universities had not been smooth and easy. In fact, I had to go through several challenges and disappointments in my application to universities. Here, I am sharing the entire process of my application to universities.

On 29 July 2013, I started applying to UK universities through UCAS. I chose University of Cambridge, University College London (UCL), Imperial College London (ICL) and King's College London (KCL) for Medicine course. I was required to write a personal statement for the application, which I felt was a difficult task. Therefore, I delayed submitting the application. Later, the deadline of the application to Cambridge which was 12 August 2013 had passed, so I chose to apply to University of Oxford instead of University of Cambridge. The deadline of the UCAS application for Medicine course was on 17 September 2013. I started writing my personal statement just a few days before the deadline. I finished writing the personal statement on time, but I had no time to have it checked by anyone. To me, my personal statement seemed to be quite satisfactory. I submitted the UCAS application on 17 September 2013 itself. 

Oxford, UCL and ICL required me to take the BMAT test while KCL required me to take the UKCAT test. I was only able to sit for BMAT but not UKCAT, because the deadline had already passed when I tried to book a test centre for UKCAT. On 3 October 2013, I attended a mock interview for Oxford which was arranged by Taylor's College. I was quite nervous before the interview since this was the first time I attended an interview. The interview was quite difficult, but it was still easier than what I had expected. I thought that I performed quite well during the interview since I could answer most of the questions. However, the interviewer's remark on me was that I was an "unfortunate interviewee with poor communication skills" and he gave me grade C+ for the mock interview. I was a little disappointed but not too disappointed since grade C+ is actually still a pass.

On 3 December 2013, I was rejected by Oxford without being shortlisted for an actual interview. Oxford said that it was because the application to Oxford was too competitive. I did not feel too disappointed, as I was confident that I would be shortlisted for interview by at least one other UK university. Later that month, I also started my application to University of Hong Kong (HKU). Again, I was required to write a personal statement. I decided to just use the same personal statement that I used for my UCAS application earlier and make some minor changes to it. I submitted the application to HKU on 21 December 2013. At that time, I still did not have my actual A Level results so I had to use my forecast results to apply to universities.

In January 2014, I was first rejected by UCL, followed by ICL and then KCL. All of them did not shortlist me for interview. That made me feel very disappointed. Since I was rejected by all UK universities, I was allowed to apply to another UK university through UCAS Extra. However, for Medicine course very few universities were still open for application, and all those that were still open required the UKCAT test which I did not take. In other words, I had no more chance to study Medicine in UK. On 17 February 2014, I submitted my application to National University of Singapore (NUS). Actually, NUS did not accept forecast results for application to Medicine. However, I still applied to NUS, hoping that they might give me an offer for deferred entry in 2015. Later, I found out that NUS would not give offers for deferred entry. So, I did not pay the application fee. My application was automatically withdrawn after the payment deadline on 28 February 2014.

At that time, many Malaysian private universities were open for application. Initially, I planned to apply to International Medical University (IMU), AIMST University, Monash University Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia, Perdana University, UCSI University, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) and University Kuala Lumpur - Royal College of Medicine Perak (UniKL-RCMP), because all of them are in the list for JPA scholarship. I later realised that AIMST, CUCMS, UniKL-RCMP, UCSI and Monash Malaysia do not accept forecast results. I had to wait until my actual results is released in August 2014 before I could apply to those universities, but by then they are likely to be almost full except for Monash Malaysia where the intake is in March 2015.

Therefore, I could only apply to IMU, NUMed Malaysia and Perdana. I submitted the application for IMU on 21 February 2014. However, NUMed Malaysia required me to write a personal statement for the application. After I was rejected by all UK universities, I suspected that my personal statement earlier might be poor so I had to make some changes to it before using it to apply for NUMed Malaysia. At that time, I was quite busy preparing for my A2 Trial Examination. I decided to wait until after the A2 Trial Examination before I start writing the personal statement. At the same time, Perdana required me to submit a health examination report from my doctor. My doctor told me that the report would only be out a few weeks later.

At that time, many of my friends who applied to UK universities had received offers from at least one university. That made me want to have an offer from a UK university as well. Although I could not apply to any universities for Medicine course through UCAS Extra, I realised that I could still apply for other courses. I decided to apply to Kingston University London for Pharmacy course. Since Kingston is a very low ranked university, my chance of getting an offer should be quite high. However, even if they offered me a place, it is highly unlikely that I would be accepting it. What I wanted was just an offer from a UK university.

On 5 March 2014, out of my expectation, HKU sent me an email inviting me to attend an interview in Kuala Lumpur. I was very happy because that was the first time I was shortlisted for interview by a university. Moreover, I did not have to go to Hong Kong to attend the interview. Then on 7 March 2014, I received a phone call from IMU. IMU asked me to choose an interview date and I chose 29 May 2014 which was one week after my A2 Final Examination. I attended the interview for HKU on 16 March 2014. This was the first real interview that I attended. It consisted of both group and individual interview. The group interview was quite difficult, while the individual interview was easy. Later on that month, my health examination report for Perdana was finally out. I submitted the application for Perdana on 31 March 2014. Soon after that, Perdana invited me to attend an interview.

After my A2 Trial Examination, I wanted to write the personal statement for NUMed Malaysia. This time, I asked one of my friend who had a lot of experience in this for help. I showed her the personal statement that I used for my UCAS application earlier and asked her to help make the necessary changes to it. However, my friend said that my previous personal statement was very poor and I should completely rewrite the personal statement. My A2 Final Examination would be starting soon so I was busy doing revision at that time. Therefore, I decided to write the personal statement only after the examination.

On 15 April 2014, I received an offer from Kingston for Pharmacy course. Even though Kingston is a low ranked university and the offer was not for Medicine course, I still felt happy because at least my UCAS application wasn't a complete failure. However, I would not be accepting the offer. Then on 25 April 2014, I attended the interview for Perdana. The interview was moderately difficult and I was quite confident of being offered a place. However, I received a letter from Perdana on 6 May 2014 which stated that I was rejected by them. I felt extremely disappointed. My parents were also disappointed. The fact that I was rejected even by a local university meant that my interview skills was really poor. Actually, one of my close friend also attended an interview for another university on the sane day as my interview for Perdana, and although he said that his interview was very difficult, he was successful in getting an offer.

Soon after that, it was my A2 Final Examination. My focus on doing revision for the exam partly helped reduce my disappointment. I was worried that other universities might also reject me due to my poor interview skills, so I also applied to SEGi University as a backup option. Since the ranking of SEGi is not high, I felt that my chance of getting an offer should be quite high. I submitted the application on 19 May 2014. After the exam ended, I started writing the personal statement for NUMed Malaysia. I rewrote the whole personal statement from scratch. After reading this personal statement, my friend said that it was a great improvement over the previous one but it was still not good enough. With her help, I corrected a part of the personal statement every day.

On 29 May 2014, I attended the interview for IMU. The interview was not difficult but I was not too confident of being offered a place because I was rejected by Perdana earlier. I was quite worried because if IMU rejected me, it is very likely that I would also be rejected by other universities. I kept praying that I would get an offer from IMU. On 31 May 2014, IMU telephoned me to inform me that they had offered me a place for Medicine. I felt very happy and relieved about that. I then received the conditional offer letter on 3 June 2014. After that, on 4 June 2014, SEGi telephoned me and asked me to attend an interview. I chose to be interviewed in late July.

On 5 June 2014, I finished making all the necessary corrections for my personal statement for NUMed Malaysia and my friend told me that it was good enough to be submitted. I submitted the application to NUMed Malaysia on that day. Then on 9 June 2014, NUMed Malaysia sent me an email which states that I had been shortlisted for interview. This proved that the personal statement really played an important role in the application process. I attended the interview for NUMed Malaysia on 25 June 2014. The interview was not difficult but again, I was not too confident of getting an offer. I really liked NUMed Malaysia after going there for the interview so I hoped that I would be offered a place. However, I did not feel too worried about that because even if I was rejected, I could still study Medicine at IMU.

On 26 June 2014, I received a conditional offer from NUMed Malaysia. I felt very happy, because for the first time I was offered a place for Medicine by a UK university, even though it was the Malaysia campus. This also proved that my interview skills was not too bad. However, the conditions of the offer was 3A in A level including Chemistry and Biology. This made me feel a bit worried as I was not 100% confident of getting A for Biology. After receiving offers from both IMU and NUMed Malaysia, I regretted applying to SEGi earlier. However, I had paid the non-refundable application fee so I decided to just attend the interview. I could also use that as an opportunity to practise and improve my interview skills. On 25 July 2014, my offer from Kingston for Pharmacy was automatically withdrawn because I did not accept it before the deadline. Then on 5 August 2014, I attended the interview for SEGi. The interview was not difficult, but it was not as easy as what I had expected and it lasted for a long time. SEGi then telephoned me on 8 August 2014 to tell me that they offered me a place.

On 12 August 2014, my actual A Level results was out and I obtained 4A*. I was very happy because I met the conditions of the offer from NUMed Malaysia. I sent my results to NUMed Malaysia, HKU and IMU. Both NUMed Malaysia and IMU then converted my conditional offer to unconditional offer. However, HKU still did not reply me. On 15 August 2014, I informed SEGi that I no longer wanted to study there. After that, I also telephoned IMU on 21 August 2014 to tell them to withdraw the offer. Then on 27 August 2014, HKU finally rejected me. They said that it was because the application to HKU was too competitive. I did not feel too disappointed about that since I was offered a place by NUMed Malaysia which is also a very good university. 

With that, all the universities that I had applied to have replied me. I made my final decision to study Medicine course at NUMed Malaysia and I accepted its unconditional offer on 29 August 2014. I started studying at NUMed Malaysia on 22 September 2014.

From this story, it is clear that getting the best academic results will not guarantee you a place at any university, especially for competitive courses like Medicine. Other factors such as interview performance and personal statement are also very important. To increase your chance of being offered a place, you should apply to as many universities as possible. Hope everyone will learn something from this story.