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Welcome to The University Admissions Newsletter.

Developing Interests

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

Hi, Sunny here.

For 11 years, I have helped students build their CVs and get into some of the best universities in the UK and America such as Oxford, Stanford, and Yale. You can sign up here to receive my newsletter on CV-building activities alongside tips and insights on how to succeed in the admissions process. I am also on Twitter and Instagram. And if you want professional help with university admissions, our company website is here.

One of the things that I am often asked about is how students should develop interests. Note that this is not about how to demonstrate interest- we have plenty of guides for that. A lot of students might know how to illustrate interest via reading or summer schools. But this can be done regardless of whether the student is interested in a given subject or not. Here is a guide for parents who are trying to help their children work out what they are interested in. If students are applying to university this year, this is what I would recommend they do.

Understand the stakes.

A lot of students find subjects far more interesting if they understand the stakes behind the subject. In other words, they should spend some time thinking about why the subject is so important, the key questions that the subject looks at, and the consequences of finding solutions to these problems. For example, you could say that if we did not try to understand how history works, we will not have a clear sense of what to do in the future, and how society became the way it is. You can then ask follow-up questions on this that highlight these core issues further.

Make use of modern media.

Instead of having your child sit down and go "I will now formally start looking into subjects" encourage them to add some prominent people in the field to their social media accounts. "Best Economics TikTok accounts to follow" is the only Google search you need. Once they have a list, they can follow these people, so some of their aimless scrolling will start to have an aim. On top of this, the algorithm will feed them more content, so they learn more subtly and consistently.

A concise introduction.

There is a famous series of books called "A Very Short Introduction". They are published by Oxford University Press. Each book does exactly what it says in the title. An expert takes you through the big ideas and topics in the subject in a way that is accessible to people who have never read about the subject before. The books are mandated to be under 200 pages, so they could be read over the space of a weekend. Encourage your child to pick up a few of these and read 20 pages a day. The amount of knowledge they could acquire is staggering.

Reach out to experts and teachers.

For students who are bolder, I would recommend using places like LinkedIn and talking to teachers about what their subjects will entail. They can have a more frank conversation that is tailored to the needs of your child. They might even get additional tips for applying.

Understand what will be asked of them at university.

A lot of subjects might sound very interesting at first, but then students fail to understand what the day-to-day life of the subject would entail—hours of reading, coding, performing proofs, designing experiments etc. Students should look at what they should actually do. Research can help a lot with this, but talking to people who study the subject is a much better idea.

These are just some of the ways that students can develop their interests well before their application. I always think that students who have a clear interest in a subject are more motivated, create better-quality applications and achieve better grades. So taking these steps now can eliminate difficulty down the road.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, I would really appreciate it if you would forward this email to your friends and colleagues. And if you have been forwarded this email, you can sign up here to receive my newsletter every 2 weeks. As ever, if you have any questions about university applications or CV building, just reply to this email.

Have a great Wednesday!

Deadline countdown (Sep '23 intake):

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Welcome to The University Admissions Newsletter.

My name is Sunny Jain and over the past 11 years I've been helping students get into the top universities in the UK and US.

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