Class of 2022, The University of Hong Kong
I have appreciated my time spent in primary and middle school by maintaining a decent GPA without holding a clear vision for my upcoming academic path. All I did to keep up with academics was cram before assessments and tell myself that I would start studying earlier for the next one. Due to the the low-stress academic environment that I was in before coming to SCIE, I didn’t have thought-out plans, which became a hindrance to my college application.
As I was unsure regarding my decisions regarding my major and future career paths, I started my personal statement and activities relatively late. As a result, I had a busy application season. During the second semester of AS, I had a talk with my counselor. I felt extremely self-conscious when he asked me about the books and competitions I had attended in preparation for the application process, since I had only recently selected my major, only just began reading related literature and hadn’t done any competitions at all. Originally, I was picking my major from either economics or biology, and decided to go with biology because I lacked the mathematical foundations necessary for an economics major. However, after reading some books and doing further research, I found that I indeed was interested in biology – specifically, I was interested in medical biology. Although I have considered the medical doctor route, I discovered that I was more interested in biomedical science, which accelerated medical development.
To those who come after me: you should spend time during G-level exploring different majors, be it through physical events or related literature, to find what you are interested in. This will enable you to make an earlier decision on your prospective major, allowing you to start your application preparations earlier.
Experiencing pressure and anxiety
Assessment periods and application seasons can be stressful, and your state of mind is critical to your success in both. You should try to avoid burnout at all costs, as burnout can be detrimental to your progress. Take the CAIE as an example: to me, the CAIE was challenging due to its long timespan. During the AS examination I felt stress like never before, and my emotions were all over the place – although they almost never felt good. I was not motivated to do anything during this time, and rarely felt happy. Instead, I was anxious and felt like any small thing that went wrong would make me fall apart.
I learned that when I felt this way, it was best to shift my attention elsewhere and relax. You may feel like this is a waste of time, since you could be studying instead of having fun, but what I found was while I was in that dreadful state of mind, my efficiency and information retention degraded to such a degree that studying was not worth it, since I would forget everything I read. It worked much better for me to simply take a day off, enjoy myself, and reset my mind to a workable state.
A memorable moment
One fine morning, I was greeted with a single outlook notification instead of the usual few. I took a closer look and saw that it an UCAS notification. Usually, UCAS would send you a notification about your application, and an additional one from the university if you got accepted. Since ICL was the only school that hadn’t gotten back to me, I knew from the lack of a second notification that it was a rejection. I recall feeling quite calm and accepting to the situation, and acknowledged that although ICL was a famous school, it may not have been the best for me anyway.
- As mentioned earlier, my advice is to explore different majors earlier so you can decide which major to study if you haven’t made a decision like my experience. This would give you more time to prepare for any addition examinations that major requires.
- For the UK and HK, I think competitions and other academic or non-academic related activities are not a must, but higher grades in CAIE are given more importance to.
- I personally think that interviews for HK universities are not that academic, even though they did ask me a few academic questions, I think they just want to see that the student is confident and is able to express their thoughts.