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Ticket to a Top USA University – The Experience of a BIS Hanoi student

01 August 2017

Ha Quoc Huy, a Year 13 student at BIS Hanoi, is one of two Vietnamese students who received an offer from the renowned Columbia University in New York City. He’s happy to share his successful university application experience to one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities.

  • British International School Hanoi

Quoc Huy decided to apply to Columbia University for several reasons. The university has an excellent ‘Core Curriculum’ which allows him to try out a lot of different courses like Philosophy, Literature, History, Music or Art.  It’s really a good fit as Huy believes that a scientist also needs to know many other things about the world. In addition, being located in New York City, Columbia University offers students exciting opportunities outside of the classroom so he can do everything he loves including making movies and taking pictures. 

british international school hanoi

Quoc Huy is a very active student at BIS Hanoi and gifted at Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. He studied the A-level program and became one Cambridge International Examinations’ ‘Outstanding Learner’ and best in Vietnam with the ‘Best Across’ Award 2016.

british international school hanoi
 *"Best Across" awards are issued to learners who have attained the highest cumulative total standard marks in a country (in this case Vietnam) over set number of subjects either at IGCSE (8 subjects), AS Level (4 subjects) or A Level (3 Subjects).

However, Huy shared that “high test scores and excellent academic achievement aren’t prerequisite factors to be accepted to top USA universities. Your profile must be different”. The top universities use a holistic review process when evaluating applicants for admissions. It means they are not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores. Instead, they consider a variety of factors: extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background. One of the highlights in Huy’s profile is his personal skills, such as creativity and leadership skills, proven through various extracurricular activities. He also persuaded the university’s admissions officers that he is able to apply his passion into practical works. 

At BIS Hanoi, Huy participated in the globally-renowned Duke of Edinburgh's International Award - a programme of personal development for young people aged between 14 and 25.  

Duke of Edinburgh International Award

In April 2016, Huy did research on improving solar cells’ performance with a Physics professor at the National University of Hanoi. With this practical research, Huy won the first prize in the "Frontiers in Material Science" competition for high school students in Southeast Asia. In addition, he joined in the "Actions for Earth" contest which aims to provide environmental solutions and waste reduction. His team has recently won the 1st prize of the contest.

About his submitted essays to Columbia University, Huy’s writing shows deep and personal reflection and highlights what he can bring to the community. He shared how he had persuaded his father to agree with his decision of studying a Science major instead of Business Management and his plan to apply solar energy research into improving poor living conditions. Huy believes student life is not all about learning but also about willingness to work and support the community.

Talking about the achievement, Huy says that five years of studying at British International School Hanoi was a great advantage. He learned a lot from his dedicated teachers at BIS who are some of the best teachers in Hanoi and provides useful learning sources as well as motivated him to explore new things in his favorite subjects. The proactive BIS Hanoi community here also helped him to develop his personal and creative skills. With the Principal’s support, he created an amazing school video to end the school’s academic year 2014-2015. The school appreciates his contribution and believes that Quoc Huy will have many more wonderful achievements to come.