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An International Master Student in Norway – The Application Process

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For those who are not familiar with my journey to Norway (read the article here), I’ll just mention that the desire to study in Norway did not come over night for me. I had this GOAL for 6 years, and I have worked towards it, NO MATTER WHAT. If you are curious about my journey to Norway, please feel free to read my blog post on that.

Six years is a lot of time to be waiting for the fulfillment of one GOAL, I know, I know. But when I look at the benefits that I am collecting now, I look back at those years, and all I have to say is that it has been worth it every single day.

I will not start by telling you what I did all those 6 years, before I moved to Norway, but I will track back to the year before my application, because it was then when I started to be actively involved, and prepared the application. It was 2012, January, I remember how eager I was to start that year. Although the application deadline was 1ST of December 2012 (for the August 2013 intake), I couldn’t wait until then. All those years I have been preparing, and studying as hard as I could (while having full time jobs), in order to have good grades, to ensure that I will get accepted in at least one of the programs. Now was the time when I could do more than just that. I needed to start being active.

I am planner, and I have been a planner my entire life. So, there is no surprise there that I started my application process 11 months prior to the deadline. I made a PLAN OF ACTIONS. With DEADLINES. I wanted to make sure that everything was not done good, but PERFECT.

I made a list with the documents I needed, a list with the language requirements, and of course, a list with the master programs I wanted to apply to. To make the list with the documents needed and the language requirements was not so time consuming, but I spent a lot of hours/days/weeks and even months before I finalized my options for master degrees. I have applied to 2 universities in Norway: NTNU (Trondheim) and University of Stavanger (UiS). Honestly, I even applied to a university in the Netherlands (Eindhoven University). Now, when I think about it, I feel a bit ashamed, because it shows a bit that I did not trust my own skills that much (that I would get accepted in Norway). But I always prepare for plan B. Just in case. And plan B didn’t mean that I was giving up my plan to live in Norway. Plan B was for me just another step to get me closer to Norway. When I got the acceptance letter from the Netherlands, I did not accept it. It was a month (or two) before my acceptance to the Norwegian university. By that time, I was so motivated and so convinced that I will get into studying in Norway, that I burned my own bridge by saying NO to the option from the Netherlands. Sometimes, in order for us to say YES to an amazing opportunity, we have to say NO to a lot of good opportunities. This was one of those moments. I believed in myself and in my own application, and I had the courage to say NO to a very good opportunity – and that was to study in the Netherlands.

Back to my application, now. Once I found my options for the master programs I wanted to apply to, made a list with the questions and doubts that I had. And then I started sending emails. It is true that there is a lot of information out there about the application process, however, I felt that not all my questions where answered. I did spend tens of hours finding the information by myself online, and some of it I found, but still there were questions that I still needed to clarify more. Here is a print screen of the first email I sent to NTNU (in august 2012 – I waited specifically for the new school year to started – since I knew that everybody was in vacation between June and August).

And here is the answer I got:

It is funny now to go back to 2012 and see how I was thinking and acting then. This was more than 9 years ago. I sent similar emails to the University in Stavanger as well. I was all over the place. I wanted to make sure I was equipped with all the information needed. Failure was not an option for me.

I scheduled my TOEFL test for 27th of October. I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to retake it in case of failure. Little did I know how easy was to pass that exam. I almost got the maximum score (117 out of 120 points). That is why I always recommend people to take the TOEFL test 😀 Since then I helped 5 more friends to pass the test, and they all did 😊

Gathering all the documents, translating them was not an easy chore (not to difficult either), but time-consuming. It was so good that I had everything planned in advance. I remember I had a preliminary application (with deadline 1st of December) and if I were selected further, then I would go to the second step of the application and send all the documents needed. I was over the moon when I got the email from NTNU that I had been selected to the next step, and I was supposed to upload all the documents before 1st of February. Awesome. (I know, dates are different now, they have changed a bit the admission process since 2012).

I also got my rejection letter from UiS, and here is a printscreen of one of the rejections (I got 3 of them, for three different programs).

 Yes, although my GPA was really high (3.83 out of 4), that was not enough. Why? For several reasons:

  1. My bachelor was in Petroleum Processing and Petrochemistry, not EXACTLY on Petroleum Engineering- so if you apply to a very competitive program, and your academic background doesn’t fit exactly the profile for your master program, chances are you are not even going to be selected to be considered (so, adios good grades, good motivational letter, etc). However, I assume that those with EXPERIENCE from petroleum engineering might have different results.
  2. The university you took your bachelor’s degree from, has a different status in Norway. Depending on the performance of a specific university at a international scale, your GPA might go a little bit higher (if you studied at Oxford, Harvard, etc), or a little bit (or more) lower. In my case, I know for sure that It went down to around 4.5 (not that much, but still).

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