It seems that every time I disappear for a while it’s due to being busy with school. This time the difference is that I’m finally done with studying Swedish, and am finally studying for a future career in Sweden…in Swedish.
After four years of being here I’ve finally reached higher education and while I’m excited to share my experiences and explain how it all works, I want to tell the story (from a year ago, that I never got around to posting) of my pre-application process to help someone from making my mistakes:
Applying to certain college (högskolan) or university (universitet) programs, vocational/trade school (yrkesutbildning), or specific job positions requires verifying your transcripts to make sure you’re qualified. If you have foreign transcripts because you aren’t from Sweden, there’s an extra step that can make this messy: simply sending them in isn’t enough. Your transcripts will need to be translated (if not in English), reviewed, and converted to their equivalents acceptable in Sweden schools.
The problem is that this process can take anywhere from 6 – 10 months (to compare with my own personal experiences of getting things sorted in Sweden: marriage paperwork= 1 month, Permission to move to Sweden= 2 months, Swedish citizenship approval= 2 weeks, Swedish passport= 4 days Read about it here)
This means that it’s really important to do this as early as possible because this wait time can really delay your plans if you miss an application deadline while waiting for your transcripts to be evaluated.
Thankfully, I knew about the wait time so I got the process started almost 2 years before I needed to – which was good because everything that could go wrong, did.
Lesson one: You always need paperwork
The first thing I did was go to the “guidance center” that assists with adult education: vägledningscentrum (works together with the unemployment services arbetsförmedlingen in certain towns)
They were very helpful in answering all of my questions, told me that UHR (Universitets- och högskolerådet or “Swedish Council for Higher Education”) is where my transcripts need to be sent to get verified and gave me the address. Most importantly they made official copies (vidimerade kopior) of my transcripts; each page stamped, signed, and dated.
Knowing it could take up to 10 months, and not yet being in a rush because I was still studying Swedish, it wasn’t until almost a year later I decided to call for an update. UHR had no record of ever receiving my transcripts. At this point, I knew I would be applying to an education within the year so the pressure was on.
I went back to the guidance center to resend my transcripts and explain what happened. It wasn’t until I was handed a form I had never seen before that I understood why my transcripts were never processed: I sent them with no paperwork. This form was not only something to fill out, but a checklist of everything you need to send ASIDE from your transcripts, like an official print out of Swedish grades and a personbevis (“civic registration certificate” – ordered online from skatteverket “tax agency”). This time I did it properly. Or so I thought.
Lesson Two: Read the fine print
A few days later I got a mail confirming that they received and are processing my transcripts. My deadline was in 8 months, so I was relieved and worried at the same time. It should make it in time.
About a month later I get another mail: my transcripts are incomplete.
How!? It turns out that certain countries (USA included) require all transcripts to be sent officially aka directly from old school to new (UHR in this case). This means that the transcripts that I sent were invalid. I should have learned my lesson from the first mistake. I should have read the fine print – myself.
The good news was that my application is on file, so I didn’t have to do anymore paperwork. The bad news is that it is no easy task to get transcripts quickly sent to another country, from another country. While UHR was willing to receive everything electronically, my old schools were not so hip to the times. This involved needing to snail-mail an addressed envelope with American stamps, a form filled out with my signature, and a money order from an American bank. Getting all of this sorted could take weeks, thankfully my brother helped as a middle man to speed up the process. The high school didn’t charge extra for sending internationally, but the college insisted on using Fed-Ex which costs an extra 60 bucks.
A few weeks later I received another letter confirming that everything was complete and ready to be processed. About 6 months later – the same week of the application deadline – it was finally done. I had proof of attending high school and having all the English and math prerequisites I needed to apply to the Certified Dental Assisting Program (Tandsköterskeutbildning). Phew.
- The application itself available online – this saves a lot of time (and is an option I was unaware of at the time): https://utbildningsbedomning.uhr.se/
- If you have the ability to scan your files (that don’t need to be mailed directly)and save them as PDFs they can also be sent in online.
- For additional information: https://www.uhr.se/bedomning-av-utlandska-utbildningar/
- Make sure that you actually need to have your transcripts/diplomas evaluated. This depends on the education you are applying to or if you are applying to a job that has specific requirements.
- For certain educations, this step is unnecessary or done by a different agency, such as: https://www.antagning.se/se/start