When Damian finished high school in Indonesia, he was planning to study in the United Kingdom or Australia. However, he knew he wanted to study computer science and realized that the United States was the best place for that major. After speaking with an educational consultant, Damian learned about the American Collegiate, Los Angeles program at UCLA Extension, which allows students to earn first-year credits that are eligible for transfer to top institutions across the US.
“I did research and saw a lot of students go into their dream schools,” explains Damian. “I knew this was the best program for me.” His decision to attend American Collegiate, LA led to five acceptances of his transfer application, including Boston University, Ohio State University, SUNY at Buffalo, and Indiana University Bloomington. But the fifth, Northeastern University, is where he will continue pursuing his bachelor’s degree. Read on for more about Damian’s American Collegiate, LA experience and why he chose Northeastern.
A Bridge Between High School and an Elite Education
Damian moved to California to start classes at American Collegiate, LA in January 2020 for the winter quarter. “Living in Los Angeles, I went to a lot of great places,” he says, recalling weekends in Malibu and other beach destinations. “Even if I was not doing something with friends, sitting and studying on the beach was the best thing.”
He was only a couple of months into the nine-month program when the coronavirus pandemic forced classes to move online. Damian was living with four students from Brazil, Mexico, and Russia who were also attending the American Collegiate, LA program and planned to transfer in Fall 2020. Since he was not set to transfer until Spring 2021 and he did not want to live alone, Damian decided flying home to Indonesia was the best choice.
Despite having to cut his time in Los Angeles short, he has no regrets. “I still felt American Collegiate, LA provided 100% support,” he says, noting the advising sessions gave him access to all the important information he needed.
Students are very friendly, too, he adds. “There is a group chat for studying. And I am still in contact with friends from the program. Some are taking the same classes as me.”
While Damian says he is not outgoing, remote learning has enabled him to step outside his comfort zone. “Because of the situation, you sometimes need to reach out and ask for information if anything is not clear.”
His hard work has paid off, improving his GPA while giving him the opportunity to experience different classes like psychology and philosophy that are not tied to his major, as well as classes alongside students at UCLA Extension.
These general education classes will all easily transfer to Northeastern University when he moves to Boston for the Spring 2021 semester.
Navigating the Transfer Process
Damian did not always have a clear idea of where he would transfer. “When I got into American Collegiate, Los Angeles, I thought about famous places in movies like UCLA, New York University, Harvard, Cornell,” Damian says. “I had never heard of Northeastern before joining American Collegiate, Los Angeles.”
He first saw Northeastern mentioned in the advising staff’s weekly newsletter covering helpful resources, volunteer opportunities, and university information.
Advisors walked him through the transfer process, he says, including how credits transfer and how the first-year transfer experience differs from the traditional first-year experience.
“Talking to advisors introduced me to a lot of good programs for computer science,” he continues. “It was very personalized.”
You can just reach out to [advisors] and talk about anything,” – Damian, Indonesia, American Collegiate, Los Angeles
Damian applied to nine schools, and knew his application from American Collegiate, LA would stand out, thanks to earning the UCLA Extension General Studies Certificate through the program. The certificate also gives Damian and fellow students ongoing access to other UCLA Extension resources, including the alumni network, job board, recreational facility access, and career resources like coaching and network events.
Deciding to Attend Northeastern University
While Damian notes that Boston University has the highest U.S. News & World Report ranking out of his acceptances, he personally liked the program at Northeastern better. “I like that they offer a co-op, so I get to work during my third year. That felt like a better option for me,” he says.
For his first co-op, he would like to get a position as a software engineer, ideally at a company like Spotify that often hires interns. “I use Spotify every day,” he says, and hopes to work at a company with products and services he loves.
Ultimately, Damian’s goals are to land a job in California and earn a master’s degree in artificial intelligence or data science. “Silicon Valley would be a very great place for my major,” he says.
Overall, he feels American Collegiate, LA helped him transition to living in the US and prepared him for success at Northeastern. “The whole experience was worth it,” he concludes. “It is a great program if you want to go to the US to study and get extra support.”
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