If you want to apply to US or UK universities (or college) but need some outside help, read Princeton mum Kimberly Scott’s account of who and what smoothed out the rather complicated application process.
I wasn’t surprised when my daughter came to me expressing an interest in studying at one of the American universities. I was no expert on what an Ivy League or other top university education could bring; but I did know it opened doors. What I didn’t know was the volume of opportunity such a move could mean for her.
I know this now, and I know it was the best family decision we ever made.
Of course, I had lots of questions. With the help of Crimson Education, who we contacted after reading a newspaper article on the extensive support they can provide, I learnt both what the application process would involve and what would come after, if indeed she was successful in her quest to attend an Ivy League or other top US school.
Luckily, my daughter’s supporters at Crimson (and she had many) were both knowledgeable and patient. They were happy to answer questions from both of us, and plan it out for us, step-by-step.
So, what have I learnt? And, more importantly, what can I share from the point of view of having a child now attending Princeton? Hopefully, the following thoughts will help parents who have children considering a similar path understand the process and, just as importantly, alleviate any concerns they may have.
How to help with the university applications
I’ve had many parents ask me over the past two years: How can I help my child fulfil their dreams? I’m no expert in US or UK application strategy – so, what can I do to make a difference?
#1 Get involved
By this I mean do your research as to what these universities have to offer and what your child’s life would be like if they were successful in their admission ambitions for a world-leading university. Search websites, attend expos and check out rankings, locations, courses and faculties – whatever information will help you picture a university as somewhere your child would thrive.
#2 Be organised
Help your child organise their thoughts and their time – and the earlier you start planning, the better. Crimson were key to helping us with a personalised roadmap. As parents, you can also help by keeping track of your child’s school calendar. Look at exams and activities, as well as windows when they can simply unwind and relax.
#3 Support extracurricular pursuits
While academics are key, helping your child show who they are beyond a grade or an academic award is incredibly important to the US university application process. Once again, the Crimson extracurricular mentor guided my daughter carefully in this. So, for me, given that the expert advice portion was covered, that meant supporting where I could. Our family helped type out community reach flyers, played taxi drivers on group projects, stapled documents and simply provided enthusiasm and encouragement – whatever we could do to be part of her project support team.
#4 Visit campuses
Consider a trip to the US or UK (if time and circumstances allow!) to check out campuses as a family. As the old saying goes, there is nothing like actually “being there” when it comes to getting a true sense of what it would be like to live in a certain location. The world’s top universities have different personalities; even the eight Ivy League schools feel “different” when you walk onto their individual campuses. That’s why our campus visits helped narrow down my daughter’s top choices to a focused top two or three.
One thing we learnt is that this is a long and a complex road, but with Crimson’s support it all became manageable, and exciting, as my daughter checked off her to-do list and made progress along the way.
Should you be worried about your child’s safety while living overseas?
I suppose, as parents, it is our job to ‘worry’. But if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that these world-leading institutions go above and beyond when it comes to providing a safe, happy, health-conscious environment for their students.
They achieve this in a number of ways:
- Most universities have a centre, office or department dedicated to international students. These also act as bases for international student family communication. Princeton, for example, has the Davis International Center. It provides comprehensive advice and support to international students and their families.
- These universities plan ahead! Not long after my daughter was admitted, I received information on her calendar for the next four years! I’d never seen anything so organised! This enables us to plan her visits home during breaks and our visits to her in the US.
- As for safety, most of these institutions have exhaustive precautions and measures in place. They do not take their students’ safety or wellbeing lightly. On the contrary, the entire residential college system is based around inclusion, checks and balances and a comprehensive system of university police monitoring and safety measures. In other words, distance does not have to mean a compromise on safety.
My daughter’s new life as an international student has broadened all of our horizons. Having a child leave home for university can be an adjustment. There is no doubt parents and siblings grow with the experience too – with international destinations moving to the top of planned vacation lists!
Seeking out the experts
When my daughter expressed her US study interests, I quickly realised how little I actually knew. While I’d have loved to have supported my daughter in every aspect of her applications, I just didn’t have the expertise. And while my daughter went to an amazing school, the counsellor had scores of students to support in their university applications simultaneously.
One of the best things about Crimson? They always treated my daughter as an individual. They cared about who she was, where her interests lay, and her unique goals and ambitions. She was surrounded by a team of smart, caring people who knew everything about the application process. And they knew what sets successful students aside from the tens of thousands who may not ‘get in’.
From her essay mentor to her extracurricular supporter, her SAT tutor to her interview preparation advisor, everyone on my daughter’s team was dedicated, knowledgeable and understanding. Above and beyond all else was my daughter’s Crimson strategist who not only provided my daughter with a fantastic timeline and ‘game plan’ but also became her close mentor and friend — a friendship they maintain to this day.
Looking back to when my teenage daughter expressed a dream, and sitting here now, seeing how far she has come and the bright future that is in front of her, I’m grateful she had this dream in the first place, and that her supporters became part of our extended family.
A word from a Kimberly’s daughter
“Having your parents support you in your desire to study overseas is so important. The application process is incredibly complex and time consuming, and juggling your school timetable with application demands can be stressful. But when you have a family who is constantly offering encouragement and shares and champions your goals, the whole process becomes that much more doable and enjoyable.”
– Claudia Scott, Class of 2022
For more information, contact Crimson Education at 6909 2004 or visit crimsoneducation.org.
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