The journey of entering a prestigious university has always been a challenging process, for both students and parents, and with the recent outbreak of Covid-19, it has become even more difficult and confusing. Communities at schools including students are now being faced with problems that they have never been faced with before, and by not coming together, not sharing solutions, insights, and information, one might not be able to choose the right steps in moving forward and proceeding higher education in the future.
Sinarmas World Academy (SWA) has a dedicated University Guidance Counsellor (UGC), who specialises in guiding students to find their career choices, building their student profiles and portfolios, and entering them into the most suitable universities. More than 90 per cent of all SWA graduates choose to continue studying abroad, and in 2019 alone, more than 50 per cent of the graduates received scholarships for their tertiary education studies; some of them a full ride, which includes tuition, room and board (housing and meals), books, student fees, and roundtrip plane tickets, once or twice a year back home.
To give students and parents a helping hand, Sinarmas World Academy is sharing some insights of what students may need to know and do, in preparing for university admission.
There is no such thing as too early when it comes to preparation. In SWA, students are encouraged to start thinking about their future, their goals and aspirations, as early as primary 6. Parents are advised to seek the school’s consultation to get comprehensive information on their children’s development. With close communication between home and school, a child’s true potential can be identified early, and it will enable more customised guidance and support in their educational growth.
Younger children in primary 6 may not be able to have a clear post-secondary aspiration yet, and it is of utmost importance that parents and schools work together, acting as guides in this thought process, instead of simply dictating thoughts. Once students become more mature in primary 8, their personalities start to become more defined, and their skills more evident, which is why SWA students take their first vocational testing in this grade. They can then identify their possible career choices earlier, and their subjects can start to narrow down and become more focused. This does not mean it cannot change, as there is lots of flexibility built-in, but it means that they are taking a more planned, data-driven, and informed decision-making path. This is the start of them building their 4-year portfolio, from grades 9 to 12.
Not Just Academics, Extracurricular Activities Can Make All the Difference
Needless to say, academic achievement is the most important for university admissions, however, just relying on academics will not be enough to get accepted into top world universities. Top world universities have an acceptance rate of below 15 per cent; that means that out of 1,000 applications received, only a handful of 150 students get accepted.
So what makes these applications stand out from the rest? One of the things is their extracurricular portfolio. Portfolios that have a balance between academic and non-academic achievements are usually better. Schools and parents are responsible for guiding students in finding and selecting enriching non-academic activities that will later be part of their portfolios. World top universities highly appreciate students that exercise humanity, and community service, bringing a positive impact to society. Having the initiative to help the world from an early age is one of the main qualities being looked for in applicants.
Take Vijjasena, for instance; he is a SWA student who was accepted into four US Ivy League schools: Princeton, Columbia, Yale, and Dartmouth, with financial aid and scholarships. During High School, instead of just focusing on academic results, he was also involved in numerous after school activities that had a major social impact. One of them was LETUS-CLUB, where he and his friends raised funds to help local nursing homes adopt solar-power energy. Another one of his activities was organizing a TedX Youth at the school. Also, Howard, another SWA student, who was accepted into top world universities, including Imperial College, UCL, and Tsinghua University, was the president of the UNITED WE BALL club; a club that focuses on raising awareness of basketball and teaching it to less fortunate children around campus. Howard was also a stellar student, academically.
By nurturing strong values, and global citizenship from an early age, the school can help students take positive initiatives in solving real-world problems. This is even more relevant in today’s COVID-19 emergency situation. In fact, several of the students have created new organisations to help during the Covid-19 crisis; one of them is teencov19, a group that has already collected donations and built hundreds of face shields, which they have already started distributing to several local clinics.
Most schools require students to do projects in every subject, but the question is how to make those projects a part of the bigger picture, part of the student portfolio. In SWA, grade 8 students’ projects are already guided and well-planned with the teachers and counselors, to ensure their consistency toward their final career goals, as part of their portfolio. Home and school guidance are crucial in the process of building their portfolios over time, as students tend to get caught in routines and miss the grander picture of their portfolios. One of the most common mistakes being made is that students only start building their portfolio by the end of high school. In SWA, we start helping students to build their portfolios in grade 8, and by the end of high school, they will have a rich4-year, strong, meaningful, and enriching activity profile.
Finance has always been one of the biggest challenges in planning for top world universities. Unfortunately with higher prestige, there are usually higher bills and this makes proper financial planning essential. To give you an idea, to study at an Ivy League school, one will need to spend around IDR 1 billion per year. Nevertheless, let's not let the financials limit the child's potential, and find ways around it. SWA has always taken financial planning seriously and involves parents in the discussion of financial readiness, during university selection counselling. The School has a huge role in supporting children to pursue scholarships, and apply for financial aid, to help ease the financial burden off of parents. In addition to this, SWA itself offers merit-based scholarships, starting from primary 3 students. The scholarships enable children to rise above financial issues, and get the best educational support, when pursuing their dreams. Vijjasena and Howard are two of the many SWA scholarship recipients, who will successfully continue their studies to top world universities, and who were able to secure full financial aid packages for university.
With the right preparation and strategic planning, aiming to study in top world universities is not an impossible dream. Commitment and diligence are required not only from students, but also from parents and the school. A more thorough discussion upon this subject will be done through a live Webinar on 29 April 2020 with three speakers including two SWA students and University and Career Counselor at Sinarmas World Academy, Stanislav Sousek.
For more information, kindly see the school Instagram account @swa_jkt. This FREE live webinar is a small act to inspire and help other students to aim high, and in making the right preparation in pursuing their big dreams. RSVP via bit.ly/swawebinar