Learning from our Graduates

Every year, BWYA’s graduating students make big steps, heading towards a bright future. Behind them, along with excellent results, they also leave their wisdom, refined by the test of time. 

We invited a few Class of 2019 graduates to share their wisdom with us, as those who have already successfully navigated the joys and hardships of secondary school.

Graduate Introductions

What they had to say...

Q: Is there any advice you wish you had before starting secondary school?

Brian Han: Become a diligent student as early as you can. All of your grades from Grade 9 to 12 do matter when you apply to universities and you never want any of them to become an obstacle. You should work hard to improve your grades when you have the chance to!

Sophie He: If you have a hobby that you love, you should look for related extra-curricular activities. DP is not that stressful, do not be too intimidated and anxious. When you choose your courses, you will benefit more from choosing challenging courses.

Caitlin Du: When starting the DP course, it’s important to not get too ambitious. Before you actually get into the DP course you should start thinking about what you want to do in the future, and which university you want to go to. Then you shouldn’t choose courses that are not necessary for you applying to university, because the DP curriculum is really hard. There’s EE, TOK, and CAS, and a lot of things that can drive you crazy, so it’s important to evaluate your own skill, don’t get ambitious.

Q: With the university application season again upon us, do you have any advice on how to choose a university and major?

Brian Han: Before choosing your major and university, please think about your personal preferences. Think about what you enjoy learning the most and what kind of a person you want to become in the future. Above all, be aware that you are making a decision solely for yourself. It is your life and you should not be affected by what other people say. Do ask your parents and teachers for advice, but do not let their words dominate over your own thoughts.

Caitlin Du: The important part of the university application process is you have to show your personality. I believe the admissions officers will prefer someone with personality, rather than someone who is the image of an ‘ideal’ student. Also when choosing university, you shouldn’t focus only on your dream school. It’s important to explore a range of schools that are suitable. Write down your ‘reach school’, and you ‘safety school’. You can apply to a lot, so just go wild.

Flora Tian: I chose a major based on my values and passions, which involve seeking social safety nets for marginalized or underprivileged communities across the world. When choosing a major, it is important to recognize your interests in the academic disciplines and the potential opportunities that a major can offer in your future endeavors.

In a similar way, I also chose a university that recognizes my values and passions, while providing me with endless learning opportunities that allow for my personal growth in all areas. I would recommend everyone to choose a university that really speaks to you and stands out to accommodate all your interests and needs.

Do not choose a university from US or Canada simply because everyone else is going there. There are plenty of other top tier universities that you might adore.

Sophie He: Make sure you understand the major – read a chapter of the textbook, watch online lectures, go to a university to listen to the course. Sometimes the major can differ from your impression of it.

Q: What advice would you give to students about the application process?

Brian Han: Only apply to universities where you actually hope to attend. Applying to 30 universities without filtering out those that you would not go to (even if you do get accepted) is not a good idea because it wastes a lot of precious time that you could have used to work on the documents for the universities that you actually want to attend.

Flora Tian: As our school’s motto says, it is important to stay true to yourself. To me, the college application process is a path of personal growth that instills maturity and resilience in me, and it is truly a life-experience that is very valuable to us. To all the future applicants, think of the application process as a platform to express yourself and your passions. Don’t stress too much over the logistics, stay in a positive mindset and know that the best is yet to come.

Q: How did BWYA help you to explore your different abilities, both academic, and creative?

Flora Tian: BWYA has provided me endless opportunities to explore my interests and skills, from the diverse range of coursework in the IB programme to a myriad of extracurricular activities and clubs. I was able to fully explore my interests in politics and public speaking skills through the Forensics and Model United Nations club, and host fundraisers such as a concert with our philanthropic efforts. I would recommend all students to take advantage of the resources provided in BWYA to fully explore their interests and abilities, academically or creatively.

Sophie He: The Forensics club introduced me to many acting and debate opportunities where I had fun while exploring my academic interests in debate topics. Mr. Moore would often offer us intriguing extended readings and initiate intellectual conversations, which was very constructive.

Linda Zhang: Every year, the tenth grade organises the High School musical. This had a big influence on my choice to study Communications. At the time, I found it very interesting producing a documentary about the musical, covering pre-production, script writing, mid-term rehearsals, along with the shooting and editing process.

Q: How has BWYA prepared you to continue to develop in the future? 

Flora Tian: BWYA has been a stepping-stone to my college career, from encouraging me to take advantage of learning opportunities and hold myself accountable for my personal growth, to allowing me to forge relationships with my peers, teachers and challenge myself in all areas and disciplines. BWYA has been not only a mentor to me, but a place that I can call home for the past 4 years.

Brian Han: One life-lesson that BWYA taught me is that no matter what the problem is, there is always a way to overcome it. Undoubtedly, I encountered quite a lot of challenges when I was studying in BWYA. For example, I spent a few days just to research the topic I chose for my Physics internal assessment, but was still not able to discover useful resources. Consequently, I decided to visit the school library and sought for an answer in books. Receiving help from the librarian, I was able to find 2-3 books that contained insightful information for my report.

Furthermore, I visited my Physics teacher, Ms. Sandy, for help. Ms. Sandy provided me a list of websites that I could explore and some relevant keywords that I could research about, which I later found to be extremely useful to my report. These problem-solving skills that I developed in BWYA, allowing me to flexibly seek for alternative solutions whenever a problem emerges, will be an asset that will help me even more in the future.

This article is an excerpt, the full content will be available in the next edition of BWYA’s magazine Howls.