Most people think outwardly when they approach the university search and application processes. People start combing through university rankings and asking the advice of those they know for university recommendation choices. This is the wrong approach.
A thoughtful university search and application process begins and ends with self-reflection. What do I want to study? Where do I want to live? What opportunities do I want available to me? What do I want to communicate in my application about myself?
This academic year the University Advising Department has already hosted several workshops and panels that helped students and teachers reflect while completing their respective parts of admissions applications.
The Year 13 Application Workshop Day kicked off the University Advising Department’s curriculum for the Autumn Term. The entire graduating class gathered in Parsons Hall to continue the application work started in Year 12. They reflected on their past experiences as they wrote curricula vitae. They reflected on themselves and the university programmes they have researched as they wrote supplemental essays for their American applications and personal statements for their UK applications. Plus, they reflected on the selectivity of American universities as they pretended to be admissions officers reviewing fictional applications that the University Advisors created for them as a teaching tool.
The International Baccalaureate teachers also reflected on their Year 13 students. Early in the term, the University Advising Department educated them on best practices for writing recommendation letters for their students. They reflected on their students’ strengths and learned how to make those strengths stand out in their letters.
Then Year 13 students were brought together again for a session on self-representation. Joined by Aiglon alumni who have experience interviewing students for university admission, they learned how to reflect on what their speech, writing, and dress communicate to the outside world.
Thanks to the Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement Office, Aiglon alumni also virtually visited with Senior School students to reflect on their university and career journeys. In one presentation, two alumni shared their respective stories of opening an art gallery in London and launching a fashion line. In another presentation, accomplished physicians and a current university student discussed their work in the medical profession. One alumnus is a plastic surgeon in New York City, another is the Chief Medical Officer for Great Britain’s Olympic Team, and another is a current student in the biomedical science course at King’s College London.
Applying to university is not for the faint of heart. There are many forms and essays to complete, and there are recommendation letters to request. And there is a lot of competition to try to outshine. This is why Aiglon’s University Advising Department starts working with students early, as early as Year 10, to help them to consider what they want in their post-Aiglon lives and how they will achieve those goals.
Self-reflection takes time and continues all the way through the crafting of applications. By reflecting on themselves, they hopefully find the best “fit” university, meaning they enrol at a university where they can thrive.
About Elizabeth Downing
Beth is an Associate Director in Aiglon’s University Advising Department. She joined Aiglon in January 2021 after sixteen years within the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Admissions. Beth has evaluated over 20,000 university applications, recruited students globally, and spoken at international forums on higher education and admissions. She enjoys working with Aiglon students and exploring the natural beauty of Switzerland with her pup, Jack.