Class of 2022, University of Oxxford
1.The most important thing I learnt after coming to SCIE is to be independent
When I was in middle school, my perception of this world was still limited in a seaside third-tier city located in Fujian Province. Everyday my life was filled with tons of homework which transformed me in to a machine of solving problems, a not uncommon instance under the traditional Chinese education system. However, being the first generation to walk out from the rural area, my mother had perceived a promise beyond the small city. She found SCIE from the internet even when I was in primary school, and set plans about studying abroad in the future for me. I could still remember when I received the offer from SCIE in 8th grade, my father and me had a violent debate on whether to attend. I was unwilling to leave from my classmates and felt anxious about stepping onto an unprecedented yet challenging path, while my father worries about how much value the high tuition fee and distinct education system could bring about.
Nevertheless, after I came to SCIE, I realized that my mother’s decision might not be the best, yet was definitely not incorrect. Here I met elite peers from all around the country and experienced tremendous peer pressure. On the other hand, I also had the opportunity to exhibit my talents. Through interaction with my peers, I discovered that they all had their own ideas: they knew the majors, activities, and kinds of person that suited their paths. Initially, I felt envious towards their ‘freedom’, yet when I spent some time to reflect on myself, I found that I could also achieve the same ‘freedom’. It was me who constructed the cocoon around myself.
Being determined to alter the status quo, I had a one-hour-long conversation with my mother one night. I conveyed my thoughts and wills to plan my future using my own hands and free from her protection. It was not easy to say those words, but I think it’s a necessary and inevitable step that every parent and student should take. Luckily, I have the courage to do so, and my mother has the patience to listen to my words.
After that conversation, I felt the constraints on me from the past finally lifted: I started doing university research, plan my extracurricular activities, and communicate with all kinds of person by myself. I even held some activities that I never dared to imagine in the past. Walking on the road that I pave for myself, I felt unprecedently relaxed and clear about my future. I believe this is what international education should bring to every student.
2.It is more important to learn self-studying than pursuing superficial resumé
Competition and research, both of which offer a rich resume, are attractive to many international students. I have seen countless students, after seeing others participating in the same competition, signed up for all kinds of training sessions on weekends since they were afraid of being left behind. A large proportion of those students might even have tiny interest in those competitions. Others follow the trend of attending so-called prestigious summer schools or scientific research programs. To be sure, these activities have their own value, but definitely not in the form of homogenizing personal CVs. It is the knowledge, experience and perception gained in the process of participating that should really be pursued
Take my personal experience as an example. Although I have participated in some competitions, I do not regard winning the prize as the ultimate goal, but regard the competition as a valuable opportunity to test my knowledge and self-study ability. I have never participated in any competition training class, in my opinion, only gaining the down-to-earth knowledge, rather than delving into the rules or routines of the competition itself to obtain the honor, is really worthy of pride. Relying on class training to win the award is to rely on external help, which diminishes the purpose of the competition, and the honor does not belong entirely to their own.
As for how to study independently, I think the method varies from person to person. Personally, I like to read extended books after class (ask for recommendations from seniors, who can provide invaluable resources) or take online classes. But most importantly, I will summarize what I have learned and make notes and review them regularly.
Knowledge intake is not a one-time process, but rather is about constant review and consolidation. I do not recommend buying too many books to put at home, and then read each one cursorily before throwing it onto the shelf — the so-called fast-food learning. On the contrary, you need to savor carefully, consider every sentence, read it thoroughly until you fully understand its meaning. It is far more useful to peruse a book of interest like this than to skim through hundreds of pages of college textbooks that you may not understand at all.
3.Having friends of the same interests keeps solitude away
Humans are inborn social animals, and we all have a desire to connect with others and build relationships. I was lucky to get to know many excellent classmates in SCIE. What surprises me more is that you can find astonishingly varied kinds of clubs here, covering from niche hobbies to popular subjects.
Out of personal interest, I joined the Chemical Curiosity Club when I was in G1, and was soon deeply attracted by the mysterious and magnificent chemistry elucidated by the lecturer. I also did a lot of visually eye-catching chemistry experiments that I’ve only read about in books. It can be said that it was what I experienced in CCC that ignited my interest in chemistry. Interestingly, CCC has an unwritten ‘theory’: every president was successful in applying fo Oxbridge. I tried to be a vice president when I was in A1, which may have magically helped me get into Oxford.
In addition to the club, I also have several excellent roommates (four Oxford offer holders in my dorm). Two of them, Martin and Max, had inestimable influences on me. We joined CCC club together to discuss chemistry problems and set questions for each other in mock interview before the Oxford interview. Their passion for chemistry impressed me deeply and indirectly influenced my decision to switch my option from biology to chemistry.
In my opinion, learning is never just about input, and it is equally important to output your own ideas. In the communication with them, I was able to share my own thinking and also had the opportunity to accept new ideas, which benefited me a lot. I think it was no accident that all three of us were finally got admitted to Oxford. Qualitative change comes from the accumulation of such communications.
4,Learn from the past, envision the future
Compared with other people, my high school life may not be very exciting, but it is definitely not to my regret. I recognize my goal, have the courage to go on my way, and a group of teachers and classmates who firmly support and help me, these are the precious wealth of my high school life, and even the future.
Finally, I want to send a word to all students: the road of your life is still very long. There is no need to hurry, just do what people at your age will do, enjoy your one and only time of youth without regret is the charm and core of high school life.