Opportunity knocks for students in Shanghai
It has been an incredibly successful year of university admissions for Shanghai international schools. A large number of students received offers from universities ranked inside the world’s top 10. Some of the students were eager to reflect on their university applications experiences and share some advice.
Sometimes the numbers don’t add up
In the process of college admissions, people resort to statistics far too often — whether it is college rankings, average SAT, ACT and IB scores, or the number of extracurriculars that someone “must have” to get in. But in reality, this collection of numbers is far too simplistic and superficial. To me, Stanford is more than a bag of data points — it is a living, breathing place, one with its own unique culture, traditions and personality.
I discovered Stanford when I attended Stanford Summer Session in 2018. I was exposed to the intellectual rigor of university-level courses, as well as its unique culture of innovation. It was this vibrancy that drew me in — a sense of idealism combined with can-do pragmatism that transcended the confines of admission statistics.
Throughout my time at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong, the school has prepared me not only for such a spirit of disruptive innovation, to have the audacity to see, but also the ability to plan. I feel incredibly privileged to have fantastic teachers guide me as mentors, both inside the classroom and out. In two years studying the IB curriculum, I have learnt academic content and the skills necessary to turn ideas into action. Whether it is organizing Model United Nations’ conferences or hosting Hackathons, IB’s emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking in its subjects and its CAS extracurricular program has allowed me to put abstract ideas into reality and attain valuable managerial skills.
Often, the IBDP has a reputation of being stressful, pressuring and seemingly draconian in its demands. True, the daunting amount of work in an IB Diploma is not for everyone. But I think if you view the requirements of the IB as opportunities to explore topics you’re genuinely interested in, you can really enjoy these tasks. For example, for my Extended Essay, I analyzed the rhetoric and political satire in standup comedy, something that is a great personal interest to me.
Ultimately, the IBDP is a great opportunity to explore your passions, a chance for you to learn, grow and thrive in unexpected ways. After all, you’re more than just a number.
(This article is contributed by Jay, Year 13 student at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.)
Big-name university not a ticket to success
I want to take this opportunity to share my experience from the university selection process. I hope my message will benefit prospective art school students in particular.
Surrounded by a high-achieving educational environment, the pressure to get into a prestigious art university such as Rhode Island School of Design, CalArts and Parsons, is pretty big. Many students believe getting into a big-name university equates with career success.
Attending a summer residency course at a less well-known art school, Maryland Institute College of Art, brought about a change in my perception and university research process. During that course, classes were taught by accomplished alumni from a range of different art schools, lesser-known schools were not on my radar until then. But I discovered they offered the same, if not better, education and even more work-related opportunities than “big-name” schools. Furthermore, many of them had their finger on the pulse of the latest industry developments, trends and technology.
College names are not a ticket to career success. A highly competitive and constantly evolving industry in any field looks for people who demonstrate they can be a master of advanced technical abilities, display good communication and collaboration skills, the ability to think, experiment and create independently.
Otis caught my attention after I reached out to several of their students, checked out their faculty, student artwork and graduates’ career paths.
Their student environment struck me as highly supportive, encouraging strong collaboration among students of different majors to replicate the work process of industry-level products and output.
Students curate their own curriculum to manage classes and compulsory internships. I found this to be the school most capable of preparing me for the career that I aspire to. I am very excited to begin my dual-degree program in digital media and entrepreneurship at Otis College of Art and Design.
(This article is contributed by Elizabeth, Year 13 student at Dulwich Pudong.)
Manage your uni application time well
The guidance department of Wellington College International Shanghai has given me so much support during this application process.
Whether I needed the latest information from the admission officers, or had questions about my applications, I was always able to pop into their office and find the answers.
My biggest piece of advice is to manage your time wisely, especially if you are applying to US universities. The pressure from both the US-standardised university tests and IB can be really stressful, so always talk to your teachers if you think you cannot handle the workload.
Reflecting on Wellington’s pupils and their offers, Steve Tippen, director of Higher Education and Careers for Wellington, said:
“The university offers that our Year 13 pupils have received represent an outstanding achievement. Gaining a range of offers as impressive as these is not easy. They are the product of years of preparation, forensic research and input from a wide variety of people on a range of topics related to university admissions.
“The fact that our pupils have been recognized by the most selective of global universities, from Oxbridge to the Ivy League, is a real testament to the hard work and ambition of our pupils, as well as the dedication of all those people involved in supporting their applications.”
(This article is contributed by Daniel, Year 13 student at WCIS.)
Put trust in yourselves
The essay writing part of the application process was particularly rewarding.
While the UK one is more academically leaning and the US one is much more personal, I have benefited from both, as they have been a process of self-exploration.
Throughout the whole process, our university counselors, teachers and others have given invaluable advice regarding every aspect of our preparations.
For future Year 13s: Trust the process and listen to your university counsellors. They know what they are talking about!
(This article is contributed by Seann, Year 13 student at WCIS.)
Have faith, believe in your ability
I’ve had my sights set on studying in the US from the beginning, so for me this process started over four years ago. To be honest, I was very shocked by the offers I received. I never expected to get one from either Brown or Cambridge, never mind both.
Sometimes it is very hard to gauge your chances of being accepted, especially when it comes to US colleges. Throughout the process, Wellington’s higher education team was extremely helpful. Their contagious enthusiasm really made me have faith in myself and their help with my UCAS essay significantly improved my UK application. I am also very grateful for the recommendation letters that supported my applications.
My advice to those starting their university applications is to believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to try even when the percentages are daunting.
Also, start planning early and remember that SATs and other statistics are never deal-breakers.
Finally, applying through both UK and US systems is a large time-consuming commitment. There is no need to apply to a ton of colleges, “just to be safe.”
(This article is contributed by Katia, Year 13 student at WCIS.)
Research helps you make the right choice
My university application process was not quick, but it was thorough and I am glad that I spent the time putting a lot of thought into it. I am very pleased with the offers because it has given me lots of confidence knowing that universities think I deserve a place.
Throughout the entire process, support has been available no matter which path, country or application process we were focusing on. We were given lots of guidance with writing our personal statements, which was invaluable for me in understanding the correct tone and what information I should include to really sell myself.
I found it useful that we were also given advice and a timeline to follow so we could manage our application process along with our everyday studies.
My advice for pupils starting the process would be to make sure you research universities. There’s so much information available and it can really help you narrow down the options and find the ones that are right for you.
It is also helpful to try and engage with your course of choice outside your formal studies so you can show your interest or experience in a certain field. For everyone, doing your best and keeping up with your academics is important because it gives you more options and choices.
(This article is contributed by Emmie, Year 13 student at WCIS.)