As April comes to an end, Year 13 students around the world preparing for their post-secondary academic careers are coming to decisions on where they will be spending their next four years. At the Yew Chung International School of Beijing, students have been flooded with exceptional offers from schools across the globe.
For Year 12 students, the university application journey is just beginning. We spoke with two of our graduating seniors, Rene Huang and Wilfred Wu, to hear their reflections on their college application experience and what advice they would give to their younger classmates who are starting to consider their college applications.
Where will you be attending university next year?
Wilfred: I will be heading to London or Vancouver, Canada for university, but have not yet made my final decision.
Rene: I’m still considering between UCL in London and UBC in Vancouver.
What were the most important factors for you when choosing which universities you wanted to apply for?
Wilfred: The most important factor for me was whether or not the university had the major I wanted to study. Obviously, I would not choose to go to Oxford if they didn’t offer something I wanted to study, even if I had received the opportunity to go.
Rene: The major. Since I would like to go to work as soon as I graduate, I want to ensure the course I study gives me the skills I need to find a good job in the current market.
What are you most looking forward to about your university experience?
Wilfred: I’m most looking forward to learning new knowledge at university as well as a gaining a host of new experiences.
Rene: I’m looking forward to living in another country and learning to be independent.
What was the most difficult part of the application process?
Wilfred: There was nothing in particular that was very difficult about the application process, especially because we had a university guidance counsellor to help us. What was most difficult was on top of every other project we had for classes, we needed to complete our applications according to the set deadlines.
What do you wish you had done differently (if anything)?
Wilfred: I wish I had demonstrated more passion towards studying what I wanted to study in my personal statement. I definitely feel that I should have spent more time and paid more effort to my personal statement to perfect it.
Rene: I wish I had chosen the universities more carefully when applying. Since I didn’t look as closely as I should have into each of the course details, I ended up wasting some of my choices when I could have applied for other universities that were more suitable for me.
What advice do you have for Year 12 students beginning the university application process now?
1. Definitely start early. This doesn’t mean to have a place in mind where you want to go by the end of your first year of IBDP; it simply means to start thinking about what you might want to study in university
2. Do a lot of research about the universities you want to attend. In addition to the university itself, you should find out about the country that the university is located in (lifestyle, living costs, culture, etc.)
3. Don’t take rankings too seriously. I started off by looking at rankings because it was a good way to find out what universities are out there, but the reason you choose to apply to certain universities shouldn’t just be because they rank high.
4. Just because some universities are known for their academic excellence or are more famous doesn’t mean you should attend them. There is sometimes a tendency for employers to look at which university you graduated from, but don’t rely solely on the fame of your university to get a job. The degree you receive is the more important credential that employers will consider in addition to other factors like work or volunteer experience.
5. Always keep your options open at this stage. There is no rush for you to complete your university application in Year 12 or over the summer, unless you’re applying for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, or Oxbridge (Universities of Oxford and Cambridge), which have early deadlines. It’s likely that you’ll change your mind about what you want to study or where you want to end up by the end of IBDP, which is why it’s important to put in applications to a range of universities.