“If you want to be challenged, if you want to enhance your learning power, if you want to be creative and innovative, if you want to be in a fast-paced and continuously developing environment, and if you want to be successful, education in the USA is for you,”says Seine Yumnam, a North American Manipur Association (NAMA) member.
I Am Here, So, You Can Be Too – By Seine Yumnam“If you want to be challenged, if you want to enhance your learning…
I am sitting at a Starbucks shop in front of the Bean, Chicago, USA. I still can’t believe what I am seeing now in front of me. I only used to see it in movies. Of one the movies was The Vow. How fascinatingly unrealistic the world in front of me could get. Not because of its surrealistic nature but the seemingly exotic things that I thought I would never see.
I am reflecting, debating, and deliberating with myself on how I reached the point I am in now, an Undergraduate in one of the prestigious Liberal Arts College. On the hindsight, there is not much that I did. Well, I did some work but all those were not unfeasible. It can be done by anyone.
When I was in fifth grade, I had two plans: go through an intense two year IB program during my 11th and 12th grade, and then attend a college in the USA. What were the underlying reasons for me to come up with such a plan at such a young age? I had two reasons. During that time my father, Amar Yumnam, was in the University of Southern California as a Fulbright Scholar. While he was in the USA, his morning was evening back in Manipur. Whenever he wakes up, he would talk to my mom and sometimes I would join her.
My father would always tell me the stark differences between the USA and Manipur. He would say, “There is no dirt, no holes on the road, no horn, but kind people.” I always conjured dreams of myself riding my dinosaur bicycle in the streets of LA. In addition to my father’s story, my eldest sister, JoshilaYumnam, was going through the IB Diploma program. She used to tell me about the intensity of the course and at the same time the fun involved in doing the studies. Both of them inspired me in every aspect of my life. I knew life would be challenging and tough and not all hopes can be fulfilled. I also knew that, regardless, there is no harm in having a hope. All we need to do is put in inputs at the right time. I had five years to go to an IB program and seven years to go to a USA college. I thought it was enough time for me and it really was.
Until my sixth grade, I never passed the grades with any ‘A’ grade. In fact, I never passed all the subjects. This is quite embarrassing to mention, but makes the point clear. I reached sixth grade by just touching the passing benchmarks. But things changed starting my sixth grade. All I needed was a spark of inspiration and a plan. With increasingly higher scores in my exams and better performance in the overall school activities, my hopes and plans looked more and more realistic and feasible. I gained confidence over the years. The two plans I had, kept me driving for the better result.
Five years later, I got into an IB Diploma program with scholarships. One plan coming true meant one less plan to worry about. The next two years all I had to work for was to get into a USA college. Such goals, I believe made all the differences for me. My goal wasn’t to get high scores, but something larger than that. Such minor achievements come by themselves when you have a driving force that pulls you forward and keeps your engine running. I was lucky to have got into an IB Diploma program. Schools that offer such courses are international schools, and they have strong career advising office. My school, Pathways World School, also had one. It was easier for me to look for advice on how to go about applying in colleges in the USA. Without a Career Advisor, it would have been much difficult.
I am here, so, you can be too.
The first thing I was told to do was prepare for SAT. Most people talk about it as ridiculously challenging, but the truth is, itjust requires some practice, and we all know how persistent Manipuris are. I practiced for SAT for couple of months usingthe College-board SAT bible. Consistent practice and reading helped me perform well in the exam. Well, to be frank it wasnot the most amazing score but good enough.
Colleges in USA also take into account the personality of the students as well. Only numbers and scores do not speak of the kind of personality one have. So, essays are major part of the decision making process to get into a USA college.
I applied to colleges in the USA through common application. It gave me five topics that I could choose from, and then write a 500 words essay. I chose the one in which I have to write about an experience and tell how that experience shaped me as a person and a young adult. I talked about the cease fire we had around 2002. As much as terrible it was it had something to teach me and craft me in a way other experiences could not have done. This is a whole another story though. Besides this mandatory essay, there were other optional essays that I could write to portray my personality and qualities. These essays make one stand out of the other forty thousand applicants. Colleges in USA want to hear from your teachers about you as well. When I applied, I had my Physics, Math, and Economics teachers write recommendations for me. I still don’t know what they wrote about me. It is confidential, I guess. The important point here is that while looking for teachers to get recommendation from, one needs to be very careful.
Some teachers are optimistic and believe that you will ultimately improve in the long-run. Some are very pessimistic and] mean. One has to be very picky in this case and choose the teacher whom you think you have better relationship with.
Last but not the least, colleges in the USA ask for a document called transcript also. For me, my transcript had my tenth grade result, my CV, and my predicted IB grade. CV was a summary of my experiences such as internships and community services. With all of these – SAT score, three recommendations, personal essays, and the transcript- I was all set to apply. I started applying by September 2012. In USA, the colleges have semesters. Fall semester is from August to December, and spring semester is from January to May. So, to get into the fall of 2015, one needs to start applying during the fall of 2014, around September. But it also depends on the deadline that the colleges have. Some colleges accept applications till March which is not very usual. That’s how I applied for colleges here in USA. One more thing, the fees here are exponentially high and it is growing every year, so it is barely possible to support such kind of fees without scholarships. Not every Universities offer scholarships to international students, but most do. One just needs to search for them.
If you want to be challenged, if you want to enhance your learning power, if you want to be creative and innovative, if you want to be in a fast-paced and continuously developing environment, and if you want to be successful, education in the USA is for you.
I am here, so, you can be too.
That’s what I have got to tell everyone who aspire to study here in USA for Undergraduate (graduate in Indian system of education). There is nothing impossible about it. The idea that USA is only for the rich and the genius is a myth. Otherwise I probably won’t be writing this. With determination in my mind, hopes in my heart, and wishes in my pocket, I have reached where I am now and have much more to venture in life. I hope whoever reads this finds it useful. I need to go take some pictures with the bean. For any further questions, I am always available at [email protected].
About the Writer:
Seine Yumnam is an Undergrad at Wabash College, Indiana, U.S.A. He is majoring in Economics and minoring in Mathematics. Coming to the U.S.A was a plan he made when he was in 5th grade. Everything he did during his middle and high school had a goal, that is, to get into a University in the U.S. 7 years down the line, he did, and he is already about to complete his college. Going forward, he wants to pursue a career in the Financial Services Industry where he can invest in the stock market. That being said, he wants to be resourceful and assist anyone who needs help, especially throughout the processes of applying to the U.S.A. Colleges and Universities. He says that he is not a certified or a professional advisor, but he can, hopefully, offer some insights. Please contact Seine Yumnamvia email: [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn: Seine Yumnam
Published by: North American Manipur Association (NAMA). Follow us on FaceBookhttps://www.facebook.com/North-American-Manipur-Association-NAMA-183898871646820/?fref=ts&__mref=messagefor regular updates on NAMA news and articles.