As a result of the ongoing external environment, this year’s overseas university applications have been full of challenges for new graduates. Nevertheless, graduates of Malvern College Chengdu have, as always, withstood the pressure and achieved remarkable results. To date, students have received a total of 187 unconditional, conditional offers, interview invitations, and writing invitations to top universities including University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, The University of Hong Kong, and The University of Warwick. In addition, students have also chosen highly valued subject majors, such as computer AI, medicine, and biomedicine-related majors.
So, what are students behind these stellar results like? What preparations have they made for university and for the pursuit of their dreams?
Graduate, Class of 2022, Malvern College Chengdu
Medicine at The University of Hong Kong,
Medicine at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology,
Medicine at St. George’s University.
“There are no right or wrong choices in life. Once decided, there should be no regrets for choices made at the moment.”
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has long been a dream university for Eric. When he was young, Eric had the opportunity to study as an exchange student in Hong Kong for a time, and from that moment on, he developed his budding aspiration to study at HKU.
When asked why he chose medicine, Eric, who has “the mind of a science student”, replied that there was no particular reason why, however, his firm and positive attitude made one feel that medicine was clearly an innate choice for him and that he was actually born to choose medicine. “What fascinates me most about medicine is that you are presented with a different challenge every day,” said Eric. “Finding a solution to different problems is something that is not only very challenging, but also very attractive for me.”
Being a doctor is considered a noble profession. However, in order to become a qualified doctor, one is required to have a large reserve of professional knowledge, rich clinical experience, good values, and to work hard.
What ultimately guides me is my interest
Eric once considered applying to study archaeology. However, as he advanced through the years, he experienced learning different subjects and thanks to the guidance of his teachers from the university counselling department, he gradually broadened his horizons. Through continuous exploration and study, he discovered his interest in, and the ability for, the medical field, and finally set his mind on a clear professional goal—Medicine.
Eric said that when he ultimately decided to study medicine his choice of major was entirely his own. His parents supported him in his choice of major and, from the very beginning, encouraged him to pursue a subject that he loved. They also assured him they would respect his decision regardless. Eric had ample time to think, experience and decide about his major and, when his family and friends learned that Eric wanted to apply for medicine, they were all very happy with his choice.
“Dr. Jill Cowie (Head of Malvern College Chengdu) and Mr Stephen White (Chemistry teacher) gave me a lot of support, Eric explained. When I showed my university application essay to Mr White, he helped me to edit it and I went through multiple rounds of discussions and reviews with Dr. Jill Cowie. A well-written essay is key to pursuing a top university and teachers from the university counselling department gave me a lot of advice and helped me to analyse university applications data. For example, they shared details of how many applicants there typically are, how many are interviewed and how many offers are usually made. Some universities in the United Kingdom place requirements on the proportion of international students admitted. For example, some admitted only 20 international students in a year. A lot of the data on university applications was not always readily available and therefore the university counselling department gave me a lot of very useful information and helped me to avoid unnecessary detours.”
Increased difficulty in application and breaking through the pressure of competition
Competition for medicine at HKU is tough and this year was no different. Recent data shows that each year HKU receives about 10,000 applications from Chinese mainland high school students and ultimately admits 300 students. This means the admission rate is about 3% p.a. In comparison, the domestic universities of Tsinghua University and Peking University each admit about 6,000 or 7,000 students a year, meaning the difficulty of applying to HKU far surpasses that of applying to Tsinghua University or Peking University and even for a coveted university like University of Cambridge, the admission rate stands at about 20%. Eric eventually received two conditional offer letters from HKU. He explained that the medical major at HKU has high requirements for both academic performance and extracurricular activities. Eric’s offer requires him to have four A*’s at A-Level and one language in addition to English. “When applying to medicine at HKU, I submitted my AS mathematics and biochemistry results and also the preliminary national college entrance exam results. The emphasis of the interview was on demonstrating my ability to respond on the spot and to assessing whether I possessed the values needed to become a doctor.”
Eric explained that when being interviewed, the interviewer asked many questions related to his values in life, or how he would resolve certain unexpected situations. “I found these questions were unconventional, which means the university assesses applicants against a very broad set of criteria and also tests their ability to respond on the spot and tests their comprehensive ability and calibre,” These skills are precisely aligned with the quality and philosophy of ‘whole-person’ education pursued by The Malvern Qualities.
Speaking about tips for application, Eric recalled that the reading in Chinese and English components of the UCAT exams was difficult and that the content covered a broad scope, including history, politics, logic, spatial thinking, and other subjects. It also required one to have a fast reading and comprehension ability. As for the BMAT exam, subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics were all included. Eric also said that finding either a mentor with a medical background or an experienced medical practitioner and engaging in more communication and interaction with them can provide invaluable guidance and help you make good judgements.
Life at Malvern
In terms of campus life, Eric had a fulfilling experience at Malvern College Chengdu. “I know many friends here and I got to know everyone quickly and that made me feel relaxed. The teachers also showed me a lot of care.” In his spare time, Eric had a variety of hobbies. He has played football and basketball since primary school and has enjoyed being on school teams and competing against other schools. He has also enjoyed music, has learned to play the piano, and is now learning to play the guitar. Learning different languages is also a special interest for him. For example, he has spent two years learning Spanish. What excites Eric most is the boarding school culture at Malvern, where houses organise Free Nights every Thursday and students take part in many different activities within their House. He chose to play football with friends every Thursday.
As the graduation season approaches, when asked what he would like to say to juniors at MCC, Eric said, “When applying for medicine, language requirements will be higher, and most medical schools will have high expectations on your results. You will need to be adequately prepared for this.”
In terms of balancing school and life, Eric said, “Play when it’s time to play, and study when it’s time to study.” As for the choice of major, he explained that there are no right or wrong choices in life. Once decided, there should be no regrets for the choices made at the moment.
Graduate, Class of 2022, Malvern College Chengdu
Conditional Offers received:
Biomedical Science at University College London,
Biomedical Science at The University of Bristol.
What changed for me moving to MCC?
Chloe came to MCC after feeling huge pressure at her former school. On the road to the national college entrance exams, it felt like an army of thousands crossing a single bridge. A difference of one point could make all the difference between being admitted to a college or not. In the intense study environment of the time, the pressure from school made Chloe and her family wonder whether there was more than one path to pursuing a top university? So, with the support of her parents, Chloe decided to study the education systems of several international schools. She wanted to see if this path was suited to her and it was this window of opportunity that made her knock on the door of Malvern College Chengdu.
After a period of adapting, she found herself gradually and unexpectedly improving and with a variety of options, she gradually regained her confidence. Rather than competing simply in terms of academic grades, she focused more on acquiring knowledge itself and found that thinking about problems and finding one or more different solutions to them became her favourite pastime.
When asked what the biggest difference between now and her past was, she explained that she feels she has a greater self-drive to learn pro-actively than before. “In the past, I would get anxious whenever I did not do well in an exam. Now, I am totally relaxed and I approach learning with a correct state of mind and have become much more motivated,” she explained.
“I enjoy conducting experiments. Here, I can experiment on my own or with friends and I can try any chemical experiment I wish.” This is also the reason why she became fascinated with chemistry and is what made chemistry go from her “last choice” to her “favourite”. Ultimately, she achieved an A*, which was an important factor in her successful application to biomedical science at The University College London.
In coming to Malvern, Chloe explained, “I feel very happy. I have greater motivation to study here and I know that now is the time to learn, so I work hard and resolving problems gives me a sense of accomplishment.” She feels that she now knows how to reflect on her growth as opposed to comparing herself to others. “Here, everyone can choose a different direction and everyone studies different subjects. There are no rankings, and we therefore have greater confidence and discipline to study.” Chloe said with a smile that sometimes in their spare time her classmates compared themselves in secret, for example by trying to see who took an extra night class for self-study, or who received a higher grade. However, every student had their direction in which they excelled and this is the kind of confidence that young students should have.
This year, Chloe successfully applied to study biomedical science at University College London and biomedical science at The University of Bristol and with the excellent academic results she is now ready to embark on her university life.
Never giving up on sparing time for hobbies
Outside of her studies, Chloe calls herself a social chameleon, referring to her confidence in social interactions and in how quickly she gets along with everyone. In her spare time, she likes to chat with her friends, dance hip-hop and exercise. She is a girl full of vitality who has a wide variety of interests and hobbies. She said, “I will never stop making time for hip-hop and I like to dance every weekend.”
Reason for studying genetics and biopharmaceuticals
As for her future direction, whether its studying biomedical science or conducting related research at university or thinking about her career progression after graduation, Chloe is inclined to focus on genetics and pharmaceuticals. She recalls that after falling ill as a child she underwent a long and costly period of treatment and this left a lasting impression on her. Therefore, Chloe aspires to study biomedical science as. “I want to study pharmaceuticals to reduce medicine prices so that more people can afford the cost of treatment.”
This reminds us of the line that one becomes more capable of empathizing with the pain of a patient after going through the suffering of illness and will repay society with a loving heart.
This is precisely aligned with the values of kindness, collaboration, curiosity, integrity, risk-taking, ambition, independence, open-mindedness, self-awareness, humility, and resilience to setbacks advocated by the qualities of Malvern. A Malvern education encourages every child to combine good character with innate talent to become the best version of themselves. We hope that every child can find their path, both in the present and in the future, so that they may shine, here and anywhere they may find themselves.