Passion and skills
US universities attempt to create campus communities - students with a diverse blend of interests, backgrounds and skills - that will collaborate and thrive together. In the words of an admissions representative from the University of California, universities want to know “who will add value all over the campus - in the lab, on the sports field, on the stage, in the orchestra pit or by being involved in societies and clubs. We want students who are thinkers but also doers.”
US universities will often set multiple short application essays with reflective or philosophical titles. This is the perfect opportunity for your child to demonstrate who they are as an applicant beyond grades and academic achievement, showcasing their engagement in broader activities outside the classroom setting.
In the UK, the UCAS Personal Statement serves a similar purpose. This student writing is the chance for your child to demonstrate important transferable skills - leadership, innovation, communication, resilience - with concrete examples that provide a picture for the admissions team. It’s important to note that for the UK, the focus is academic rather than holistic, reflecting the fact students apply for a specific course rather than to a university as is the case in the US. The Personal Statement is therefore an opportunity to convey real passion for their chosen subject.
It’s crucial that your child engages with a range of co-curricular activities so they can reference these in their applications. At BIS Ho Chi Minh City, we have over 200 activities at the Secondary Campus including sports teams, musical performances, a diverse range of community-centred projects, Model United Nations, F1 in Schools and other activities that help our students to grow as thinkers, leaders, collaborators and contributors. Through this strand of school life, they develop key skills and gain the experience of creating and developing projects, many of which benefit the school and broader communities.
Cedric Chua, Head Student of the BIS Class of 2020 and a recipient of offers from UCLA and UPenn comments: “Through 15 years at BIS, the one constant has been the school's commitment to learning beyond the walls of the classroom. The plethora of cross-curricular activities at BIS - whether it be swimming for the BIS Barracudas, performing with the Chamber Orchestra or tutoring underprivileged youth at the Mai Am Shelter - has widened my perspectives and allowed me to explore my various interests.”
Dedicated University Guidance Team
Having a dedicated team to guide your child through the university application process is also a key factor in application success.
Here at BIS, all year groups receive provision that relates to careers, college and decision-making, including input and material relevant to IGCSE and IB option choices. Senior CUG Counsellor Dr. Simon Finnigan explains further: “From Year 11 onwards, students have access to the powerful Bridge U platform and a programme of bespoke research tasks that facilitate preparation for the application process that begins in Year 12. During their IBDP, students continue to use Bridge U and their research and decision-making is supported through the wealth of specifically-created and curated online content and resources. Extensive feedback is provided on application essays and personal statements and frequent, detailed staff training and the expertise of our team results in recommendations and references that show the true strengths, capacity and potential of our students.”