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How to enter the University of Pennsylvania, where Elon Musk studied: the experience of Kazakhstanis

Maksutbek Aitmaganbet and Olzhas Sakenov from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, told how they entered and studied at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. The project writes about it WE.

Photo: Shutterstock

Maksutbek Aitmaganbet, 39 years old, Nur-Sultan city, entrepreneur, deputy director of Altyn Qyran Group, executive director of the PF Altyn Qyran Foundation:

About choosing a university and admission

I chose not a university, but a specialty. I was looking for a master's program related to both education and entrepreneurship. Chose Education Entrepreneurship - the program was created by the School of Education in conjunction with the Wharton School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania. The program is interdisciplinary, practice-oriented and fully met my expectations.

I have known the University of Pennsylvania for a long time. He is in the Ivy League, I visited him more than once before entering. The campus of the university is located in Philadelphia, near Washington and New York. Almost all faculties are the best in their field. Wharton School of Business is one of the most famous and prestigious schools of the university, annually ranked in the top 3 business schools in the world. Elon Musk studied at the engineering school.

The admission process is standard. You need to write a motivational essay, resume, provide an IELTS or TOEFL certificate, three letters of recommendation and answer questions in an online questionnaire. The most important thing is to prove to the admissions committee that you are suitable for this program, that during your studies you will be able not only to gain knowledge, but also to share your experience with professors and students.

At the time of admission, I had been working in the field of international youth exchange for 15 years. He also received a recommendation from the former dean of his university, another from a foreign work partner, and a third from the Consul General of the US Embassy, ​​since our company has been cooperating with the consular department for a long time.

In preparation, I participated in an online webinar, where they talked about admission, and visited the university during the Open House. He successfully completed several courses of Professors Wharton and the School of Education on Coursera, which was later indicated in the resume.

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About the features of training

This is my first study in the USA, so everything was new. For example, professors send lesson materials in advance for study it needs to be done before the lecture. In addition, the use of any other materials was encouraged. The principle of American education is that there should always be an alternative view of any issue. It's bad if you don't have your own worldview or other opinion. I liked it.

I also liked that the professors are open. You can drink coffee with them, talk outside the audience, share your opinion. In the first days of study, the program director invited us all to visit.

Each professor has assistants. It is convenient for both the professor and the students.

Disadvantages are hard to find. For example, there was not enough usual food. It was also amazing to see poor neighborhoods literally seven streets from the campus of one of the best universities in the world.

About UPenn's atmosphere

The atmosphere has always been energetic and joyful. Especially on the main street of the campus, where you can meet all the university students. Someone is drinking coffee with textbooks in hand, someone is doing a project with fellow students, someone is running to the gym.

What did the university give

The university taught me not to be afraid to change my life and to look at the world from different angles. Always look for an alternative and a better solution. During my studies, I acquired excellent mentors in the person of professors, with whom I still keep in touch. I have made many friends. Last year, two of my fellow students visited me, and I visited another in Vietnam.

After graduation, I founded the Alumni Club of the University of Pennsylvania in Kazakhstan, we help with all admission advice.

UPenn is one of the best universities in the world. But I recommend choosing not a university, but a specialty and professors.

Olzhas Sakenov, 36 years old, Nur-Sultan city, product manager of BTS Education:

About choosing a university and admission

I studied abroad under the Bolashak program. In 2015, he took a one-year language program at the University of California, San Diego. Then he returned to Kazakhstan and for about a year was preparing to enter the magistracy.

He planned to combine study in the USA and study of the country. Selected among mid-level universities: Boston, Washington and the University of Miami. But in the process of preparation, the girl-curator who helped me in writing the essay suggested that I try my hand at top universities. I liked the International Education Development program at the University of Pennsylvania, which included summer internships anywhere in the world.

As a result, I entered all four universities. Chose UPenn.

When applying for admission, it is important to understand what exactly you need, choose a direction that inspires and motivates you. You also need to pay attention to the city in which the university is located: what is the climate, rhythm, cost of living, furnishings - hto make you feel comfortable.

On the subject: 10 small US universities, after graduation from which it is easy to find work

About the features of training

I liked that the process of studying at the university is unobtrusive. You can concentrate on what interests you. For example, we had five compulsory subjects, and we could choose another five courses on our own. These could be objects of completely different directions.

Almost 30 people studied in our group. 50% of them were international students and 50% were Americans. Many already had solid experience, visited different countries, worked as volunteers, and participated in charitable programs. These were people who linked life with education and the development of human capital. Each of us brought our own point of view based on our own experience. It was interesting.

About UPenn's atmosphere

The university has many interest groups and communities. Every week there were meetings with politicians and public figures, where you could come, listen to interesting information and even have a snack.

There were clubs that organized cultural and sports events. All these events could be attended, met people, and learned new things.

All this creates a pleasant atmosphere on the campus. It was interesting to move around the campus, explore it.

What did the university give

Our program was related to the activities of international organizations in different countries. I realized that the world is multifaceted, but all countries have similar problems that are not easy to solve. I understood how important it is to develop human capital, since this is the basis of everything. Now I work at the EdTech company BTS Education. We develop IT solutions for education.

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