Go after Your Dream! A Success Story of Recently Graduated Students

It has been a challenge to achieve academic success during this year amidst the COVID-19 crisis, but nevertheless students at Wellington have been dedicated to accomplishing their dreams after many years of hard work.
What better way is there than talking directly with some of the most notable recent graduates to share in their success? Being accepted by some of the best universities in the world for the majors they have chosen was probably uncertain this year due the unusual circumstances, but they did it!
We chatted with Cindy and Willy, long-term residents in Tianjin, both of whom are very talented and confident young people. 

Cindy

When did you start your studies at Wellington College International Tianjin?I first came to Wellington College Tianjin in Year 7 and studied here for three years before I was transferred to another school, and I returned in Year 12, and it was here that I graduated.

Why Wellington? What attracted you the most to study in Wellington?

The Wellington College education system was the most important reason to return and what attracted me to graduate here. Of course, I also missed my classmates and teachers, but more importantly, the whole environment at the College. It does not feel like a school, but rather like a home, a big family, where everyone treats me as someone they value.

 

 

Briefly describe for us a typical day in your life as a student at Wellington.

During a typical day at Wellington, I attend a tutoring group and lessons, as well as meeting with my friends for a chat, and attending after-school activities. Students can choose whatever we’re interested in to spend some down time. After the activities, there is prep time when students do homework, after which we go home.

What do you do during the time you have to yourself?

I spend most of my free time with my friends, and even when we have heavy academic demands, we work and study together, which is less stressful than working alone. I also spend time with my pet, who gives me a lot of comfort when I am feeling stressed.

What part of studying at Wellington College International Tianjin will you miss the most?

When I leave Wellington, I will really miss high school life, and of course spending time with my friends.

 

 

What universities have you received offers from so far, and where are they? Why did you choose these universities as your dream universities?

I have received offers from the University of Virginia and the University of Rochester in the U.S., and from UCL, Warwick, and Edinburgh in the UK. I plan to major in Business, and I was looking for universities that would provide the best preparation for my future career, so I chose those with the strongest Business majors. I also considered the location and rankings of the institutions, as well as what they could offer in addition to the academic aspects.

Talk us through the process of applying to universities abroad. What do you have to do, how long does the process take, and what is expected of you?

Regarding the application process, there were differences between applying in the U.S. and applying to the U.K.  The U.S. process was a long one, because it involved taking many tests that I had to study for, such as the TOEFL and SAT tests. In addition to making sure that my grades in AS, the first year of A-Level, were good, I participated in many extra-curricular activities to show that I was a well-rounded student.

I also had to prepare an application essay with a Personal Statement and get recommendation letters from teachers. The process took me about three years. The U.K. application process was similar, but a little less paperwork.

 

Once I had finally decided to go to the University of Virginia in the U.S., I had to fulfil a long list of requirements regarding my courses, accommodation, health aspects, and the necessary visa. I plan to stay in a dorm and have already discussed sharing with a friend from Beijing.

 

Why is the application essay so important, and what do you think made your essays so successful?

The essay is an important part of the application process because it allows me to really express myself. While anyone can get good grades or do special activities, in an essay, you can really show who you are, what kind of person you are, what you value the most in your life, and what has shaped you. You can also explain what makes you suitable to be a part of a particular university, and what kind of contribution they can expect from you.

Which part or parts of the process did you find most challenging, and why?

The essay was the most challenging part of the process, because each university would ask different questions, all of which required plenty of writing, and sometimes I felt I was running out of ideas, or that the questions were difficult to answer. I had to spend a lot of time thinking, exploring, and coming up with ideas that I could really develop.

With whom did you have an admissions interview? How did you prepare?

I was offered an alumni interview with someone from one of the universities. I prepared by doing some online research to find typical interview questions. I needed to know what I’m looking for, and make sure I know who I am and what I want. I also needed to know what I expect from the university, and what really attracted me and made me want to apply to that university.

How did you feel after the interview? Did you get any feedback from the interviewer after the interview?

After the interview, I felt relieved that it was over. The person who interviewed me commented that it had been a good interview but was not allowed to give more specific feedback.

 

 

What support and assistance did you get during the application process?

I received a lot of valuable support from my two counsellors, including help with collecting the necessary letters, writing the essays and generally getting everything in order.

How has being a student at Wellington College prepared you for studying abroad?

The College enabled me to experience an English-speaking environment, and also encouraged independent learning, a skill which is really necessary at university. I also learned many social skills which will be required when I have to interact with people from all around the world. Studying at an international school gave me the opportunity to get to know more about other backgrounds and other cultures.

 

 

You will always be known as the Class of 2020 – the Covid-19 year. In spite of very difficult circumstances, you managed to get to the top. How did the virus impact you and your studies, and what you have learnt from this experience?

When students had to switch to e-learning, it caused a lot of stress and panic, especially when exams were cancelled and the future looked uncertain. I had felt like giving up, but through their support and encouragement, my teachers and counsellors got me back on track, and I managed to complete all my work and graduate. It was a hard but memorable experience, and I learned that it’s important to stay strong at all times, even if it’s just to support others.

Please share one piece of advice you have for other students.

The most important skill to focus on while you’re applying to universities is time management. You have to have a clear plan of what needs to be accomplished, and when, because deadlines are really tight, and you have to make sure to meet them.

Is there anything you would like to add and share with our readers?

Even though it’s still a hard time right now and the situation is serious outside of China, those who are going abroad shouldn’t worry because they won’t be alone. So, my final advice is, “Be safe, and don’t be scared.”

 

Willy

 

When did you start your studies at Wellington College International Tianjin?

I started at Wellington College in year 7, in 2013.

Why Wellington? What attracted you the most to study in Wellington?

I chose Wellington after searching through the official website and seeing their photo and video galleries and seeing that they had so many different activities going on. I was also attracted by the diversity in the College.

Briefly describe for us a typical day in your life as a student at Wellington.

I have lessons as usual, like any other student, but I spend my breaktimes and lunchtimes talking with different people and trying to use English or Mandarin with my friends as well.

 

 

What part of studying at Wellington College International Tianjin will you miss the most?

I have become used to studying in small classes with very few students. When I go to university, there will be many people crowded into one place, listening to one person, so teachers will not be able to pay very much attention to me, and I think the interest and attention that the teachers have given to me since Year 11 is what I will miss the most. The individual attention and support I have received at Wellington will help me to excel at university.

What universities have you received offers from so far, and where are they? Why did you choose these universities as your dream universities?

I have received an offer from YONSEI University in Seoul, one of the best private universities in South Korea, founded in 1885. I chose this university because they have an international institute with students from around the world, and I think such a society will be great in helping me adapt after 17 years of living in the same place.

 

 

What are the fields you finally decided to study in at university?

I chose International Relations. I feel suited to this type of field because I can speak English, Mandarin and Korean, and in International Relations, one communicates with many international people, or works with people around the world.

 

 

Which part or parts of the process did you find most challenging, and why?

I found parts of the application process very hard, especially the application essay. The process should be very carefully thought through and carried out because although there are several chances to succeed at later stages, it’s important to do well at this stage, but getting good grades for a subject is the most important part.

The application essay is very important. The university is giving students the chance to show what kind of person they are, and what kind of personalities and abilities they have. Students can showcase themselves in their Personal Statement in the application essay.

The Personal Statement was the most challenging because I had to think about the past and what I had done, my activities, the academic progress that I had made, and what kind of person I am.

Part of the application process involves an interview. I had my admission interview with my university counsellor at Wellington, and he prepared me by getting me to think about what kind of questions I would be asked, and the answers I could give. After the interview, I didn’t get any actual feedback, but I felt relieved that it was over.

 

 

What support and assistance did you get during the application process?

What made my essay so successful was the help I received from the university counsellor at Wellington College and people around the school who advised me on things like grammar and where I could give more insight in the essay.

 

 

How has being a student at Wellington College prepared you for studying abroad?

Wellington College has prepared me for studying abroad because it has a lot of diverse nationalities among teachers, friends and classmates. I feel that talking with different people and learning about new types of language and culture have prepared me for studying abroad because it’ll be easier to accept and understand others.

 

 

What are the steps to follow after you have secured a place at a university? 

Briefly explain about the visa process and other procedures you need to follow in order to go abroad.

Since I chose a university in Korea, this process will be complicated because I am still going to be spending time in both China and Korea and will have to get my tourist visa processed whenever I travel back to China.

 

 

You will always be known as the Class of 2020 – the Covid-19 year. In spite of very difficult circumstances, you managed to get to the top. How did the virus impact you and your studies, and what you have learnt from this experience?

I learned through this experience that you know yourself better. Although I found it quite hard getting through the virus crisis since students couldn’t do their exams or have their graduation, I have become more independent and self-disciplined, with better time management, and these are important skills for my future, too.

I feel proud of what I’ve done. Although I wasn’t always a student who worked hard, as from Year 10, I started to view the world more widely, and think about what kind of university offered the opportunities that I was looking for, and which subjects I would need to study. I came to realize that a person must develop from being immature to being mature, and through this process understand how certain subjects are essential and influential.

 

 

How do you balance a hectic academic schedule and your free time? What do you do during the time you have to yourself?

I like to do sport, such as football, swimming and badminton. Whenever I’m frustrated with an academic task, I put it aside and go out for some exercise, like walking around or running, just to relieve the stress, and then come back again and start from a new point.

 

 

Please share one piece of advice you have for other students.

I advise those who are staying at Wellington to enjoy the time that they are spending here right now, feel great appreciation for the teachers and the people around them, and make the best of the opportunities that they are given. I feel that Wellington has been a special place for me to enjoy all the things I could do, and I was able to choose what I wanted. “This place was just like a dream to me.”