Simone's Story
 
 Simone now studies Economics and Politics at Yale.

Simone now studies Economics and Politics at Yale.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I come from Milan, Italy. My American experience started when I did a one-year exchange my fourth year of high-school in California, just north of San Francisco. After the exchange, I decided to apply to American colleges. Here at Yale, I also did two exchanges, one semester I spent in Paris, and one in Freiburg, Germany!

What inspired you to study at Yale?

Yale has offered me an array of opportunities that are seldom found in Europe. Here I could do research with professors from day 1, I benefited from a network of internships, and enjoyed the American campus life (so different from the standard European experience!).

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

The application process was long and very competitive. You need a strong profile, good motivation, and a decent amount of luck. My general advise to high-school students is always to do what they like, follow your passions and don't worry too much about resume-building. Once it is time to apply, try your best to express that passion and you'll sound more genuine, more mature, and generally more competitive.

What has your experience been like so far?

My experience at Yale has been an incredible journey. One which I would recommend to anyone who has the privilege of being offered admission. The sheer amount of opportunities you are offered here makes the time worthwhile, not to mention the diversity of people you'll meet, the array of courses, clubs, activities of all sorts you'll have access to.

Try and do something outside of our somewhat strict high-school system. Follow your passions. make use of your incredible cultural baggage. And sign up for a mentor, we’ll help out as much as we can!

 
Mia's Story
 
 Mia now studies History at Oxford.

Mia now studies History at Oxford.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Mia; I grew up in vibrant, bustling London and spent my teen years obsessing over politics, singing jazz, and soaking up all the art and culture my city had to offer.

What inspired you to study History?

I had always loved the arts and the humanities most at school; for me, course-wise, it was a toss-up between History and English. I also wanted to pursue my interests in Art History and politics. In the end, though, I realised that what I loved most about studying pieces of literature was their historical context; and that in a History degree I would be able to take courses which focused on art or political history if I wanted.


Deciding to apply to Oxford was easy: as soon as I'd looked at the course structure online and been to the Open Day I knew I wanted to come here. The course seemed perfect for me, and I loved everything about Oxford - the city, the colleges, the tutorial system. I knew I had to give it a shot! .

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

The process was pretty rigorous and more involved than my other uni applications - but I didn't feel like they were asking for too much for the sake of it. It felt like Oxford really cared about admitting the right people. The interview experience was amazing... perhaps not the word you'd expect me to use! But whilst the interviews were nerve-wracking, they were also exciting - and the experience of staying in Oxford, in College for three days was brilliant. I made friends there who I'm still in touch with now, even though we're all at different unis!

My advice to prospective applicants would be to choose a subject you love, a college you love (although don't worry too much about colleges if you can't get a look around them) and give it a shot. If you get to the interview stage, try to enjoy the experience - even if you don't get in, you'll have had the chance to talk to a world expert about something you're both passionate about, as well as a free weekend in Oxford! There's so much to gain, and you've nothing to lose.

What has your experience been like so far?

I am loving being at Oxford. It's truly a 'work hard, play hard' experience - there is a lot of work and it's challenging, but there is so much more to life here than the academic. I've made some incredible memories already, and I'm only in my second term! My friends are fantastic, and I found that we all met and became close very quickly.

I thought that everyone here would be a genius and "posh", but that hasn't been the case at all. The collegiate system means you've got a ready-made community, and it's so easy to meet like-minded people. So far, this has been the best time of my life!

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

When I was applying, I wish I'd known that Oxford take the admissions process incredibly seriously, and that they care deeply about admitting the right people. I also wish I'd known that the 'right' people aren't necessarily the cleverest people! They're just the people who they feel will thrive the most in the tutorial system. So, if you don't get in, it's because Oxford believes another uni will be a better fit for you.

I decided to become a mentor because, as a state schooler who didn't really know anyone who'd been to Oxford, I would have really benefitted from a mentor myself. I want everyone who wants to come here to have the absolute best chance of getting in, regardless of their background! To be able to play a part in levelling the playing field, however small, is a real privilege.

 
Anna GrossHistory, Oxford, UK
Thamina's Story
 
 Thamina now studies Political Science at Duke.

Thamina now studies Political Science at Duke.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Thamina, I was born and raised in Munich, Germany. I actually started my college career at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich but I had always wanted to study abroad in the U.S. for one year. I applied to a couple of study abroad programs and got accepted by Duke, Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard. I chose Duke in the end and arrived in Durham, NC in August of 2014. However, after one semester I realized I didn't want to leave, so applied for transfer admission, got accepted and will be graduating from Duke in May 2017.

What inspired you to choose your course?

I studied Political Science at my previous school back in Germany because I thought I was going to end up in journalism. However, at Duke I have been exposed to a lot of great opportunities in the entrepreneurship space, which is why I wanted to explore innovation and tech more. I am really interested in social media and digital marketing, which is why I believe that my combination of media studies and innovation & entrepreneurship served me well in the end. Could I go back in time, I would not have chosen Political Science as my major. .

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

I'm not going to lie, the application process is exhausting and time-intensive. If you don't have the stamina and strong will to invest a couple of months if not even a year, don't do it. Most countries don't have a lot of resources and for most of the time, you'll have to figure out things on your own. Sometimes, cultural and language barriers can be challenging as well. My advice: Reach out to teachers to ask for recommendation letters early on (as in 6 months before the actual deadline) and provide them with as much guidance and help as possible. Create an extensive to-do list for every university you want to apply to. While most applications have the same requirements, some schools may ask you for additional paperwork or complimentary essays. Lastly, be true to yourself when you're writing your essays. Admissions officers are really good at figuring out if someone is genuine or fake. I know this sounds all very intimidating but I can tell you, in the end, it'll be worth it.

What has your experience been like so far?

I have never been as happy as I am at Duke. Ever since I stepped foot on this gorgeous campus, everything finally seems to make sense to me. The workload is very heavy but as someone who loves to be challenged and to learn every single day, this is the perfect place. I have developed incredibly meaningful relationships with my classmates, professors, supervisors, and Duke alumni. Moreover, I have gained so many different perspectives I never could have gained in Germany. Plus, as someone who is both into academics/professional development AND sports, Duke is as good as it can get. Our men's basketball program is one of the best in the country and attending almost every single game has been one of my favorite college memories. Duke has allowed me to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be and for that I will always be grateful.

Why are your top tips for other students?

Start early! I started doing my research about a year before I applied. Don't underestimate how long it can take to get all the paperwork done. Plus, if you have to take the SAT/ACT and/or the TOEFL, you might want to start even earlier than that because if you get a bad score, you probably have to take it again. Plan for all eventualities!

 
Anna GrossPolitics, Duke, Germany
Abdur's Story
 
 Adur now studies Computer Science at Harvard.

Adur now studies Computer Science at Harvard.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm from the historic Pakistani city of Lahore, and while Lahore's where I grew up, I still maintain strong ties back to the local village where most of my family resides to this day. I came into college thinking of doing economics and a fair bit of soul-searching later finally settled on Computer Science last semester! Feel free to reach out to ask me about Academics, Harvard or anything in between!

What inspired you to study Computer Science?

There were a couple things that cemented my decision to study CS. CS is a very broad area applicable to a vast amount of disciplines and at the end of the day, I can still combine my CS knowledge with Economics and work in developmental economics (my academic interest). I also find CS very intellectually stimulating, which is something I value a lot.

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

I personally found the application process pretty manageable once I understood the ins and outs of it. Generally speaking, it really helped to keep in mind that the goal was to accurately portray my true self as I am, rather than to 'tailor' my app according to what I think the admission officers are looking for, or worse, to modify aspects of it to better appeal to the committee. However, there's much more to be said on the topic and I'd be happy to go over my experience and the lessons I learned in detail!

What has your experience been like so far?

I've found Harvard to be a pretty welcoming place so far. While it has its ups and downs, overall the people are nice and encouraging, the professors are always available and the University genuinely listens to student concerns.

What is your top tip for other applicants?

Reach out to others and get your work critiqued! I know that sounds very intimidating but getting outside views on how I was coming across in my application really helped me figure out whether it was authentic to what I wanted to put across. This specifically applies to close friends/family members as they can read your application and tell you how it compares to your 'real life' self!

 
Priyankaa's Story
 
 Priyankaa did a Master of Research in Cancer at Imperial College London.

Priyankaa did a Master of Research in Cancer at Imperial College London.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am Priyankaa, I was born and raised in Chennai, India. I am a science enthusiast with a zest for cancer research. I hold a Bachelors degree in Biotechnology and recently competed my Masters in Cancer Biology from Imperial College London. I am currently on the lookout for research opportunities in this field.

What inspired you to study Medicine at Imperial?

Inspired by my mother, a general medical practitioner working in the field of oncology, I developed an interest to understand cancer at the molecular level. This course at Imperial College London was a great springboard.

What was your experience like?

I finished my course last September. The experience was brilliant, be it the academic environment, peers or the professors, Imperial scores high. Additionally, living in London was a very memorable experience.

What is your top tip for other applicants?

Brace yourselves for a journey that will make a mark in your career. Just be confident and never lose hope. Always believe that things will work out in unexpected ways (trust me, it does).

 
Anna GrossMedicine, Imperial, India
Valentin's Story
 
 Valentin in studying PPE at King’s College London.

Valentin in studying PPE at King’s College London.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Valentin, I grew up in Salzburg, Austria. Prior to University I worked as a waiter and completed my mandatory civil service as a paramedic for the Red Cross, where I got to work in emergency services and refugee camps. In my free time I like to go running and cycling and I'm always up for an overly intense philosophical discussion.

What inspired you to study PPE at King’s College London?

For me the best part in school was always when I managed to combine different subjects to analyse a complex issue, so PPE was a natural choice. Furthermore, I wrote my graduation paper on the topic of "Ancient Greek Democracy" and included sections about Plato and Aristotle and a comparison of economic systems between ancient Greece and modern developed countries. I enjoyed writing the paper quite a lot and it has definitely made me more confident in my choice to study PPE at King's.

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

For me it was quite tiring because I did not have any support or input and I was working during almost all of the application process which didn't leave much time for preparation. My advice for prospective applicants is to research their options well before making a decision and to make a clear plan before applying so that you won't be surprised by anything that comes up along the way, especially if you have much work to do besides the application. Start early and take your time, there is no need to rush it.

What has your experience at King’s College London been like so far?

It was a bit intimidating at first because I didn't know anyone here and I had never been to London before, but at Uni we're all in a very similar situation. King's is very international so you get to experience many different cultures and perspectives which makes studying even more enjoyable. London is really exciting, there is always something new to explore and it never gets boring. With King's in the centre you're all set up to enjoy London to the fullest. The many clubs and societies offer all kinds of activities and there is always some interesting event at one of the big Universities. Additionally, you're surrounded by all kinds of organisations that offer jobs and internships, so you'll get all the career advice you could ask for.

What is your top tip for applicants from Austria?

Make sure to have someone early on who can write you a good recommendation letter in good English and for some degrees you'll have to provide a graded essay written in English, so talk to your teachers as soon as possible to have this ready (e.g. for some history courses).