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Need advice with admission to the University of Warsaw!! Please help!!

slavicradio1992 2 | 13
1 Mar 2017 #1
So I am a young polish-american student ready to go off to college. I have chosen Poland for my studies in order to save money for law school in the USA later down the road. The plan was to stay with my Babcia in Warszawa and go to school as usual. It's always been my dream!! However, I'm very scared I won't get accepted into the International Relations program (English studies) at the University of Warsaw. I have very average grades (2.8-3.1 gpa). 23 on ACT. How difficult is it to get in? Is it easier for foreigners, especially those of polish descent, given that not many decide to study in Poland? The admission process is confusing as it is, but the anxiety of not getting accepted is even more agonizing since I'm risking it all!! Worst case scenario, any other reputable polish schools I can try if this doesn't work out?
DominicB - | 2,707
1 Mar 2017 #2

I have bad news for you. Courses taught in English at Polish universities are of very low quality, and a degree from such a program is not going to be very appealing to a serious school of law in the US. Your chances are higher with a degree from an inexpensive state school in the US.

Also, your chances are higher if you study a serious and demanding technical or scientific field than with humanities and social science fields. International relations is a poor choice unless you are a top student at a top university. While the University of Warsaw does have a serious International Relations major, that pertains only to the program taught in Polish, and not the one taught in English. Getting into the serious Polish course is difficult even for native Poles. And keeping up with the abundant reading assignments is difficult if your Polish is not at the advanced native-speaker level.

You should also consider the wisdom of getting a law degree. Unless you have extensive family connections or are a top student from a top US university who is pathologically obsessed with networking, it is a very difficult field to break into. There is a glut of law school graduates, and most never find work in the legal field or end up being underemployed on the fringes of the field.

In terms of lifetime earnings and savings potential, the best fields to go into are those that require lots and lots of advanced applied mathematics, like petroleum engineering, geological engineering, biomedical engineering, financial mathematics, financial engineering, econometrics or actuarial sciences. We live in a technocracy where math rules, and non-math degrees are decreasing in value year after year. This applies to law, as well, as the demand for legal services is plummeting due to digitalization. Here is a good article:
terri 1 | 1,663
1 Mar 2017 #3
Another thing to consider is that the Law degree course will teach you about Polish Law and not the Law applicable in any other country. You need to check up on that however.

The other thing is that unless you have extremely good connections in the field of Law in Poland (Ziobro is your personal friend)the chances of getting work after that are less than zero. Chances of finding work in the US in the field of law after completing your degree in Poland are minimal to say the least.
Atch 22 | 4,128
1 Mar 2017 #4
advanced applied mathematics, like petroleum engineering, geological engineering, biomedical engineering, financial mathematics, financial engineering, econometrics or actuarial sciences.

That may be so but the OP says he has only average grades and thus he's clearly not suited to any of those options. Without wishing to be derogatory, that's average grades USA standard which is considerably lower in real terms than European standards. Somebody who can only score average grades in the American high school system is clearly not academic at all.

the Law degree course will teach you about Polish Law

Terri, pay attention dear! He said he wants to do a basic humanties degree in Poland in order to gain admission to a law degree in America later on.

Slavi, rather than focusing on the ease or otherwise of getting into a Polish college, maybe you should completely rethink your career plans. Dominic is right in what he says about studies in Poland. And to be honest, cheap options are always cheap for a reason. The money you save by studying in Poland will not pay off in the long term. Bear in mind that if you later change your mind about law, a degree in International Relations is absolutely useless. It qualifies for you nothing. It's the kind of degree that in Europe gets you a job as a trainee Manager with a supermarket chain, or a basic administrative role in an office.

Why do you want to become a lawyer? The truth is that if you're not academic and you certainly don't appear to be, you will struggle terribly with the work load of a law degree. Is there anything else that appeals to you? I would say, look more closely at your options at home first. I don't know much about the American higher education system but aren't there ways of taking courses gradually/part time and building up your points towards a degree? That might be more manageable for you and is a more flexible route. You could possibly combine it with a job.
1 Mar 2017 #5
Is it easier for foreigners, especially those of polish descent, given that not many decide to study in Poland?

The only thing you really need to get onto an English-medium course at a Polish university is the money to pay the fees.
terri 1 | 1,663
1 Mar 2017 #6
Sorry for the confusion, I must have read the post too quickly. That will teach me....
DominicB - | 2,707
1 Mar 2017 #7
That may be so but the OP says he has only average grades and thus he's clearly not suited to any of those options.

I have three personal success stories that prove that's untrue.

The first is a Polish boy I met on the day that Poland joined the EU. We met at a party, and he impressed me with his unusually developed cultural literacy. He had dropped out of school for one year because of emotional problems after his mother had died, and was struggling in his next to last year at a special school for adults who go back for their GEDs. I decided that he was university material, and prepped him for his matura, in which he got all 5's (straight A's). He got accepted to Toruń to study Russian and English, but lasted only one semester. He showed up at my apartment totally defeated, but I told him that he was going to give it another try, and that he would move in with me so I could prep him better. He got accepted at Wrocław to study Bohemystyka (Czech), and I moved there with him. At the end of the first semester, he called me to tell me that he had gotten a 5 on his final exam, and all the other kids in the program had done substantially worse. AND the professors had given him the exam for second-year students, while the other students had gotten the exam for first-year students. He went on to finish his masters. At the end of his defense, the professors tallied up the points and saw that he had technically scored only a 4.5, but they petitioned the rector to give him a 5.

The second was a last-year less-than-average gymnasium student whose parents sent him to me because, even though they thought he was a bit slow, they hoped that he would get into the English IB program. Within fifteen minutes of meeting him, I realized that he was not only not slow at all, but one of the rare true geniuses that I have met in my life, and that's saying a lot. It soon became apparent that he was mathematically gifted, soon surpassing my ability to tutor him, and then the ability of a PhD mathematician from the university. He went on to complete a masters in financial mathematics at the London School of Economics. He was also gifted in philosophy, and his knowledge of English literature is formidable. His English is also formidable, and he speaks with a perfect American accent, courtesy of yours truly.

The third was a second-year high school student who had basically failed his first year of Liceum and was sent to a private high school, where he was not faring well until I got my hands on him. His third year was spent at a GED school. I basically brainwashed him into loving math and science, which was a challenge because I had to start at ground zero. He was a pretty good tennis player, and I got him, and his twin sister, full-ride scholarships to study at good universities in the US. Both are in their third year, now, she in psychology at Duquesne, and he in civil and environmental engineering at Detroit mercy, where he is a voracious networker.

My other students were doing well in school when I first met them, but these three show that practically every student has the capability to perform far above their level if they are properly mentored. It takes a lot of time, and love. And even personal sacrifice (I supported and even lived with the student studying Czech throughout his studies, and currently half of my earnings here in the States go toward supporting another one of my Polish students who is studying international relations in London).

And, if you are thinking why I support his choice of international relations, it's because he has abundant natural talent and drive for that field. He just got accepted into a very prestigious masters program at Kings, and I can easily envision him becoming a high-ranking diplomat one day. He also has the right family connections to do so, both in Poland and the US. (Actually, I still pester him to beef up his math and science). He's become interested in psychedelic drugs and drug policy, and has become a well-established junior member of the pertinent academic societies, in the UK and the EU. He is, of course, a super networker, as well. He'll walk into any job that strikes his fancy when he finishes.

I believe that all young people have incredible potential that just needs to be cultivated and developed. Potential that even they and their parents are not aware of. And that there is a great, untapped supply of academics like me who can mentor them. With the right mentor, I believe the OP can indeed finish a math-intensive major like my engineering student is doing. I don't believe that there are people of normal intelligence that do not have the ability to study math, science or languages. And also that most geniuses remain undetected because the school system is geared toward average students, and anything not fitting the average gets classified as below average.
Atch 22 | 4,128
1 Mar 2017 #8
Dominic I absolutely get what you're saying. Bear in mind that I am not only a teacher but a Montessori trained teacher and the cornerstone of Montessori philosophy is 'to educate the human potential'.

I don't believe that there are people of normal intelligence that do not have the ability to study math, science or languages.

And that would be the Montessori belief too. It was through her work with educationally sub-normal and seeing how much they managed to learn using her methods, that she concluded how much more the 'normal' child was actually capable of.

I am very much aware of the fact that an intelligent student can fail for a whole range of reasons. The success stories you relate are very heartening BUT they all had one thing in common - you. The OP won't have that and would be very lucky to find such a mentor. In any case there are also many people who despite every effort and input will remain no more than average and that there are many who are not inherently academic and whose untapped skills and talents lie in other areas.
Atch 22 | 4,128
1 Mar 2017 #9
Something I overlooked in your examples Dom, but which I consider significant is that all three had been through the Polish education system which, whatever its flaws, is more demanding than the American one. America doesn't even have a National Curriculum so there is considerable variation in the methodologies, learning content and objectives from state to state.
DominicB - | 2,707
1 Mar 2017 #10
which I consider significant is that all three had been through the Polish education system which, whatever its flaws, is more demanding than the American one.

It's not significant in these cases, because, as I said, two were attending vastly inferior schools than normal Licea, or American high schools, for that matter. The third, while he did go to a good Polish school, was not in the regular Polish curriculum but in an IB program. In his case, the quality of the high school did not matter anyway because he was on a completely different plane than the other students once his potential had been released. He was basically educating himself, with my help.

And also, there is enormous variability in American public high schools, with the best better than their Polish counterparts. This has to do with how schools are funded in the US, by local school districts as opposed to a central authority. The richest districts spend more than five times as much per student than the poorest districts, and attract the best and brightest teachers and students who are from well-to-do families that are invested in their children's education, which is why variability is so high. That's without mentioning the private prep schools that far exceed anything you will encounter in Poland. I graduated from one myself, and never saw anything in Poland that could compare.
Atch 22 | 4,128
1 Mar 2017 #11
Obviously the best American schools are of high quality (and of course the best of your universities are of the highest quality or rather certain programmes within those universities are world leaders). However a child from a working class inner city family in Poland will get at least the same curriculum as a rich child, which isn't the case in America. If we take the extremes out of it though, general standards of high school education in America fall below that of Europe and there are many countries in Europe where the advanced maths curriculum for example is equivalent to undergraduate level maths in the States.
DominicB - | 2,707
1 Mar 2017 #12

A good mentor is going to be having his students operating at a higher than curriculum level, regardless of the school, whether in Poland or the US. And, as I said, there is an vast untapped pool of potential mentors out there just waiting to be asked to help. I don't think I am all that unique. The OP should find one to work with, even if it means taking a gap year to improve her standing. I did this with my student that is studying international relations, even though he was a very good student in Liceum, because I felt he wasn't quite ready to take advantage of all that a good university has to offer. So he had a year of "University of Dominic", which he still says was the hardest year he ever had.

Also, I know you are a Montessori teacher. I'm from the opposite end of the spectrum, as I attended a classical Jesuit Latin school, which is highly structured and disciplined, and a Jesuit university as well. So my teaching methods are rather different from Montessori methods. There is also a lot of Mr. Miyagi in my approach: paint fence, wax car and so on. This allows the students to concentrate on the task at hand without having to think about how it fits into the big picture, which is above their pay grade. That's for me to worry about.

Fortunately, I have a natural knack for establishing trusting relationships with young males, being the oldest of seven boys. The amount of trust they put in me is astounding. I'm worthless with girls, though (no sisters). The psychology girl I mentioned is the only one I ever had any success with, and that only because she saw what I was doing to her twin brother. Oh, and there was one girl who was studying architecture that I mentored and was successful with, too. She went from a shy and reserved mousy girl who sat out group discussions to an assertive and confident woman who eagerly lead them. I got her into a good masters program in the Netherlands, and then she married another one of my students, an engineer. They are now both living and working in Norway. Wish I could figure out why I was successful with her.

Like I said, the OP should find a capable and willing mentor and work on getting into as good a program in as good a school as she can afford in the States with as much financial aid as she can get. It might take a preparatory gap year, but it would be better in the long term than studying international relations in Poland as she currently plans. And I really do think that, with the help of a capable mentor, she can indeed study a math-intensive field.
Atch 22 | 4,128
2 Mar 2017 #13
highly structured and disciplined

my teaching methods are rather different from Montessori methods.

I'm not sure you fully understand the Montessori approach Dominic. Don't mistake freedom of choice for lack of discipline,order and structure. The Montessori curriculum itself is highly structured and the emphasis on order is such that many parents worry that the kids will become obsessive compulsive! Madame Montessori was of course not only a medical doctor like your good self but also a brilliant mathematician and the maths materials she designed have never been surpassed let alone equalled. I challenge you to find a more successful concrete representation of the Theorem of Pythagoras or the conversion of vulgar fractions to decimal fractions. The students you mentored wouldn't have needed that mentoring if they'd been lucky enough to attend a proper Montessori school from the ages of three to twelve.

I don't know if you're aware of the Montessori Magnet schools within the American public school system. Here's one such example from East Dallas where the children are mainly from low income families, many without English as a first language. The local high school graduation rate is less than 50% but for those children who attended the Montessori school up to the age of nine, the rate is 94% with 88% going on to attend college.

One of the most interesting features of Montessori is that even just three years spent in the pre-school seems to have a permanent impact on a child's learning. Just one example is children who began their Maths education Montessori pre-school faring better at Maths throughout their school career than children from conventional pre-schools. I think overall what it gives them though is the ability to focus on a task, be self-aware and self-disciplined. Well those are our goals, to give the child a sense of order and concentration, independence, self-discipline, self-awareness and to foster the natural inherent disposition towards learning which unfortunately mainstream education so often seems to destroy.

I don't think I am all that unique.

I'm not sure about that Dominic. I don't think you'd find too many mentors willing to have their 'mentee' move in with them!

It's a pity the OP didn't get back to us with any futher information about herself. I'm presuming that's because she hasn't been back to check here for any responses to her post. Otherwise I would expect to see at least a brief thank you from her to the people who have taken time to consider her situation and advise her. It's amazing how far basic manners will take you in life. One of my favourite pieces of advice to the young and annoying :))
OP slavicradio1992 2 | 13
2 Mar 2017 #14
Well, I've been missing this debate due to school, funny enough. I read the first few bits yesterday morning and found myself so depressed/hopeless , that I didn't talk to anyone all day or glance at my computer. Thank you to all who defended my intelligence, and I send much love to all you who made me feel like complete trash! No one really answered my questions, except Harry, who told me that "the only thing you really need to get into an English-medium course at a Polish university is the money to pay the fees". This thread went into a fight about the education system as a whole and or mentoring for me. I'm thankful you took so much time to discuss this, but now I'm certainly going to an american university.
Atch 22 | 4,128
2 Mar 2017 #15
Dominic offered you very sound advice. Nothing to get depressed about.

I questioned whether you were academic enough to be considering law. I did so because of your average grades which, having some idea of the standard of the content in ACT tests, is not really university material by European standards. Now those grades may well be less than you're capable of. Perhaps you were bored in school and didn't bother to study. Nobody, no matter how bright will pass exams if they don't know the syllabus. But if that's the case, then you would need to get your act together before embarking on third level studies as a law degree requires enormous amounts of very dull, very dry reading and memorising.

Anyway, best of luck and remember to use a capital letter for American :))
OP slavicradio1992 2 | 13
3 Mar 2017 #16
My dear, I also have some advice for you as well. Ever wonder why you aren't invited to parties? The culprit is your nasty habit of self-righteousness. We are no better than one another. Don't forget to ring when you're in need of a lawyer ! Much love.
Atch 22 | 4,128
3 Mar 2017 #17
As a matter of fact Slavic we are - some people are significantly better in a whole variety of ways, be it intellectually, morally, socially. Now that's not to say that I am necessarily better than you but I pay attention to detail (in this case capitalisation) which is something you would do well to emulate if you intend to pursue a legal career. Also it will improve your chances of success in life if you learn to listen and reflect on what people tell you. Nobody here was trying to humiliate or hurt you with their advice, two intelligent, mature people who have experience of teaching and tutoring speculated on your options. The greatest benefit you could have derived from that was to join the discussion like a mature adult rather than pouting and flouncing and head tossing.
OP slavicradio1992 2 | 13
3 Mar 2017 #18
I'll reiterate, I am thankful for the advice. However, I didn't pout. Don't be dramatic. I was genuinely just bummed that my dream crumpled down before me. Wouldn't you be ? I'm not telling you that your thoughts were invalid, as its always good to hear a different perspective. Just they way you worded it oozed degradation. Don't be so snide, you have better things to do than to be dismissive to kids online, right?
Atch 22 | 4,128
3 Mar 2017 #19
I'm genuinely sorry that you feel your dream crumpled. That's very hard to deal with alright. Look, you could still go ahead with your plans to study in Poland but it depends on what your objectives are. If you just want to a) get a basic undergraduate degree to pave the way to law school and b) save momey, then you can meet those objectives. But against that you have to weigh up the quality of the degree you get, whether it will help you to acquire good study skills and truly further your broader education and what employment/further education prospects it gives you, should you decide not to pursue law as a career.
3 Mar 2017 #20
your average grades which, having some idea of the standard of the content in ACT tests, is not really university material by European standards.

To be perfectly honest those grade will fit right in on most English-medium courses at Polish universities (and last I checked Poland was in Europe): a lot of the people on them are only at a Polish university because they couldn't get in anywhere in their own country, and of course their parents' money goes a lot further here too.
DominicB - | 2,707
3 Mar 2017 #21
I was genuinely just bummed that my dream crumpled down before me.

That's an essential part of becoming an adult. "Dreams" are for little children. Responsible adults make realistic plans. And responsibility means taking care of yourself and your future family, as well as being a productive citizen.

Studying is an investment that requires abundant amounts of your parents' hard-earned money and your own very precious time. You need to sit down with responsible and experienced adults and formulate a plan that maximizes the return on that investment, and make sure that it is not wasted. While she put it somewhat inelegantly, Atch does have a point about your grades. You need to analyze the reasons for your less-than-stellar performance and figure out a way to correct any deficiencies you may have, because it surely will have an impact on your future academic career. With the right guidance and advice, I am confident that you will be able to perform at a much level higher than your current level.

My brother is a lawyer. An intellectual property lawyer and patent attorney. Before he became a lawyer, he had earned his doctorate in pharmacy. The combination of a science degree with a law degree is particular in demand, and professional schools highly favor STEM majors over humanities and soft science majors when it comes to admissions. If you want to get into a good law school, then you will have to work your butox off in college by taking a serious, demanding major and earning grades that indicate you are up to the task of slogging it though law school. You're going to have to become a master at networking to break into an exclusive field like law. And you are going to have to sacrifice till it hurts.

Find some responsible and experienced adults to talk this over with, especially those who have abundant experience in the field you wish to enter. They will help you form realistic plans that build upon your talents and will save you a lot of grief and waste in the future. And be prepared to hear, and accept, a lot of things about the real world that clash with your current perceptions and dreams. It's tough, I know, but the grief you are experiencing now will save you many times more that in the future.
OP slavicradio1992 2 | 13
3 Mar 2017 #22
Dominic, your excellently worded advice is very fair. I thank you sincerely for your well thought out message. It means a lot to me to have a sense of proper guidance. I agree with everything you said, minus the watering down of dreams. A dream is a passion, and that very fire is what keeps us alive. I will forever treasure my aspirations. I'll certainly take all of this into account. I'm off to NYC to major in political science, minor in economics. I am prepared, hell, even excited to work my ass off for that precious law degree. Much love to you all, really.
OP slavicradio1992 2 | 13
15 Aug 2017 #23
Hello everybody it is I, the girl at the center of this discussion again. I am on track to study at a university in Chicago. I recently completed orientation at my school and I noticed that most of the classes I signed up to take were without sense ... classic general education, or better known as "gen eds". It was then that I got hit with a massive revelation. Was I really going to pay a good $20,000 to do basic courses when I could do them in Poland and simply transfer over my junior to take classes relevant to my major, thus eventually graduating with an American degree? Would it be a smart decision to transfer the second semester of my freshman year, and stay for my sophomore year to a polish university just to save money/take gen eds?
DominicB - | 2,707
16 Aug 2017 #24

First of all,congratulations are in order to getting accepted at the University of Chicago! It's a fine school, and a great city. You will have a good time there and learn a lot!

Now about your transferring plan. There are a couple of problems with that. First of all, it is very difficult to get foreign courses recognized by American universities. Unless you discuss this in detail with your dean ahead of time and come up with a plan they will accept, it is unlikely to save you any time or money. Some deans will allow a well-planned "junior year abroad" for selected students.

Second of all is the big difference between American and Polish universities in terms of curriculum. American universities require a lot of study outside of your major, in terms of both general education and elective courses. They also emphasize extracurricular activities of all sorts. You won't find much of that at a Polish university. Students specialize from the very beginning, and learning is very compartmentalized by department. In Poland, you are a student of a particular department, and you take courses almost entirely in that department. In the States, you are a student of the university at large, and will take courses in many different departments. So Polish universities don't have the equivalent of American general education courses, and even taking electives outside of your department is a major hassle.

As for saving money on general education courses, the most practical strategy is to take those courses at a "feeder school" or junior college that has a specific agreement with the University of Chicago. There are many such schools in Chicago itself. For example, if your program requires a course in history, you could take that course at another college in Chicago at a much cheaper price. As long as this is discussed ahead of time with your academic advisor and approved by your dean, the university will accept those credits toward your degree. Same with other general education and elective courses.

The key is to discuss everything ahead of time with your academic advisor. They will gladly tell you what will be accepted, and what will not. You can also ask about the possibility of a junior year abroad.

Good luck with your studies! Like I said, Chicago is a fantastic city. I used to live there myself, and just took two of my Polish students on a two-week vacation there in June. I hope you are a foodie, because Chicago is foodie heaven!
delphiandomine 88 | 18,131
16 Aug 2017 #25
As long as this is discussed ahead of time with your academic advisor and approved by your dean, the university will accept those credits toward your degree.

Dominic, do US universities not have centralised offices that make these decisions?

In my university in the UK, there was a specific department that dealt with such requests, and it was your duty to provide as much documentary evidence as possible to prove that the credits were transferable. You could never meet the people in that department, so decisions were made based on the evidence and nothing else.

In practice, you could add up to 180 credits out of 360 as long as the courses could be applicable to what you were studying. For instance, my friend had a biology degree, so he was able to transfer the full 180 credits to be applied against his second degree in horticulture.
DominicB - | 2,707
17 Aug 2017 #26
Dominic, do US universities not have centralised offices that make these decisions?

Yes. But the process starts with the academic advisor, who will refer the applicant to the proper office.

Home / Study / Need advice with admission to the University of Warsaw!! Please help!!