Applying last minute leaves little room to prepare for the academic rigor of the Oxbridge interview

– Rhea*, UC Berkeley

Two weeks is very little time to put together an application for any competitive university, but Rhea*, a student at a US boarding school took on the daunting task of applying to Cambridge University 14 days before the October 15th early UCAS deadline!

Rhea’s applications to US universities were already underway. The Red Pen helped her navigate the UK admissions process. Dedicated and hard working, Rhea completed the UCAS process and submitted her application to study Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge successfully.

When she received an invitation to interview with Cambridge, Rhea was excited. But, the interview did not reach a successful conclusion as she had hoped. Disappointing as the outcome was, Rhea realized that going through the process was a valuable experience and highlighted first-hand the differences between the interview process at Oxbridge and US colleges. US college admissions officers wanted to understand her personality, interests and fit for the institution, whereas her interview with Cambridge focused on knowledge of her chosen subjects and challenged her logical thinking skills.

Coming to the application process so late had left her very little time to prepare for such an academically rigorous interview, particularly in debating key issues. While she got an offer from the University of Edinburgh, Rhea chose to pursue her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley as she felt the broad and flexible curriculum options would be a better fit.

*Name changed per applicant’s request.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?