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Matriculation Essay Definition

"Matric" redirects here. For the research organization, see MATRIC.

For the expression "matriculating the ball down the field", see Matriculation (sports activity).

Matriculation is the formal process of entering a university, or of becoming eligible to enter by fulfilling certain academic requirements such as a matriculation examination.


Matriculation, often shortened to "matric", was the successful completion of 6th Form (Year 12), and was only done by students intending to go on to University. Year 11 was known as the 'Leaving' year, which was the end of high school for the majority of students. In the late 60s and early 70s all states replaced matriculation with either a certificate such as the Higher School Certificate, (HSC) in Victoria and NSW, or a University entrance exam such as the Tertiary Entrance Exam in Western Australia. These have all been renamed (except in NSW) as a State-based certificate, such as the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).


Main article: Secondary School Certificate

In Bangladesh, the "Matric" is the Secondary School Examination (SSC) taken at year 10, before Intermediate Exams taken in subsequent two years prior to university entry. Bangladesh like the rest of South Asia continued to use terms such as Matriculation Exams and Intermediate Exams taken from the days of the British Raj although these terms were replaced in England itself with O or Ordinary Level Examinations (now called GCSE) and A or Advanced Level Examinations respectively.


In Brazilian Portuguese, the word "matrícula" refers to the act of enrolling in an educational course, whether it be elementary, high school, college or post-graduate education.


In Canada, the term is used by some older universities to refer to orientation ("frosh") events,[citation needed] however some universities, including University of King's College, still hold formal Matriculation (usually shortened to "matric") ceremonies. Trinity College at the University of Toronto also holds formal matriculation ceremonies, during which time incoming students are required to sign a matriculation register, making the practice the closest in format to that conducted by Oxford and Cambridge colleges of any university in North America. The ceremony at King's is quite similar to the matriculation ceremonies held in universities such as Oxford or Cambridge. In Ontario during the era with grade 13, satisfactory completion of grade 12 was considered junior matriculation. Satisfactory completion of grade 13 was senior matriculation. In Nova Scotia, at the present time, Junior matriculation is grade 11 and senior matriculation is completion of grade 12.

Czech Republic[edit]

At Charles University in Prague, the oldest and most prestigious university in the Czech Republic, matriculation is held at the Great Hall (Magna Aula). The ceremony is attended by students commencing their studies. It is intended as a demonstration of the adoption of student's duties and obtaining of student's rights. The ceremony itself involves students taking the Matriculation Oath of the University and symbolically touching the Faculty mace and shaking the Dean's hand.

Other Czech universities hold ceremonies similar to the one just described.


In Denmark, the University of Copenhagen holds a matriculation ceremony each year. The ceremony is held in the Hall of Ceremony in the main building of the University. The ceremony begins with a procession with the rector and the deans in academic dress and other regalia. The ceremony continues with the rector listing the different faculties, after which the different student, shouts when their respective faculty is mentioned. The rector then delivers a speech, after which the rector and the deans leave the ceremony again in procession, after which a party is held on university grounds, to mark the admission of the new students.


Main article: Matriculation exam (Finland)

In Finland, Matriculation (Finnish: Ylioppilastutkinto, Swedish: Studentexamen) is the examination taken at the end of Secondary education to qualify for entry into University. The test also constitutes the high school's final exam(s), in other words it is a high school graduation exam. Since 1919, the test has been arranged by a national body, the Matriculation Examination Board. Before that, the administration of the test was the responsibility of the University of Helsinki.


The German term Immatrikulation describes the administrative process of enrolling at university as a student. This can happen for winter semester and, depending on the degree program, also for summer semester. It does not involve a ceremony. A prerequisite for matriculation is generally the Abitur, which is the standard matriculation examination in Germany, for regular universities and Fachhochschulreife for Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences). Both Abitur and Fachhochschulreife are school leaving certificates which students receive after passing their final examinations at some types of German secondary schools.

Hong Kong[edit]

See also: Joint University Programmes Admissions System and Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

In Hong Kong, the term is used interchangeably with the completion of sixth-form. After sitting for the Certificate of Education examinations, eligible students receive two years of sixth-form education, upon completion, they sit for the A-level examinations. Most secondary schools offer the sixth-form programme, and there are also a few sixth-form colleges. Students obtaining good grades in the A-level examinations will be admitted to a university. The education reforms of Hong Kong in the 2000s have replaced the fourth- and fifth-form education, which prepared students for the HKCEE, and the sixth-form education with a three-year senior secondary education, which leads to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. The last sixth-form students graduated and took the A-level examinations in 2012; in the same year the first students studying the new senior secondary curriculum graduated and took the first HKDSE examinations.


In India, it is a term commonly used to refer to the final year of 10th class, which ends at tenth Board (UP Board ) standard (tenth grade), and the qualification consequently received by passing the national board exams or the state board exams, commonly called "matriculation exams".

India continued to use terms such as Matriculation Exams and Intermediate Exams taken from the days of the British Raj although these terms were replaced in England itself with O' or Ordinary Level Examinations (now called GCSE) and A' or Advanced Level Examinations.

English is the standard language for matriculation for science subjects, while regional languages are also an option. Most students who pass matriculation, or class 10, are 15–16 years old. Upon successfully passing, a student may continue onto the Higher secondary school. Most students who pass class 12 are 17–18 years old. The CBSE and ICSE boards conduct twelfth standard courses nationally, while state boards operate at the state-level. Although the basic curriculum is prescribed by the CBSE.[citation needed]


In Malaysia, Matriculation programmes are run by public universities and the Ministry of Education (MoE). Matriculation programmes offered by public universities offer fewer options for further study upon completion of the said program as they are limited to that particular university.

The matriculation programme provided by the MoE is a one-year pre-U program sponsored by the Malaysian government. SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or the Malaysian Certificate of Education) holders can apply for MoE Matriculation during their SPM year [Form 5]. Students that are offered the matriculation programme will be posted to several Matriculation Colleges within Malaysia.

After MoE Matriculation, they can further their studies in local universities within Malaysia. Several universities in New Zealand and UK recognize the MoE Matriculation as a pre-U qualification. Matriculation was introduced after the repeal of the racial based quota for public university admission.[citation needed]

Apart from the matriculation programmes, there is the STPM programme ([Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia] or Malaysian Higher School Certificate), the standardised national examinations taken by Form 6 students. STPM is different from the matriculation programme in terms of its duration (2 years vs. 1 year), syllabus (breadth and depth), marking method (standardised assessment nationwide vs. assessment by matriculation college itself) and passing rate.[citation needed]


Main article: School Leaving Certificate (Nepal)

In Nepal, it refers to the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) before now it is known as Secondary education examination (SEE) (As per new education act 2016) taken at year 10, before Intermediate Exams (Higher Secondary or 10+2) taken in subsequent two years prior to university entry. School leaving certificate (SLC) or Secondary education examination (SEE) is the main examination which is also called "Iron gate" in Nepal. Although SLC and 10+2 are widely used, some educational institutions follow the British system with O' or Ordinary Level Examinations (now called GCSE) and A' or Advanced Level Examinations respectively.


Main article: Matriculation in Pakistan

In Pakistan, "matriculation" (usually shortened to “matric”) is the term that refers to the final examinations that take place at the end of 9th and 10th grades. These Examinations are usually taken up by students aged 14 to 16 years.

It results in the issuance of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) or Technical School Certificate (TSC). After the SSC (or TSC) students may proceed for 11th year of education at College. After successful completion of the 11th (HSSC-1) and the 12th (HSSC-2) years in college they get the Intermediate certification (HSSC – Higher Secondary School Certificate), and become eligible to enter universities in Pakistan or in other countries. Pakistan has continued to use terms such as Matriculation Exams and Intermediate Exams taken from the days of the British Raj, although these terms were replaced in [England itself with O' or Ordinary Level Examinations (now called GCSE) and A' or Advanced Level Examination.

South Africa[edit]

Main article: Matriculation (South Africa)

In South Africa, "matriculation" (usually shortened to "matric") is a term commonly used to refer to the final year of high school and the qualification received on graduating from high school (now officially the National Senior Certificate or NSC). Strictly speaking "matriculation" refers to the minimum university entrance requirements (usually called a matric exemption as it provides an exemption from writing entrance exams when applying for University entrance).[citation needed]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the British universities of Oxford, Cambridge,[1]St Andrews, Edinburgh, Durham, and the New College of the Humanities, the term is used for the ceremony at which new students are entered into the register (in Latinmatricula) of the university, at which point they become members of the university. Oxford requires matriculants to wear academic dress with subfusc during the ceremony. At Cambridge and Durham, policy regarding the wearing of academic dress varies amongst the colleges. Separate matriculation ceremonies are held by some of the colleges in Durham. Also at Durham, not all students are entered into the register, but one person from each college is selected to sign their own name for the whole college. At the University of St Andrews as well as the other ancient universities of Scotland, matriculation involves signing the Sponsio Academica, a pledge to abide by university rules and to support the institution. In 2015, Bishop Grosseteste University Lincoln introduced a Matriculation event for all new students.

At British universities where there is no formal ceremony, the terms "matriculation", "enrollment" and "registration" are often used interchangeably by different institutions to describe the administrative process of becoming a member of the university.

At Oxford and Cambridge, matriculation was formerly associated with entrance examinations taken before or shortly after matriculation, known as Responsions at Oxford and the Previous Examination at Cambridge, both abolished in 1960. University-wide entrance examinations were subsequently re-introduced at both universities, but abolished in 1995. More limited subject-based tests have since been introduced.

United States[edit]

In the United States, universities and colleges that have a formal matriculation ceremony include: Adrian College, Albion College, Anna Maria College, Asbury University, Assumption College, Belmont Abbey College, Belmont University, Boston College,[2]Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Culver-Stockton College, Dartmouth College, Duquesne University, Hamline University,[3]Harvard University, Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL, Kalamazoo College, Kenyon College,[4]Lawrence University, http://lawrence.edu, Lyndon State College,[5]Lyon College, Marietta College,[6]McKendree University,[7]Mount Holyoke College, Mount Union College,[8]Muhlenberg College, Occidental College, Randolph-Macon College, Rice University,[9]Saint Leo University, Scripps College, Trinity College, Tufts University, The University of Saint Mary (Kansas), University of Wisconsin–Baraboo/Sauk County, Virginia Military Institute, Wabash College,[10]Walsh University, Washington and Jefferson College, and Willamette University. Some medical schools highlight matriculation with a white coat ceremony. For example, UAB School of Medicine[11] does so.

At most universities and colleges in the United States, "matriculation" refers to mere enrollment or registration as a student at a university or college by a student intending to earn a degree, an event which involves no special ceremony.

Special student[edit]

Universities and colleges in the United States commonly have a category of students known as special students,[12][13][14]non-matriculated students[15][16] or non-matriculating students.[17] Generally these are students who are not merely auditing a class, but receive credit which is potentially transferable, pay full tuition, and often receive benefits that other students receive such as access to facilities and health care. These students typically are enrolled as matriculated students at other institutions and are visiting scholars of some type. However, sometimes students attend classes for the purpose of a standalone non-degree education.


  1. ^"Newton, Sir Isaac (NWTN661I)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.  As an example of the continual use of the term matriculation in the ACAD database for any student entering any of the Colleges at Cambridge
  2. ^"Conversations in the First Year — Boston College". Bc.edu. 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  3. ^"Hamline University | Saint Paul, Minnesota". Hamline.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  4. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  5. ^"Lyndon — A Vermont State College". Lyndonstate.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  6. ^"URL retrieved 2007-August-26". Marietta.edu. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  7. ^Class of 2016 Matriculates at McKendree Retrieved 2012-August-25.
  8. ^"URL retrieved 2008-April-11". muc.edu. 
  9. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  10. ^"Ringing in the new – a special time at Wabash | Dear Old Wabash". blog.wabash.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  11. ^"UAB - The University of Alabama at Birmingham - Home". Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  12. ^"Special Students: Admissions". Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on November 28, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  13. ^"University Special Students". University of Wisconsin – Madison Continuing Education. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  14. ^"Undergraduate Special Student Admissions". MIT Graduate Admissions. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  15. ^"Non-Matriculated Graduate Student Status". Stonybrook University School of Professional Development. Archived from the original on December 31, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  16. ^"Graduate Non-Matriculated Students". University of Washington. Archived from the original on November 15, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  17. ^"Nonmatriculating Students". Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Students arriving for a matriculation ceremony at Oxford

The Four Most Common Types of College Essays and How to Approach Them

Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Want to skip all the research and get to writing? Go straight to our COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY LAB for a step-by-step walkthrough of the writing process, from brainstorming all the way through to revisions.

And now, onto the meat.

Essay is not a four-letter word—though you may feel like using a few of your own when it comes time to write one. Most students would rather swim in a vat full of sharks while singing the national anthem (sharks + singing = Shmoop's worst nightmare) than sit down and write an application essay. And hey, we get it. It's easy to shrug off brainstorming, outlining, and agonizing over essay prompts for a Saturday afternoon snooze or four back-to-back episodes of The Walking Dead. But we also know that, sometimes, all you need to get started is a gentle little Shmoop. (Hint: It means to move things forward a bit.

These essays should be… fun. They're much more like narratives, journal entries, and free form writing than the highly structured, boring 5 paragraph essays you’ve probably been writing in school. In fact, some people say they’re even easier to write because they’re meant to be written in an everyday voice. It should all flow easily once you figure out what you want to write about. That, of course, is the hard part: deciding what stuff to write about.

But the nice thing about applying to colleges is that you’ll be able to recycle some of the essays you write for different schools, so you'll probably only have to write 3-4 essays at most. Sure, there’ll be slight changes here and there and maybe from year to year, but you’ll probably be able to use a couple of your essays multiple times. There are always going to be those schools with that weird prompt that doesn’t fit into any of these (check out UChicago), but even then, odds are you can adapt one of those four into one of the prompts. Most essays can be grouped into four general types:

1. The Personal Statement

The Gist: There are a lot of essay prompts that can be considered personal statements; these will range from “Tell us about yourself” to “Tell us about an experience that defines who you are.” An excellent example is the first essay topic choice from the 2013-2014 Common App:

“Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

The point of college essays in general is to show a side of you that the admissions committee can’t see just by looking at your transcript, letters of rec, resume, and whatnot. The point of personal statement essays in particular is to communicate something you do or did in the past—whatever, really—that defines who you are.

Remember when you rescued those 37 cats from the burning animal hospital? Now’s the time to brag about what a hero you are.


Approach: When choosing a topic for this kind of essay, you should select an experience or activity that played an important—even central—role in your life, but one that isn’t covered by the rest of your application. For instance, if most of the awards you won were from mock trial, you had a letter of rec from your mock trial coach, and mock trial filled up half a page on your resume, it might be better to write an essay about something else, unless you provide a story about an intense mock trial that required you to persist under pressure. Remember, the point of the essays is to show the admissions officers something that they can’t garner from the rest of your application.

In other words, write about anything. You can write about how singing in the shower has fundamentally changed the way you see things (we’re not even kidding, check this out), about how much you love baking cookies, or just about how much you loved this one art class you took (even if the rest of your application is pretty hardcore math/science). Colleges want multi-dimensional students, so show them something unique about yourself.

2. Your Favorite Activity

Gist: The answer to this prompt can range from competitive math to basketball to debate to a collection of vintage Superman comics. It can also be used for your personal statement as well. The point of this essay is to demonstrate your passion, have a deep intellectual understanding of something, and notice the details that 99.9% of others wouldn’t notice—anything that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Superman. Now THERE’S a guy who knows how to stand out from the crowd.


Approach: Think about what your interests are. What do you do in your free time? If you could spend a day doing something, what would you do? Maybe answering watching TV or playing video games isn’t the best idea, unless you happen to run a TV station or have released your own iPhone apps. Think about why it’s your favorite activity and what about it gets you excited and just write. A good way to get material for a first draft is to write like you’re trying to convince someone how great lacrosse or competitive speed-eating or stamp collections really are. Just remember what you’re trying to get across to the people reading your essay: that you truly feel passionate about that activity, and that it brings something out of you that most people can’t match up to.

3. Why [insert school name]?

The Gist: This prompt will ask you why you want to spend the next four years of your life at one particular college. Strategically, this essay accomplishes two things: it shows your interest in the school (which is important, because schools want to maintain high matriculation rates), and it shows that you are a good fit for the school.

Approach: To approach this essay, think about how the admissions officers will see you: a potential math major with an interest in Shakespeare, a politics nerd with a photographic memory, an all-around artist with a knack for biology, whatever. Then, do some research. If you’re applying as a math major, check out the math department’s website. Look up clubs and organizations that you’d like to join at the school. Professors you'd like to work with on their groundbreaking research. In short, you want to communicate to the admissions committee that if you’re admitted, you would attend (regardless of whether it’s on top of your list or on the bottom; the point is to get in first, then decide where you want to go), and that if you were to attend, you’d contribute positively to the school one way or another.

4. Intellectual Curiosity

Gist: College = freedom at last. True, but let's not forget; you're also in school to study. You'll have to choose something to major in, and most schools will want to know what you like to learn in your free time. An example of this kind of question comes from Stanford's Supplemental Essay questions: Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.

Approach: What are some of your favorite subjects in school? Do you feign a stomachache before math class so you can skip class? Similar to the other three previous essays, think about what characteristics are not yet portrayed through other essays or parts of your application. The admissions committee wants to know that you have a mind that's always hungry for more knowledge.

"This guy’s brain, on the other hand, is totally full."


The people reading your essays are regular human beings, which means you should write with that in mind. A good way to check your tone is to read your essays out loud. No, not in your head, out loud. Read them to a friend, parent, sibling, whatever, and if you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable by the style, then you should change it. This doesn’t mean you should add in colloquial filler words like like, um, and uh, but it means that the essay should flow smoothly enough that you feel comfortable reading it out loud in front of someone you don’t know very well (don’t actually do that, but you should feel good enough to).

And… have fun. A lot of people think of college essays as a tedious chore, but actually, they’re a valuable experience to learn more about yourself and at the same time shake off the modesty a bit and brag to someone whose job it is to listen.

For a more extensive walk-through of the College Application Essay, check out our Writing the College Application Essay nano-course!

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