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On Cultural Gaps: some thoughts before Hermiona's Kiev workshop on February 21st, 2019

After Hermiona’s Moscow event on February 9, I got to thinking about the major cultural differences between the US and much of the rest of the world when it comes to applying to university. As someone who’s lived and been educated in both Russia and the US, I often take these things for granted — but I realize that they aren’t be so clear to some. There are five major differences that I’d like to share with you today, so that you can be better prepared to “bridge the cultural gap.”

1. It’s not all about your grades and test scores. In much of the world, acceptance to university is primarily dependent on those two things — but in the US, grades and tests are just the beginning! Remember that at elite schools, everyone is academically exceptional — so you will need to distinguish yourself in other ways be it through your dedication to tennis, fifteen-year-long career in violin playing, or love of learning languages.

2. And on that note… spend time thinking about how you can strengthen your overall portfolio. What can you do to highlight your dedication to tennis? How can you demonstrate that playing violin means the world to you? How can you prove that you actually know the languages you say you’ve taught yourself? For one, find people who can attest to these achievements in their letters of recommendation. But also find opportunities to participate in activities and competitions (e.g. music competitions or galas, AP language tests, tennis tournaments) where you can prove your mastery of the subject/pursuit to yourself — and the admissions committee!

3. Spend your summer with a purpose! It’s tempting to spend your summer at home — but there’s so much out there to explore! Hundreds of American boarding schools and universities offer top-notch educational programs over the summer. I know, you don’t want to spend your summer in school … but it’s really not like that. You get to focus on a topic you enjoy, in addition to enjoying recreational activities and time with friends. You’ll get a feel for what you might want to study in university — and for life on a boarding school/college campus. (Not to mention that this can really help build your overall portfolio, as in point 2.)

4. Surround yourself with people who know the system. The process is long and complicated, so you’ll need people who know it inside and out — and are able to bridge these cultural gaps before they even arise! Hermiona has a team of outstanding mentors and consultants who have all lived and studied abroad: they know the drill. And they’ll make sure you know it, too!

5. You failed once — so try again! In many countries — notably those where acceptance to college is based on test scores — you can only take the test once in a lifetime, or maybe once a year. That’s not the case in the US! You can take the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, TOEFL, and ACT as many times as you would like, and you should take advantage of that. See it as an opportunity to learn what your weak spots are and improve on them for the next time. This rule applies not only tests, but to the entire college application process: if you’re rejected from anything — anywhere! — take it as an opportunity to determine what your weak spots are.

If any of these topics were interesting to you, come to our event in Kiev on February 21 from 6:30-9:30 PM at Creative Quarter -- Creative Quarter, БЦ Gulliver, Спортивная площадь, 11th floor, 1А. ( I’ll be joined by Andrew Prihodko, a serial entrepreneur, graduate of both Harvard and MIT, and mentor at Hermiona Education; Nargiz Asadova, the CEO of CrushPro, an education start-up, lecturer at the Higher School of Economics, and a former radio host on the “Echo of Moscow”; and an illustrious moderator, Mikhail Kotov, the former editor of Forbes Ukraine). Learn more about our speakers once you’ve registered! Space is limited, so register now!



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