AT FIRST, I wanted to be an “Isko.” I spent my whole junior year preparing for the University of the Philippines College Admission Test.
My parents signed me up for review classes in the summer. I bought books, reviewers and sample exams.
I thought I had it all planned out, until God led me to a different path. Everything changed when I stumbled upon CAMP (College Admissions Mentors for Peers) Philippines on Face-book.
CAMP Philippines is a nonprofit, student-run organization that helps Filipino students
apply at their dream schools abroad.
I had many questions and yet a huge part of me just wanted to try. I pictured myself studying in Harvard, buried in books at one of its great libraries. I could join the newspaper club at the University of Pennsylvania or the dance troupe at Berkeley.
I wondered what it would be like to immerse myself in a different culture, to represent my country and one day bring glory to it.
But with my imagination came the fear of the unknown. How do I achieve my dream of studying abroad?
Learning the ropes
I signed up for the CAMP Mentorship Program where Filipino high school students are paired with mentors currently studying in colleges all over the world.
After a few days, I was greeted by the warm and bubbly Michi Ferreol. She was a Harvard student at the time, and my CAMP mentor.
She was in the United States, and we would chat on Skype and Facebook. During our first few conversations, she asked how I did in school, my favorite and worst subjects, my extracurricular activities.
In her view, I needed to be well-rounded to catch the attention of admission officers.
Michi basically showed me the ropes of the application process. Without her, I wouldn’t have known where to start.
Michi warned me that applying in schools abroad is never easy. And indeed it wasn’t. I spent nights expanding my vocabulary, solving geometry problems and practicing how to write my essay for the SAT (Standardized Admissions Test).
I had to instruct my teachers on how to write recommendation letters because it’s a whole new game in the international setting. I crammed my essays over the Christmas break and submitted my application just minutes away from the deadline.
Applying in schools abroad was a test of strength. There were times when I felt like giving up, but the wallpaper on my phone, which was a logo of my dream school, reminded me to keep going. And I was glad I did.
After a few months, I received acceptance letters from different universities. I thanked everyone who offered support, guidance and encouragement in my toughest year yet, most especially CAMP to whom I owe my success.
I made my journey with CAMP, and you can start your own now. Learn more about the college application process in CAMP’s fourth annual Study Abroad Conference. It will be held at the International School Manila in Taguig City on Aug. 13.
The conference is a whole-day event featuring talks
from eminent change-makers, breakout sessions, one-on- one mentoring and the much anticipated college fair.
Register as a participant at tinyurl.com/CAMPConferenceStudent. For parents, register at tinyurl.com/CAMPConferenceParent and for teachers at tinyurl.com/CAMPConferenceTeacher. Registration ends July 29.