Tips for ambitious pupils this December

Long summer holidays are the chief perk of being a school pupil – from December to January, South African pupils have a chance to escape the structure of the school day. While it is important to take plenty of time to rest, recuperate and see friends – summer holidays can also be very productive, especially if one has big dreams for tertiary education.

“Competition for spots in university is heating up. Many dream campuses, such as those in the USA and UK, have average acceptance rates of under 6%,” says Rebecca Pretorius, Country Manager for university applications mentoring company Crimson Education.

According to Ms Pretorius, success requires a carefully curated application – one that benefits hugely from summer holidays well spent. She offers some tips for high schoolers who want to one day work in the libraries of Oxford or labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Be involved – create value and impact for the world by working for a social cause that you really care about. Go beyond just volunteering and strive to be involved in an organisational or managerial capacity.

Get a job – on-the-job training and experience in a business, or the specific profession you are interested in, is valuable. Aspire to be more than an observer or passive participant – get involved and take initiative where you can.

Spearhead a project – innovative leadership and entrepreneurship shine on an application. Think about launching a project or small business that showcases your creativity, leadership and organisational skills. Keep social impact and sustainability in mind – you want to create positive change that can continue while you are studying abroad.

Read – deepen your knowledge about one or two key subjects by researching them widely and signing up for online courses. You will need to demonstrate this knowledge in interviews and can boost an application by writing papers or applying this knowledge in projects during your high school years.

Crimson Education was founded in New Zealand in 2013 by two high schoolers, Jamie Beaton and South-African born Sharndre Kushor. Aged 23 and 24 respectively, they oversee the companies’ operations in 30 cities worldwide.