At high school, Michael Tai was involved in many different extracurricular activities, often revolving around the health and wellbeing. His time at high school strongly influenced him, and currently, Michael Tai is studying Medicine at the University of Oxford, England. Michael continues to fill his time by involving himself in an impressive list of different organisations and extracurricular activities.
Michael recently chatted with Crimson to talk about why he chose Oxford, what he loves most about Oxford and to offer some sage advice to students about to embark on their journey beyond secondary school. Read below.
When you were in high school, did you ever think you would be studying at the University of Oxford?
I always had Oxbridge as a goal in the back of my mind, but I was also aware of the difficulty of getting in, so I tried to not get my hopes up.
Was there a meaningful moment that made you feel you could attend a top ranked university?
Oxford and Cambridge held an information event in my home city (Edinburgh) and included presentations from the head of admissions for medicine from both universities. Watching their presentations brought home the reality that Oxford and Cambridge are just universities, albeit very good ones, and that I could definitely apply.
How did you choose the University of Oxford? What questions did you ask yourself?
I used national university ranking tables for Medicine from The Guardian, aside from general reputation, which I already knew, I looked especially at the student satisfaction rates. On noting that, I realised Oxford has a much higher medical student satisfaction rating than Cambridge; and so, I chose Oxford over Cambridge.
What extracurricular activities do you feel helped you through the application process?
I was involved in a range of extracurriculars during high school including: First Saxophone - various city wide and school bands and taekwondo. I was also head of house in school and a youth representative in several government initiatives (Youngscot). I was also involved in lots of volunteering experience at hospices, nursing homes and hospitals.
Are you involved in any initiatives/clubs/organisations at university?
I am involved in many different organisations including: President - Oxford Psychiatric Society, former Campus Chairperson - Global Brigades, Oxford Chapter (largest student led development organisation in the world), Secretary - Oxford University Buddhist Society, founder - St Catherine's College Mindfulness and Meditation Society, MCR Welfare Rep, College Peer supporter, former Nightline (telephone call in support service) volunteer and trainer.
Why do you think it’s important for other students to step outside their comfort zone and attend a top ranked university?
You don't know what you do not know. Attending a top ranked university brings you exposure to the people and ideas that are shaping the future and broadens your horizons immensely. Being surrounded by other capable, ambitious people also helps to raise your own standards of what a successful life is and what you expect of your own life.
How has studying at the University of Oxford provided you with unique opportunities?
The small size of Oxford medical school means that you have a lot of support. People know who you are and it is possible to connect with quite senior people more easily. Oxford also has a lot of financial assistance for their students, both in terms of bursaries and scholarships and in the form of support for student led societies.
What made you want to become a tutor/mentor with Crimson?
After getting into Oxford, I was aware that I now knew a lot about the application system to UK universities. I wanted to use this knowledge to help other high school students navigate this process.
What do you love most about tutoring/mentoring students?
Seeing my students develop in their confidence and ability; be it in interviews or admission tests.
What advice do you have for current high school students considering their future study options?
Expose yourself to as many new ideas and fields as you can before making a choice. It is a big task to be choosing your future life path at 16 or 17 and the best way to protect yourself is to gain as much information as possible.
What would you like to do once you finish university?
Firstly, complete my psychiatry training; concurrently, I'd also like to start publishing and designing new treatments for conditions such a depression - the largest cause of disease in developed countries.
What achievements are you most proud of?
Coming 1st place in a national psychiatry essay competition held by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.