How to Nail the UWC Application

With forms, a personal statement, medical records, possible academic tests, first and second interviews, applying to the United World Colleges is no joke, and it may seem intimidating. Hopefully, these pointers will help simplify your application.

Not everyone will have to go through all the processes listed above; the components of the application will vary depending on whether you apply directly to a specific school, or via a national committee, in which case your application will also differ depending on your nationality. Now, regardless of the channel through which you apply, some core considerations apply universally  – here are my tips.

Work hard. When considering your application, the committee will want reassurance of your academic capacity and motivation. The IB is rigorous, and requires substantial effort from students, and the application committee will want to feel confident that you’ll be capable not only of doing well in the IB, but of doing so well that you’ll also have time for extracurricular activities on campus. This, after all, is just as important as academics in a United World College.

Take initiative. As UWC is keen on selecting students who are motivated to make an impact in the world, and to actually go the extra mile to see that change come into effect,   it’s important for the committee to see that you are active and involved, may it be in drama, politics, sport or what have you.

Stay true. Be truthful about who you are and think long and hard about why you want to attend one of the colleges. The committees know very well who would be suitable for a stay at UWC, and which college in particular. Therefore, a truthful application will augment your chances of an enriching and memorable experience.

The personal statement: write at least a couple drafts, and be sure to let some sharp people who know you well proofread them. Be sure to keep the information relevant; don’t waste space on formalities and unnecessary information.

The interview: the most important thing to be sure of, is why you’re applying, and to be able to speak about yourself. I prepared by looking through all sorts of political, economic and social issues and news, and was taken aback when they asked me to simply tell them about myself. So prepare your pitch, but try not to make it too robotic. Most people I’ve talked to felt that the interview went badly, so if it doesn’t go entirely as you would have liked, don’t worry.

Good luck with your application, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Tips for a Future Waterfordian


One of Many “Foam” Sessions

Before writing some closing remarks for this blog, I feel urged to compile a list of tips for future Waterfordians. In fact, I had quite a bit of fun doing it. Keep in mind that these tips are rooted in experience. Enjoy!

Consider the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to stay up late, rambling on with friends. “Foam” sessions hold intrinsic value.
  • Favela has the best showers in Emhlabeni – even if you don’t actually reside there!
  • Welile is the cab to call. Reach him @76636981, and let him know I gave you his number. You won’t regret it.
  • Make the most of the many extracurricular and service opportunities at Waterford. If you can’t find what  you’re looking for, start it!
  • A well-decorated cubie will quickly become a cozy home.
  • Learn to love pap and beef. Also chicken and rice.
  • When in Maputo, Nucleo De Arte is an absolute must.
  • Go to Joburg and stay at Curiosity Backpackers in Maboneng. It’s a hot place.
  • Eat butter chicken at Green Chilli.
  • Also, it’s ok to order butter chicken from Green Chilli and sit at Ocean Basket for their wine.
  • Go to House on Fire’s events. Go during the daytime, as well.
  • Take kombis – they’re cheap and fun. Maybe not on the Malanguane highway on a rainy day – safety is important.
  • Don’t be silly when it comes to overnight exeats – it’s easy to check out legitimately.
  • Nights are more fun if they include Solanis or Pub n’ Grill.
  • Camp at Bushfire (!), and don’t be afraid to talk to random people – you’ll have fun.
  • If you decide to go to Moonlight, don’t go alone.
  • When IB gets heavy, take a walk around campus, and reflect on how immensely privileged you are to live in such a wonderful place.
  • Nights at the Millin are more fun with beer-pong.
  • When going to a jol, quarts (660 ml) of beer can be bought for R13 at spazas.
  • Recommended backpackers (+) in Swaziland: Legends, Sundowners, Cathmar, Sondzela, Veki’s Village (NOT Veki’s guesthouse)
  • Try to keep your cubie at least relatively clean. Life will be nicer.
  • Maintain a good relationship with the staff – both teachers and others. It’ll make your experience significantly easier.
  • If you’re well organized, you won’t need to pull the notorious all-nighters. I did only one, and I wasn’t even particularly organized – win.
  • Mrs. Tinney is a sweetheart. She will make sure you have a link family to stay with!
  • Appreciate that the babes and makes dedicate their time and hard work in order for you to live comfortably. Let them know that you appreciate them.
  • Scented candles from Mr. Price Home give you a good return on your cash.
  • Appreciate your fellow students. These people will become your family, through thick and thin.
  • Have fun

Congratulations on being admitted to Waterford. Make the most of it!




An Exciting end to an Eventful Term

Once again, it’s time to say goodbye to Waterford and Swaziland for a while, and head north. I am glad to take a break; however, I will still pay attention to especially one happening in this Kingdom, over the holidays. Kwakha Indvodza, the first project sponsored by BOOST.

Kwakha Indvodza aims to provide personal and professional mentoring to young Swazi boys and men who have grown up in the absence of positive male role models. The organization is the first of its kind in a country that struggles with the highest prevalence of HIV and Tuberculosis in the world as well as a high rate of child-headed households.

With an ever growing presence of 50+ boys and 20+ mentors in the program, Kwakha Indvodza needs more support to grow its program and continue providing impactful mentoring to young Swazis.

We’re thrilled and proud to say that our tuck-shop in hostel has been fruitful enough that we can now make a substantial contribution to this organization. Over the holiday, Kwakha Indvodza is aiming to take over fifty teenagers and young men through internship programs in businesses in Swaziland, empowering them to enter the job market.

I will make sure to update you on the results of this program, as soon as we receive reports from the organization. To make a donation to Kwakha Indvodza, or to read more about what they do, click here.

Now it’s time for some rest, after which academic assessments and an extended essay outline await (…).

End-of-Term Reflections

My first term at Waterford has come to an end, and in a day and a half, I’ll be on my way to Johannesburg and from thereon home. This seems like a good time to reflect on some first impressions of Swaziland and of UWC.

When I was told I’d been offered a spot at UWC in Swaziland, I had only a vague idea of what life might be like here. Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence on the planet. However, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a more peaceful and welcoming culture.

I was told not to get disappointed if my experience didn’t turn out to be exactly as I expected it to. It didn’t. Yet, I’m far from disappointed. I love Waterford, and I’ll be forever thankful to my sponsors and my parents for giving me this opportunity. What’s so good about this place? I’ll give you a few examples.

  1. Everybody does something. Every individual in this school does something that is particularly interesting. In fact, there are so many clubs, activities and events to take part in that it’s physically impossible to participate in all of them.
  2. There is support for initiative. A couple of weeks ago, there was a school concert by the choir and some bands, and the assembly hall was packed. Not only was it a good concert – the excitement surrounding the concert was amazing, in and of itself. These sort of things happen regularly. Another noteworthy event was the theatre performances produced by the IB2s at the school. They made me want to take up acting again.
  3. Waterford challenges you, in all aspects of life. Firstly, the IB is rigorous, and the effort needed to achieve a good score is substantial. Secondly, having all these opportunities for extra curricular activities will force you to excel in your areas of interest. Thirdly, the community service opportunities at this school are plentiful. You can work with everything from puppies or recycling to government hospitals or local entrepreneurship. Fourthly, the social and cultural setting of the school is different from anything anyone who comes here is used to, simply because you won’t find the same combination of people anywhere else in the world. You will need to adapt, and respect others.

With all these things to to, naturally, UWC is tiering, and I look forward to a month of relaxation with friends and family.


How to Survive Your UWC Interview

A lot of UWC applicants are about to be interviewed by their national committees. Here are some tips that might help you out!

Be sure of why you’re applying, and structure your thoughts effectively. Making a short list, or talking to someone like your parents or friends about why you’re applying will encourage some healthy thinking here. By clearly and honestly arguing or at least explaining why you want to attend a UWC, not only will you seem convincing, you’ll also give the national committee information about you that makes it easier for them to place you into the UWC best suited for you. Trust me, they’re not all the same, and that’s a good thing.

Don’t be scared to speak about yourself. You can easily be a little self-centered without  coming off as pretentious. After all, this interview is about you. I prepared by looking through all sorts of political, economic and social issues and news, and was taken aback when the committee asked me to simply tell them about myself.

Most people I’ve talked to felt that the interview went badly, so if it doesn’t go entirely as you would have liked, don’t worry. The important thing is to know the simple stuff, know yourself. Other than that, there’s not really much you can do. So put on a big smile, crack a joke or two (if you can), and hope for the best. Remember that there is a reason why they picked you for the interviews, and not someone else. They do like you, at least a little bit, already.

Good luck!

UWC Applicants: Leverage Social Media!

Heads up, UWC applicants! Social media can be of great help both during and following your application process! Obtaining information about the colleges and connecting with fellow applicants, current students and alumni is easier than ever.

Even before the beginning of the application process, there are plenty of UWC applications Facebook groups. These are useful for asking questions and potentially talking to literally hundreds of likeminded people.

After receiving the brown paper envelope containing my letter of acceptance to Waterford, I quickly got in contact with some of my classmates to-be. We made groups on Facebook and Skyped a bunch. Sharing in this excitement can be a beautiful thing.

Lastly, Youtube is becoming increasingly useful. There are plenty of videos out there about the different schools, which might help you make your mind up about your top choices. Not to mention blogs, like this one – I know it all helped me!