Applying to UWC for a second time – what made all the difference?

Applying to UWC for a second time – what made all the difference?

Application processes differ depending on where you are from, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that getting into UWC is not easy. Rejection definitely isn’t easy to deal with either, so if you have decided that you want to apply for a second time- I’m proud of you for putting yourself out there again! If you’re still on the fence, asking yourself “Should I try to apply to UWC again?”, still debating whether or not it’s worth it, you might want to ask yourself whether this is something you really, truly want. If the answer to that question is yes, then apply again!

In this post I’ll outline some of the things that you should do to apply for a second time, as well as answer questions regarding my grades and what I did in the summer between.

I hope you will find something in this post helpful! 😊 But first, here are some reasons why I think applying twice is great:

1. Some years UWC simply might not have a scholarship available for the school you want to go to, or not enough scholarships available for all qualified candidates. Getting rejected doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not the right fit!

2. Applying twice demonstrates interest and dedication! Your national committee wants to send people that are truly passionate about UWC, and there can be no doubt in their mind that you care about UWC if you apply for a second time a year after getting rejected.

3. I really enjoyed the selection weekend, both the first and the second time I applied and I am actually still in contact with someone I met during one of them (in addition to my lovely co-years of course). Regardless of the committee’s final decision, you get to meet some great people with similar views and ideals and experience some of the UWC spirit.

4. You will consciously devote more time to growth and personal development during the year leading up to your next application. This may not be the same experience for other people, but I definitely felt this and see it as one of the many positives that came out of my decision to apply again. A year is a long time in which a lot of internal change can happen, so if you just got rejected- don’t despair! I feel like in the year between I made so many valuable experiences and truly worked on improving myself, and I’m not sure whether that would’ve been the case had I decided not to apply a second time.

5. It could lead to an acceptance! Personally, I never even thought about not trying again after I got rejected. Rejection was already in the back of my mind early on, therefore I was already telling myself “Oh well, you will apply again next year anyways!”. Surprisingly to me, I was one of the very few who thought so. Out of the 26 people at the selection weekend, only 3 applied again (one of them being me) and 2 out of those 3 got in that second time. You literally have nothing to lose, but possibly a life-changing experience to gain.


Applying again – a story in three parts

1. The year and summer leading up to it

You have one year, or at least a whole summer to add some extra ✨spice✨ to your second application – make that time count! This is the most important part of this whole process (and the most time consuming, obviously). If your schedule is already fully packed with extra curriculars that you are passionate about, don’t worry too much, they don’t want you to change your entire identity; but they do want you to grow and collect new experiences, so make sure to plan things for the summer! If you feel like you had trouble coming up with activities to write on your application, you could use this year for experimentation, joining or trying out different activities at school or outside of school.

Whether it be summer camps, volunteering, leadership opportunities, or joining/creating a new club at school, there are plenty of ways in which you can challenge yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy, like going abroad for a camp, you could just as well volunteer in your own community. Any experience that you will learn things from is valuable.

For Germans nationals or residents, I suggest you check out ijgd (Internationale Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste).

ijgd has an immense amount of partner volunteering organisations in other countries! If you are not from Germany but are interested in volunteering, check out the list on this website to find your country.

ijgd offer a huge variety of volunteering opportunities and camps in many different fields, both in and outside of Germany, so whatever you are interested in I’m sure you’ll be able to find something! In the summer after my rejection and before my second application I took part in two of their camps, one media creation in Hamburg and one environmental conservation camp in France, and I had such a great time.

2. Writing the second application

If you made sure to collect new experiences and challenge yourself in the year/summer, you already did most of the work! Whatever experiences you had, you are now able to write about them, recollect what you learned and add new, interesting things to your application that weren’t there the year before.

That being sad: I know writing the second application can be hard. You likely won’t become a completely different person in the span of a year, but the questions are the exact same. If you still feel connected to your answer from the year before, don’t feel like you have to write something completely different! I even left one of the four essays the exact same, because I still felt like it reflected my views, feelings and opinions, even one year after writing it. (It was to the question “Please write an essay of no more than 300 words, explaining why you are interested in joining the UWC movement while reflecting on UWC’s mission and values, what you might contribute to a UWC and what you would hope to gain from the experience.”) As always, if you are unsure just send your national committee an email, explaining that some of your answers from the year before are still accurate and you still see yourself in them, and if it’s okay to leave them the same.

3. The selection weekend + interviews

Like I said before, if you collected new experiences in the year/summer leading up to your second application, this gives you so much new and interesting conversation material! Also, even though I said you probably didn’t become a whole new person, you definitely grew, became more confident and mature, even if you yourself can’t see it.

I promise you the second time round is less stressful. No two selection weekends are the same, but since you already went through one of them, a lot of the uncertainty surrounding it will be gone and you will have a general idea of how things work and what type of activities will be in the program. Personally, this took away a lot of stress for me and enabled me to go into it more confidently from the get-go. You kind of have an advantage over everyone else! You know how things work and you might even have feedback on your ‘performance’ from the year before (the Austrian committee gives you feedback on why you didn’t make it, I’m not sure about other countries), so you have pointers on what they would like to see or hear from you.

This is the time to show that you worked on yourself, demonstrate that you are a year older, with a year of new experiences under your belt. Reap the rewards of your work and planning in the summer: in the interview you will be able to talk about interesting things, new found passions, challenges you encountered and how you overcame them (provided that you wrote about them on your application- it might be hard to work them into the interview if you didn’t mention them in your application at all)

Demonstrate that you can act on and understand feedback (if they gave it to you). If they didn’t give you any feedback, take time in advance to reflect on what you could change or what could have been better. Personally, I already knew that I was too quiet and didn’t voice my opinions or suggestions even before I received the rejection email with the feedback.


Q&A

1. What were your grades at the moment of admission? Did it matter?

First of all, this depends so much on where you are from. I remember talking to friends in AC who were from Malaysia or Hong Kong, and them telling me about the high importance of grades in their application process. In the Austrian system however, grades most definitely are not everything. Personally, I just checked my applications and my grades were actually the exact same in both years, from 14 subjects I had three Cs, one B and the rest were As. One of my co-years had a 4 (Austrian grade, I think the letter equivalent would be D) in math, and they asked her about it in the interview, and she simply explained that math is something she always kind of struggled with, that she goes to tutoring to try and improve her grade, that it’s not what she wants to go into in the future, and that her relationship with the teacher was kind of tense as well. If, when they ask you about it, all you can say is “Eh well, I don’t really care, don’t wanna try hard in school”, that’s problematic. But grades can be influenced by so many factors, like mental health or teachers, and the people assessing your application understand that you can’t be great at everything. Regarding the Austrian system, I think the only actual requirement is that the sum of your grades in German, Math and English must not be higher than 10 (which is very feasible, you could have two 4s and a 2 and it’s still fine.)

2. What things do you think made a difference the second time you applied?

I would say that my written applications weren’t that different from one another. The selection weekend was definitely the biggest difference. The first time round, I made it to the selection weekend but not the final selection. The second time, however, I was much more confident, contributed more to group activities and was more secure in my opinions (if you want tips for the whole application process and selection weekend, check out my ultimate selection weekend/interview guide here). It’s hard to pinpoint, as this will be different from person to person, but basically I listened to the feedback they gave me, which essentially said that I was too quiet and it often seemed like I had ideas or opinions but was too scared to voice them, generally holding myself in the background (all of which were true lol). The only reason why I was able to be more confident the second time was because of what what I did in the year/summer leading up to it! The experiences and opportunities I was a part of enabled me to grow as a person, therefore I want to stress this point again: make the most of your time before your next application.

3. Can I submit the same application as the year before? How different should my application be from last year?

I already touched on this in this post, but basically I would recommend asking yourself whether you still feel like your answer/essay reflects your current views, opinions and feelings. I left one essay the exact same, and some answers on the application as well, so I would say it’s completely fine to leave some things the same. I would not recommend submitting the exact same application. This only shows your national committee that you went through no personal growth and didn’t collect any new experiences that you could talk about in your application. If you are unsure, just send your national committee an email and ask them if they have any guidelines or requirements for this.

4. What are the age requirements for being able to apply again the following year? How do I know if I can apply again?

This differs from counry to country. Check your national committee’s website to see if they outline the age requirements, and if not simply send them an email. For Austria, you can apply when you are 15 and when you are 16. However, I still remember that there were people at both of the selection weekends who were older than that, so there may be exceptions to the rule. Generally, asking never hurt noone, so if you really, truly want to apply again, you can write an email saying how much you want this, and they may let you apply a second time anyway, even if you are ‘too old’.

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