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Here is how to ruin your child’s chances to go to a good university

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It is a provocative title, I know. But before I get into this topic, I would like to briefly talk about a great 2-day event that is coming up for high school students interested in STEM:

​World of Chances: This event is organised with high-school students in mind. During the two days learn from experts in the field and network with people from all around the world. Deep dive into topics such as admissions to the world’s leading universities, learn about the gender barrier in tech, explore unconventional careers and latest breakthroughs in STEM. For a more one-on-one experience visit dozens of non-profits and organisations in breakout rooms and learn more about their mission while expanding your network.

Now, back to the topic at hand:

A lot of parents who want their kids to do as well as possible often make decisions that directly harm their child’s chances. Here is a list of things that are almost a surefire way of reducing your child’s chance of going to a good university.

Making them take up EVERY opportunity
Whilst students need to have a diverse and strong set of activities under their belt, making your child take on every opportunity that comes their way, or actively seeking additional opportunities on their behalf, is a bad idea. Admissions officers are very aware of the “throw spaghetti and see what sticks” approach. It looks like the student has actively not put care into what they are doing. Your child does not need to be a superstar in everything. Instead, they should pick a smaller range of things to focus on. There will not be enough space in their statements to talk about dozens of activities, so there is no advantage in saying yes to everything. One final note on this. If your child does a lot of activities, it is likely that a lot of them will be paid for. This is not a good look, as it would imply that the family is just paying, rather than your child exploring their interests. 3-4 activities per term is a good rule of thumb.

Not accepting more niche courses
A lot of parents scoff at certain subjects, such as Sociology, Criminology or Middle Eastern studies. But this is a bad idea. There are quite a few reasons for this. Firstly, a lot of those courses have DRAMATICALLY higher acceptance rates and in many instances, they also have lower grade requirements. So it could give your child the edge. Secondly, these courses are designed to give people expertise in a more niche subject without them having to do a master’s. To be clear, this is not a replacement for a master’s course, but it can give them an edge in the job market because they will know more than their peers. Speaking of jobs, another advantage of studying a subject like this is that having expertise from a strong university is what the job market is looking for. If you have a great university name under your belt, then the degree does not matter as much. Finally, if your child is passionate about these courses, then this will increase their chances. Doing a more niche subject also allows for a (slightly!) easier route into academia.

Overworking them
One of the biggest things that parents don’t always understand is the following: Rest is a form of revision. Pushing your child to work every hour of the day could lead to long-term burnout. This could cost your child. A lot. So make sure they are getting adequate rest, and also that they have time to do things that make them happy.

Exploiting connections
A lot of people who have connections think that they should use them to their fullest. In the modern day, this sort of thing can be more of a hindrance than a help. As universities focus more on equality, leaning on personal family connections is a sign of a lack of effort. Many students do not have access to some of these opportunities, and it is clear when an opportunity a student has been given is too good to be true. Focus on helping your child find opportunities that require them to apply/ put in effort.

Deadline countdown:

MBA and Postgraduate (Sep ’24) – 01 December 2023
USA Regular Decision (Sep ’24)- 01 January 2024
UK Undergraduate (Sep ’24) – 25 January 2024

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