February 8, 2018
Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) is proud to announce that Ruby, a Year 13 student from our Gubei Campus, has received a conditional offer to study Psychological and Behavioral Sciences from the prestigious Girton College at the University of Cambridge.
After moving to China from Vancouver, Canada, Ruby has been attending YCIS Shanghai since Year 6. Below is an interview with Ruby about how her hard work and study at YCIS Shanghai helped her obtain such a prestigious offer.
Congratulations on your acceptances! You’ve received an offer from Cambridge – why did you choose that university?
I found that the programme at Cambridge really suited me. I was looking at both Oxford and Cambridge and realised that Cambridge’s course had more of a focus on Sciences (which is my area of interest), whereas Oxford is more focused on Psychology.
Was writing the Personal Statement difficult?
I found it quite easy, thankfully! Because I take International Baccalaureate at YCIS, I’ve definitely developed my writing skills. This helped hugely with the personal statement! Taking English Literature at Higher Level was an enormous benefit to in terms of writing skills. In our Year 12 classes with our University Guidance Office (UGO) we learned how to write the personal statement for UK universities. With that knowledge, I had an idea of what I wanted to say, and I also watched advice videos on YouTube to help me prepare. Ms. Ozkurt from UGO also helped me a lot and stayed late to help ensure my statement was perfect.
Did you have an interview?
Yes, as I applied early I was able to have an interview in Shanghai with a professor from Trinity College. I did some research on the professor in advance of the interview and learnt that he was a professor of Natural Sciences.
Overall, I think the interview went well! I wasn’t nervous, actually, even though Cambridge was kind of like a “dream school” for me, but I already had an offer from the University of Toronto, so I didn’t feel as much pressure.
I did practice interviews with Mr. Liu from UGO. He really helped me prepare for the interview because he teaches IB Psychology and I don’t actually take the course. He also gave me a book about Psychology which was really useful. I selected some studies from that and read those in advance of the interview to prepare, along with reviews of materials from my science classes.
What kind of questions were you asked during your interview?
A lot of the questioning was about why I chose the course. Also, the professor asked me, “Do you know about the Human Genome Project?”, and when I said yes, because I had studied it in class, he said, “Okay, I’m going to ask you about the Human Brain Project, then.” I realised that this was to challenge us with something we didn’t know about to see how we would think and how we could analyze a situation. I used my logic and experience to answer his questions. Again, outside reading really helped me to stand out with this.
How did taking the International Baccalaureate programme at YCIS help you with your application?
I’m taking four Higher Level classes, two of which are in Science (Biology and Chemistry), plus Math and English Literature. I also take Geography and Chinese as a First Language.
In IGCSE, I was awarded Top in China for Sciences, which was also helpful for my application. We also study Theory of Knowledge (TOK) at school which is really useful because the interview mirrored the TOK course conversations we have with our teacher.
I did a two-week-long internship last summer at a Pharmaceutical Lab, working on immunology and working with medicines for HIV and Swine Flu. It was really hands-on and I had to show a lot of initiative as I was the only high school student there, and that put me at an advantage when trying to stand out in my application.
I’m completing the bilingual IB diploma (first language in both English and Chinese), which not so many students at other schools do, and this also helped me stand out.
Do you think studying at YCIS gave you any other advantages?
The school environment at YCIS itself is really supportive, and the students aren’t as “competitive” with each other as they are at other schools. At other schools, if you told your classmates you got accepted at Cambridge they would be jealous, but here when I told my friends, they were happy for me. When I was applying, the teachers were also extremely supportive. They said me that it was okay to focus on my interview. When I told them I was accepted, they were all very excited for me.
What advice would you give students who would like to follow in your footsteps?
My main advice would be to not be too stressed out and nervous. Apart from all of the work and preparation, I think this is why I was selected over other candidates. Everyone was so nervous while waiting to be interviewed, talking about the acceptance rate for this school and that school. I think they made themselves too anxious. I thought the interview was a really fun experience, and I approached it as a really interesting conversation with someone I thought had incredible expertise to share.
YCIS Shanghai staff and students are extremely proud of Ruby and all our Year 13 students for their hard work and tremendous accomplishments. To learn more about YCIS Shanghai’s IB programme and the benefits it offers our students, please click here. And to learn more about our University Guidance Office and the support and services they offer, please click here.