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Chasing a Dream

What you need to know before, during and after your application to the United States

What does it take to obtain full scholarship in the United States?” Many of you might be pondering over this question. I too had the same curiosity about two years back. Frankly, there is no definite answer to this question, but there were certainly a few things I did right. And there are some things that I wish I could change.

Success never comes easy, sometimes it does for some, and sometimes you might have to wait. I did. I waited two years of my life and now, finally, I can call myself a student again. It sure was a hard wait though – my mom always used to scream at me—
“SHREE!!!! (Hajur)… Kati hallera baschas! (Halleko chaina k mommy) CHUPP!!!! Bihe garne bela vaisakyo, tero padhai ko tungo kaile lagcha! Khuru khuru Pulchowk jane aba!”

Despite my mom’s sweet words, I never gave up my persistence to apply to the United States. It is not that education in Nepal is not up to the mark - some courses in Nepal can be more challenging than courses in the USA– but the research opportunities in Nepal were scarce. But this did not match my career goals. Since I was a child, stars and planets always took the best of my interest and I was ready to take the risk of having a huge gap in my academics if that was what it took for me to chase my dream. It sometimes gives me shivers thinking what would have happened if things had not worked out. If I could have changed anything, I would definitely have at least filled the application form of Pulchowk, as it would have saved me from all the stress of not having a backup plan.

Before you apply: Weigh your risk or at least have a backup plan!
Please do not be scared or withdrawn from my previous statement. The one thing I realized is that I was not alone. There are thousands of high school students in Nepal who are taking, or have taken the same decision. A country as small as Nepal, ranks eleventh in active international student population in the entire United States, so the capabilities of a Nepalese student is undoubtedly strong. However, proper guidance, research, and information on applying to the United States is very essential. The advisers at USEF have my gratitude for guiding me through the whole application process. If it had not been for the Opportunity Funding Program at USEF, I would have still been taking a gap year trying to make money for my application cost. And not to forget, I made a lot of friends there to whom I am equally grateful, for giving me a chance to learn from them.

Once you’ve decided: Use the information at USEF –the more you go, the more you know
So basically what I was doing, was trying to sell myself to a person in the other side of the world who would need a fair number of reasons to invest thousands of dollars on me, and I had to do it with a few pages of application that would serve as my identity. The personal statement is perhaps the most important component of the whole application. No pressure intended. Frankly, I was unable to sleep at nights thinking about what to write in my personal statement. Feeling pressured never helped at all but what did help was starting to write it a few months before the application deadline.
While you apply: Be sure not to stress yourself out too much

The most grueling time is when you are waiting for the decision. Staring at the college web-portal and pressing the refresh button every minute, an hour before the decision is released does not help. Trust me! Instead, going out with friends and having a good time helps veer your attention away.
After you apply: Take a deep breath and sing “All is well”
On the side note: My mom is happy now and I am too. I feel blessed to be a part of Rollins College, and I never feel tired of saying this, “Dreams really do come true!”

Shree Raj Shrestha is a freshman at Rollins College, Florida, USA. He plans to major in Physics.
Articles in this section are written by former advisees of USEF-Nepal’s EducationUSA Advising Center located in Gyaneswor, Kathmandu. USEF provides students in Nepal with accurate, reliable, unbiased, and free information and advice on U.S. higher education.