Top Graduates Share Their University Application Tips

Heading to university soon? Hear from our Class of 2020 alumni, Alex and Bausch, as they share their top tips when applying to university!
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Applying for a university is one of the most important milestones in a student’s life. Aside from the obvious academic considerations, there are other fit factors to think about, including campus location, co-curricular activities, and financial aid options, to name a few.

Two alumni from ISKL’s Class of 2020, Alex Kim and Bausch Koh have been through the extensive university application process, and have been rewarded with acceptances into globally recognized business schools in the US – the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Stern, respectively. Based on their invaluable experience and research, Alex and Bausch take us through the process of applying to a university and share their top tips.

University Application Requirements

Most universities will require an application essay or personal statement to be submitted along with academic transcripts. Bausch encourages applicants to take advantage of this, as “This is a chance for you to write about who you are as a person. Personally, aside from the academics, I wrote about my athletic background, as that helped to convey my character development over the course of my High School years. It is important to stay genuine in those paragraphs because that is what universities will look at to determine whether you are a good fit for them, and vice versa.”

Blog University Application Tips Activities

Alex echoed this sentiment, saying that “I wrote about my experiences in playing jazz with my friends – it was important to not just focus on academic achievements but instead, to show them who you are and what sort of personality you have. In terms of the interviews, it is also similar; there is no right or wrong answer; it is all about telling them about yourself and also getting to know more about the school.”

Preparing for Plan B

Rejection is part and parcel of dealing with responsibilities in life, and Alex reminds us that “University acceptances do not judge you as a person, nor your achievements. Even if you get rejected from a university of your choice, it is not an evaluation of how well you performed in High School. Of course, it is natural to feel disappointed – I have experienced it too and relied on the support of my family and friends to get me through it.”

Bausch added that “One of the most important things to remember if you are faced with rejection is that life goes on; the road has not ended for you. You should always have a target and likely schools as a backup plan, or you might even decide to postpone attending university and apply for an internship first. There are many options for life after High School, so always remain positive and be optimistic about your future.”

How ISKL Prepares You for University

High School students at ISKL can choose to take the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme or the Pursuits Program, which focuses on a targeted area of study and combines student-selected individual IB, Advanced Placement (AP), and High School Diploma courses. Regardless of which pathway each student chooses, all of the advanced academic programs offered provide students with access to an extensive range of IB and selected AP courses in preparation for university entrance. With either of these advanced academic courses on their transcript, students can demonstrate their aptitude to master university-level coursework.

It was at ISKL that Alex first developed an interest in business and economics through the co-curricular activities offered in school. “A lot of my interests stemmed from not just the activities that I participated in at school but also from spending time with my classmates and alumni. When writing my personal statement, there were times when I struggled, but the teachers and counselors at ISKL were always ready to help me figure out how to express myself concisely.

Blog University Application Tips Counseling

At ISKL, a specialist team of experienced and dedicated counselors oversees a comprehensive program that gives students ready access to university selection workshops, grade level seminars, and counseling sessions. Through this, students receive the support they need to navigate the complexities of not just their application process but also the social and emotional challenges that come with the transition to university. A comprehensive university outreach program includes on campus visits by university admission representatives, and ISKL’s counselors work with students to help them choose a program that will provide the personal growth and education best suited to their goals.

For Bausch, ISKL was not just a platform to develop his academic prowess and co-curricular activities. “ISKL helped me grow and develop as a person and hone characteristics that I will bring forward into the future. For example, my role as the Head of STARs (Student Admission Representatives) helped me develop communication and leadership skills and taught me responsibility as a person to be an effective ambassador for the school.”

Final tips

 High School Graduation Ceremony Hat Throwing

According to Alex, “One of the most important things is to keep your head up and strive until the end. Sometimes, decisions will not come as early as expected, so don’t feel down about it. Just keep working until the end because good news will come eventually.”

Bausch says, “It is important to stay true to yourself throughout the process. If you want to pursue something, go for it. If you are undecided about what you want to do, that’s also okay. Everyone has a different path that they take after graduation – you don’t have to follow the cohort. Stay true to yourself and ensure that you are doing what you want to because at the end of the day, you want to be happy with your decision.”

Tackling a university application process might seem daunting at first, but remember that the result will make it worthwhile. Giving yourself sufficient time to prepare and getting help from the right channels will go a long way. 


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