At 99 degrees, water is hot. At 100 degrees, it changes to steam, which can power an engine. That one extra degree makes all the difference between something that’s simply hot and something that can move mountains. That extra step, that differentiating factor is key at every step, whether in school, college or even in the workplace.
Differentiating yourself from your peers is especially important when it comes to university admissions. Apart from high school grades, admissions officers (AOs) want to know what life experiences you have acquired, what motivates you and what sets you apart. They are looking for a complete student, someone who will succeed in academics and beyond. They also want to assess your potential as a graduate of their college. Are you someone who could become a CEO? Win the Nobel Prize? Become a Prime Minister? AOs use your extracurricular activities, application essays and letters of recommendation to judge your focus and future potential.
One way to show that you have taken initiative and gone beyond what is required by your school curriculum is to learn a new language, explore a different subject or skill or even work on a research paper. Scholarly, an EdTech company, helps high school students to write a research paper under the guidance of a university professor. Upon successful completion, students get college credits, while high-quality papers–endorsed by the professor–may also be published.
As a high school student, you are pressed for time. Whether you are studying for the IIT entrance exam, the NEET or even preparing your applications to competitive colleges in the US, UK, Australia or Canada, there is only so much you can do given the limited number of hours, days, or months you have. Therefore it is crucial for students (and parents) to make sure that students spend time on the most relevant activities. In this context, the summer months after grades 10 and 11 are especially important. High school students can utilise their summers in several ways, by attending workshops, participating in social projects, receiving coaching in their weak subjects or attending summer camps.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to several constraints in working in proximity with others. While the situation will improve with the vaccination, there are still several months (or maybe years) before things can return to normal. This has limited the options available to students to participate in extracurricular activities and develop their profiles.
Scholarly recognised this problem and started offering college credit courses from US universities to international students in the comfort and safety of their homes. Classes are conducted from special studios on the university campus and by full-time professors. These are live interactive classes providing three-way interaction between the student, the professor, and other students. Courses are based on the actual college curriculum and lead to college credits.
Speaking about his experience with Scholarly, Mehul Jangir, who studied Foundations of Astronomy in the summer of 2020 says, “My favourite subjects are computer science, astrophysics and mathematics. Astrophysics or astronomy courses are normally available only in college. In the summer of 2020, I enrolled for a credit course, Foundations of Astronomy, with Scholarly. The course was conducted by Professor Jamie Lombardi who is a renowned professor in this field. The classes were well structured and covered the big bang theory, gravity, celestial timekeeping, orbits, light, the birth and evolution of stars, black holes and other compact objects, dark matter and dark energy. As a part of the coursework, I also wrote a research paper that was endorsed by the professor and subsequently published. I scored highly in the course and Professor Lombardi has become my mentor. Scholarly’s course provided me with substantial learning as well as first-hand experience of undergraduate studies in the US. Enrolling in an actual college course while still in high school has helped me better understand the expectations from students, the pace of study and how to engage with the professors. The overall experience has helped improve my college readiness. I would recommend the credit courses to students who are interested in learning and going the extra mile to differentiate themselves.” Mehul has been admitted to the California Institute of Technology and will be studying Computer Science starting in Fall 2021.
Indicative Course Catalogue for Summer 2021
Scholarly’s live online college credit courses and research papers provide several benefits to students seeking differentiation and additional learning. It helps students to:
- Demonstrate their college readiness, ability to follow college-level classes and meet the professor’s expectations
- Express their focus and interest in the subjects of their choice to help make informed decisions about what they would like to study in college
- Get a taste of US college education and classes while still in grade 11 or 12. Certain subjects (for example Foundations of Astronomy or Cognitive Psychology) may not be available at all in high school
- Display their ability to work with university professors on research papers or independent study projects. High-quality papers that are endorsed by the professors may also be published
- Earn transferrable college credits that are recognised across the US
In our experience, college credit courses and research papers provide a meaningful avenue for students to learn new subjects and strengthen their profiles. The summers provide a generous amount of time that can be invested in suitable activities. We are confident that students will benefit from this time to create the differentiation they need for success.
Vivek Bhandari is the Chief Executive and Co-founder of Scholarly. He holds a B.Tech from IIT Delhi and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. Vivek has worked extensively in the financial services, real estate and mortgage space in the US, Europe and India. He is passionate about education and the use of innovative technologies to make the best education accessible across the globe.