19 Apr, 2021
10 : 00
Filling out university applications can be a daunting process for students and parents alike, with tremendous pressure on students to succeed.
In this article, we turn to the advice of Jonathan Mellen, University Guidance Counsellor at Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing), to help alleviate some of this pressure and put students’ minds at ease.
Get Involved in Co-Curricular ActivitiesFirst and foremost, bear in mind that while academic achievements remain important, universities look far beyond the high school curriculum and grades. Half of ACT and SAT* testing were closed last year because of COVID-19, and many universities are even becoming test-optional. Universities now look at students holistically and, in this, Co-Curricular Activities play a vital role. Parents can encourage their children to get involved in school, community, volunteer or employment activities, as an example.
It is important to note that students specifically interested in applying to UK universities should choose activities that relate to what they plan to study. For instance, a student who wishes to study computer science could join a programming club or a robotics club.
Whether they are interested in computing, stocks, photography or sport, students can choose from the multiple school clubs offered at YCIS Beijing. Some are organised by teachers, while others are run by fellow students with teacher supervision.
Develop Your Soft SkillsBeing part of a student club and interacting with other students can help develop soft skills, such as communication, teamwork and respect. These skills are vital not only during the interview process but also as part of the personal statement or college essay, depending on where the student wants to apply. Both will require students to reflect on their achievements, experiences, qualities, skills and interests.
Practise Reflective WritingParents can encourage their children to prepare for these essays in advance, practising reflective writing with a diary, blog or CV. Here, the importance of character and a good self-assessment comes into play. While the specific requirements for a personal statement or college essay differ, both should present what makes the student stand out through a significant moment in their lives or simply by describing how they got to where they are today.
Build Your Own BrandLast but not least, each student should ultimately aim to build their own brand. What does this mean? Discover what makes them unique as a person and play to their strengths. Students should seek to identify their talents and what they are passionate about. If they can combine talent with passion, and then convey this to their university of choice, this could result in a stellar application.