Both excitement and challenges lying ahead

It is graduation season again. It is a time to look forward with excitement – and a few nerves – to the next step in life.

It is graduation season again. It is a time to look forward with excitement – and a few nerves – to the next step in life, as well as the time to say farewell to cherished friends and teachers. Many will be leaving their families for new countries and new challenges. And all this has been made less stable and certain by the dark impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both excitement and challenges lying ahead

Tips for drawing up the best strategy for junior year

The significance of the junior year in high school is often underestimated. In fact, it is the busiest and toughest time of high school life, as well as the most important time to make plans for university and future careers.

Here are some tips on how to spend a successful junior year:

• Start researching universities and colleges you would like to apply to early! University application processes are not only long and complicated, but they also vary by country and region. Visit university websites and find out what the application period is, what documents are needed, and any additional qualifications they require, such as English proficiency tests. Moreover, you should collect information about the size and location of the university, the university culture, and whether they offer a major of your interest. Organizing this information in a table helps make comparisons easier.

The earlier you start your research, the greater motivation you can get from goals, and the more time you have to focus on academics in senior school.

Both excitement and challenges lying ahead

Lee Hyo Jeong is a Grade 12 student at SSIS.

• Find an internship in the field of your interest during the summer holidays. This provides you with an opportunity to develop new skills and acquire knowledge beyond the classroom. By observing and experiencing the workplace directly, you can develop your interests further in that particular career. What's more, it makes your university application more attractive! For example, I did an internship at a hospital during my summer vacation after Grade 11, through which I not only deepened my interests in the medical field, but also learned and felt how doctors and nurses connect with patients.

• Be actively involved in the school community! Do not hesitate to get involved in new activities or step up to take any leadership role. It may well be the last opportunity to make unforgettable memories in high school, before transitioning into the real world.

• Most importantly, find your own ways to relieve stress. Junior year is one of the most stressful years of high school. A continuous array of long reports and the pressure of exams may make you anxious and insecure. Seek emotional support from your friends, parents and teachers, and have someone who you can confide in. Also, spare some time to play sports or enjoy your hobbies.

Think of your high school journey like a marathon: although you may be slow, as long as you stay resilient, you will be able to finish the race.

(The article is contributed by Lee Hyo Jeong, a Grade 12 student at SSIS.)

An outstanding year amid uncertain times

It was another outstanding year for our 2021 university acceptances with our graduates here at Dulwich Pudong receiving high quality offers and many of them being admitted to their top choice school.

While we saw decreased interest in US universities owing to COVID-19 uncertainties, 80 percent of our US applicants were admitted to one of their preferred choices, receiving offers from top 20 institutions such as MIT, Northwestern, University of California, Berkeley and Swarthmore. Our MIT-bound graduate was admitted to the undergraduate and the PhD programs – truly outstanding!

These results were especially encouraging as this year saw unprecedented competition for places among the very top universities as removal of standardized testing requirements due to COVID-19 led to a surge in applications.

Our graduates continued to perform very strongly in the UK where offers were received from top institutions such as Cambridge University, Imperial College London, University College London, St Andrew's and King's College. This was very impressive given that competition for spaces was much more acute this year as COVID-19 deferrals from last year greatly reduced the number of available spots.

We also saw continuation of a trend toward interest in universities around the globe including our first university acceptances from Sweden. Canada and the Netherlands drew increased attention with offers received from the University of Toronto, McGill, and the University of Amsterdam.

Both excitement and challenges lying ahead

Our graduates continued to perform strongly in specialist programs with successful applications to Sports Science (McGill), Film (London Film Academy), Fashion (University of the Arts London) and Medicine (Cardiff Medical, University College Dublin, King's College London Medical). One applicant in medicine received interviews from all institutions applied to, a rare accomplishment!

"I'm incredibly proud of the hard work put in by our 2021 graduates," says Alison Derbyshire, head of Senior School. "In a year of unprecedented challenge, they rose to the occasion, showing great resilience. The results speak for themselves!"

Dulwich Pudong's best-fit approach to university and career counseling remains a core strength of our school. Our graduates average only 5.2 applications per student, an incredibly low number. A low number of applications per student strongly indicates that are our graduates are very clear about the pathways which are best for them and are well prepared to succeed in them. These are exactly the type of applicants prestigious universities are looking for.

"While the future of admissions remains uncertain, we are confident that our best practices that focus on deep research, fit, and student-centric counselling will ensure that our students remain competitive regardless of how the landscape changes," says Michael Wert, head of University and Career Counseling at Dulwich Pudong.

(The article is contributed by Lee Mack, director of communications at Dulwich Pudong.)

Beyond graduation: Getting a surprise ride to Boston University

Sevillana Ettinger couldn't believe it when she received a full scholarship ride to Boston University, one of her top choices. Passionate about human behavior, she is gearing up to study psychology as part of BU's honors college. The program will allow her to continue learning in a similarly intimate and communal atmosphere as she has become used to at SCIS.

The multi-talented student is also a singer, having released her single "Salty Waters," a song dedicated to the refugees of the Syrian crisis. Moving forward, she hopes to continue to raise awareness around issues she is passionate about through singing and writing original music.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and moved to Shanghai almost nine years ago. I live here with my dad and two younger brothers, Jaimey and Dylan, who are also students at SCIS. I'm a super curious person and truly enjoy learning, but I also love to sing and writing original music.

Q: Congratulations on BU. How did you react?

I received my decision a couple of days before BU's official decision release. I was at home with my dad (who happened to be calling my grandma) when I suddenly received a surprise email from my college counselor telling me I got a full ride to BU! I couldn't believe it and started cheering with my dad and grandma on the phone. My dad then started crying and it got a little dramatic, because he's a dad, haha. It was a really crazy surprise, and I couldn't be more grateful.

Q: Was BU your top choice?

Actually, I never saw myself going to BU at the time since I had gotten into UCLA and UC Berkeley and was pretty set on committing to either of those. That said, receiving this massive award really pushed me to take BU's offer seriously. After careful research, I soon realized that BU was better suited for the educational experience I was looking for. Unlike the UC's, BU offers the perfect balance between small class sizes (allowing me to get to know my professors and advisers) whilst being an incredible research institution with tons of opportunities. They would also be paying my tuition for four years which was a huge plus!

Both excitement and challenges lying ahead

Sevillana Ettinger is at 2021 class of SCIS Hongqiao.

Q: What do you plan studying?

I'm so excited to study Psychology! It's my favorite subject in the whole world and there's something about human behavior that intrigues me like nothing else. I'm also hoping to engage in other subjects I enjoy such as biology, neuroscience, music and theater. Additionally, I was accepted into BU's honors college, which provides a liberal arts-style curriculum that will allow me to engage in fascinating seminars. I'm excited to make the most out of the research and fieldwork opportunities the school has to offer, too.

Q: What is the scholarship?

I received the Trustee Scholarship: BU's largest merit award which pays for all four years of college. They only give it to a small handful of students, so I really have no idea how I managed to get it!

Q: Are you excited about graduating? About university?

I'm really excited to embark on this new journey! I know it's going to be an incredible experience and I'm so grateful. That said, I'll probably be bawling my eyes out when I leave SCIS. The school has given me so much – more than they'll ever know – and allowed me to be myself, learn incredible things, and have the most supportive community I could ever ask for. I really want to thank the amazing teachers I've had throughout the nine years, the supportive faculty, my peers, my theater buddies and my closest friends. SCIS showed me the values of a true community and I hope to uphold those values for the rest of my life.

Q: How prepared do you feel?

While I think I'm pretty well prepared for the academic rigor, it's definitely going to be a heavy social and cultural adjustment. My immediate family will still be in Shanghai, so it's going to be really hard without them. I have a ton of relatives on the East Coast though, so I'm excited to visit them more often. BU is also huge, with  17,000 undergraduates, so I'm definitely intimidated by that. That said, the friends I've made so far seem really nice and passionate.

Q: Will you still make music?

Yes! I really want to join clubs and organizations within BU's College of Fine Arts to continue writing and even collaborate with other students. I also hope to continue using the arts as a platform for community outreach and charity work (something I was really involved in during my time at SCIS) by joining clubs such as Music Engagement, STEAM at BU, the DREAM program and the Music Society. Through these organizations, I want to raise awareness about issues I'm passionate about such as mental illness, forced displacement and the broken United States criminal justice system, and hopefully make meaningful contributions to people's lives.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

Like a lot of kids, I struggled quite a bit in middle school, socially and personally. Things didn't always come easy to me and I had to be proactive and persist. I would tell my younger self that, despite the obstacles, it's important not to put too much pressure on oneself. Every day is a day for growth and learning, and things will get better, no matter how tough they seem. There are days where I still need to remind myself of that!

Q: What advice do you have for SCIS students who are starting their university search?

It's not only a time to pave the next steps of your future but an opportunity to learn about yourself. As I was looking into what paths I wanted to take, I had to prioritize my values and reflect on who I was both as a person and an academic. I think that's something everyone should take advantage of during their university search process. Also, rejection is redirection. I didn't get into every school I applied to but, looking back, those paths weren't for me. Your acceptances and rejections are meant to be.

(The article is contributed by Mikael Masson, communications office at SCIS.)

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