The idealistic becomes realistic.
Imagine a quixotic realm of Harry Potter proportions; a place brimming with new experiences: ancient castles, hot springs, diverse people, and international delicacies. Think of a place where people from all around the world are brought together under one mission, “UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and sustainability.” Now imagine the idealistic becoming realistic.
For any bright student who dreads coming to school every day because of the lack of enthusiasm, who craves a challenge and desires to broaden their cultural horizons, the United World Colleges are the ideal solution. With 200 students per school from over 80 different countries, UWC supply the opportunity to experience cultures and customs, an experience that requires some tolerance as well.
Another feature of UWC is the International Baccalaureate program. The IB curriculum consists of six subjects, three of which are taken at Higher Level, which means extra hours intended to further examine information and an extra research paper, and three subjects are taken at Standard Level, like a typical college class. No wonder that IB students are always on the verge of narcolepsy.
Creativity, Action, Service (CAS), is a requirement for graduation. A certain amount of participation in each is required to graduate. Creativity means to express oneself eloquently through writing, music, photography, etc. Action is the participation in physical activities and is required for all four semesters, such as world dance, martial arts, and soccer. Service emphasizes the idea of giving back.
The Extended Essay (EE), is a 4,000 word research paper on a topic of the student’s choice. It has been described as a mini thesis paper normally written by college seniors; it is due in the second semester of the second year.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK), is meant to for students to question reality. There is also a paper that the student is required to write, on a topic that has been chosen for them.
Within the United World Colleges, there are 12 branches located in different countries throughout the world. Students live together on campus and constantly battle against sleeplessness and procrastination. Originally, Italy was my first choice; however, the admissions staff makes an effort to place people in their top five schools, therefore I was offered a place in the United States.
The admissions process was burdensome, an elimination process that began with first meeting the requirements of sending in recommendations and writing essays. Then interviews were held in certain locations throughout the U.S.A. I, however, could not make mine in Wisconsin, but was able to do two Skype interviews instead. Afterwards was the long waiting period, and school grades need to be kept up during this period otherwise an acceptance could later be withdrawn. The application process itself was challenging, but rewarding; the 50 U.S. students that are accepted receive a full tuition scholarship that covers classes, books, room and board, and food.
It is frightening to envision spending two years in a completely new setting, living every day surrounded with people that had to fight just to be there. Questions and doubts arise as to whether or not my own schooling has prepared me for what is about to come. After all, these people had to go through their own admissions and many countries only send one or two representatives to the United World Colleges. Leaving my family and friends will be a challenge, but hopefully, like the admissions process, will be rewarding as well.