In this Student Spotlight, Urban Family spoke with Karis Tai, Year 12, of Concordia International School (pictured left) and Nils Voegtli, Year 13, of British International School Shanghai Puxi (pictured right).
Both new graduates this spring, Karis and Nils tell Urban Family about their experiences applying for college and moving on to their next adventure.
What are your plans after graduation?
Karis: I have been admitted to Harvard's class of 2020. I plan to pursue a social science program and am considering sociology, economics and political science.
Nils: I plan to study economics and mathematics at the University of Edinburgh.
What was the most difficult part about choosing your next steps and university?
Karis: I initially considered taking a gap year for a project in rural China, but finally decided to start college in the hopes that four more years of education and experience might better equip me to pursue humanitarian projects at a more effective level post-college.
Nils: Coping with the wait period for universities to reply was most difficult. Also knowing that this is your future makes it very nerve-wracking at times.
What did you look for most in a university when applying?
Karis: I was looking for a stimulating environment, intellectually curious atmosphere and a diverse arena of backgrounds and perspectives. But these days, the majority of universities offer all of this, so the truth is, we (as students)are more worried about whether the university will see anything in us than whether we see anything in the university.
Nils: Definitely course content. It’s important to know whether or not the course is suitable for me.
How has your time in Shanghai prepare you for college?
Karis: My time in China has opened my eyes up to a new world of cultural and socioeconomic diversity. It has prepared me to lay aside narrow personal frameworks and explore new ideas and perspectives in college.
Nils: I was able to live in one of the most economically developed cities in the world and experience the growth of China firsthand as well.
Was it important for you to go abroad for university?
Karis: Yes. I mainly considered programs in the United States, but did look at a joint program between Yale and the National University of Singapore located in Singapore.
Nils: Yes, it was important as I wanted to attend one of the top universities. I targeted schools in Switzerland and the UK.
Did you feel stressed or pressured in the process of choosing your school?
Karis: Saying I felt stressed would be an understatement. I'm not sure I have ever successfully "dealt" with the stress (mostly I just got through it), but I constantly reminded myself that this was the beginning of a journey, not the end. Overall, my parents and teachers were pivotal in reminding me of that.
Nils: I felt pressured when it came to deadlines and deciding when was the perfect time to apply. I coped with it by talking to the higher education [counseling] department and by doing my own research.
How do you think it will feel come graduation and you are officially done with high school?
Karis: As seniors, we spend most of the year freaking out about the next phase of our lives and sometimes forget to fully live this one to its fullest. Now that graduation is upon us, it's hard to believe that high school is over; this all feels surreal.
Nils: Very happy as the IB program was one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life.