The Keystone Academy Class of 2021 has received offers from more than 140 leading colleges and universities across the world.
Keystone’s fourth graduating cohort of 76 students, the largest since the school’s establishment, has weathered the challenges since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and is looking forward to the next stage of their academic journey in top-notch institutions here and abroad.
Amid interruptions in the current school year, the class underwent a rigorous college and university admissions process, with more than 76 percent participating in the early application process, and each getting a satisfactory admission notice.
A number of selective and highly ranked universities around the world also gave Keystone students admission offers during the regular admissions cycles. Several members of this year’s crop have also been awarded full scholarships.
The high-caliber institutions from which our students have received offers come from 16 countries. This includes first-time offers from Dartmouth College and The University of Texas at Austin (both in the United States), Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium), St George’s University (Grenada), ArtEZ University of the Arts (Netherlands), and Yonsei University (South Korea), among many others.
Nearly 70 percent of this year’s class have applied to universities in multiple countries, with a third of them selecting to try more than three possibilities.
The breadth and diversity of this year’s university offers demonstrates the strength of a Keystone education, reflecting both its high academic standards and also attesting to the quality of co-curricular provision that students receive throughout their tenure at the school.
“Transformation” in the Class of 2021
Head of High School Dr. Diana Martelly says the Keystone Class of 2021 has experienced numerous ups and downs this academic year and likened their situation to a roller coaster ride. This year’s graduating class moved to distance learning in the second half of their Grade 11 year and took their end-of-year exams at the beginning of their Grade 12 year. In addition, they had to adjust to several interruptions and deal with the anxieties of uncertain test schedules (they are taking their Diploma Program exams at publishing time).
Even so, Dr. Martelly tells the outgoing seniors to celebrate one significant “up” in their high school journey: “they have found college placements where they will grow, thrive, and be happy”.
Notwithstanding the impacts of the pandemic, the academic proficiency of this year’s class increased as a whole compared with previous cohorts. Office of College Counseling (OCC) Director Percy Jiang says this “reflects the continuous improvement in Keystone students learning in a bilingual environment”.
Mr. Jiang also notes that most members of the current class entered Keystone before the ninth grade and grew up together with peers in the school’s residential community setting. The outgoing seniors displayed this growth at a recent exhibition titled “Transformation: Character and Community Presentations” where they showcased artifacts that synthesized their past (before coming to Keystone), present (current changes and feelings), and future (lessons to be applied). A number of students presented service projects they had begun after arriving at Keystone, while others displayed artworks, research articles, and publications that they worked on over their years in school.
“Our current seniors have learned so much from the Keystone and IB curricula, making their skills more varied,” Mr. Jiang adds. “Their outstanding performance in different fields has laid a good foundation for their multi-professional or inter-professional study in the university.”
About the selection of college majors, Mr. Jiang says this year’s class has shown diversity and versatility, with at least 19 seniors who will be engaging in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field and at least 12 members who will be going to the arts field. Students have received offers from top-notch institutions such as the Rhode Island School of Design and Berklee College of Music.
Liberal arts majors remain the preferred course of study of Keystone students for the fourth year. However, many in this year’s class who intend to go to American liberal arts institutions have also considered other schools from other countries due to the pandemic.
Responding to Changing Needs
Schools and teachers worldwide are constantly overcoming the challenges of distance learning and teaching disruptions. At Keystone, despite the limited onsite activities related to college applications, the OCC and the High School Office have maintained communication and interactions with admission offices of international universities to promote student applications and share Keystone’s back-to-school arrangements and learning practices amid the pandemic.
“The Office of College Counseling, along with other departments, continues to shape Keystone’s platform to recommend students accurately and respond to the changing needs or requirements especially in this period,” Mr. Jiang explains further.
College admission representatives worldwide rely on continuous communication with schools—and here is where the Keystone Office of College Counseling comes in; we make sure universities are aware of how our school has maintained vitality during this time.
For example, Keystone and several international schools in Beijing organized a joint virtual college fair in October 2020, featuring over 100 colleges and universities worldwide to bring application resources closer to students and parents. Keystone teachers from Grades 11 and 12 provided students with additional guidance and support for their college application materials.
Other Keystone units, including the Parent and Alumni Relations Office and the Center for Student Development (CSD), also assisted high school families regarding college applications, virtual conferences, and counseling sessions.
In all of this, Dr. Martelly notes how this year’s graduating seniors have embodied and developed the growth mindset over time.
“The Resilient Class of 2021 will be equipped, like no other, to face adversity, and thus, to contribute to solving important problems,” she adds. “I would like to inspire this class to work hard to stay optimistic and use their talents and skills to make the world a better place. Resilience plus optimism is a powerful combination!”
Head of School Mr. Malcolm McKenzie says the Class of 2021 has “coped with major pandemic disruptions with grace, fortitude, and a commendable spirit.”
They will leave Keystone well prepared for adversity, and ready to take advantage of opportunities expected and unexpected. I know that they will be outstanding ambassadors for our school.