Liujia is a Chinese freshman studying actuarial science at The University of Hong Kong. Originally, Liujia’s plans were to apply to universities over in the US and UK but realised the university that would suit her best was at home. As a Crimson Tutor, Liujia strongly advises students to research universities in relation to the degree they wish to study, other than relying solely on the university rankings.
Read more about Liujia’s advice for high school students applying to top-ranked universities around the world and what she enjoys most about tutoring students studying the IB curriculum.
When you were in high school, did you ever think you would be studying at The University of Hong Kong (HKU)? If so, when did you start thinking of attending that university?
Not really, I was originally considering US and UK universities and did my application to HKU quite casually. It was when all the results came out that I started to think carefully and compare all my offers. I then found out that HKU is actually highly reputable for its actuarial science program and there are lots of opportunities for this industry in Hong Kong as well.
Was there a meaningful moment that made you feel you could attend a top ranked university?
Academically, it was when I started doing IB and found that my learning style really fits with the IB curriculum. In terms of extracurriculars, it was when, with the help of Crimson (I was once a Crimson client as well), I started to initiate quite a few amazing activities. I started to build up my confidence and learnt that leading and doing extracurriculars are actually fun and not that difficult. Combining these two, I felt that I could make successful university applications.
How did you choose HKU? What questions did you ask yourself?
I compared a lot of different factors; for example, the reputation of my major for that university, the location, and, of course, my future potential career opportunities. I also took into consideration the school culture and whether that fits with my personality or not?
What was the application process for HKU? How did you find the process?
The HKU application is quite an uncomplicated one compared with the UK and US universities. Applicants simply need to fill out several online forms regarding extracurriculars, awards, education history, your past scores and a single personal statement talking about why this major, why HKU and why Hong Kong. As I said above, I finished my HKU application really casually and that only took me two evenings.
What academic strengths or extracurricular activities do you feel helped you to secure an offer at HKU?
I initiated and led a series of activities with a common theme on Syrian refugees. I felt like these ones are probably quite outstanding and refreshing to the admission officers as they were carried out in innovative ways.
Are you involved in any initiatives/clubs/organisations at HKU?
Yes. I am now a leader of a social service program, offering free art lessons to the elderly in the local community. I am also the assistant producer for a drama production.
Why do you think it’s important for other students to step outside their comfort zone and attend a top ranked university?
More important than the education quality offered by a top ranked university is the people you meet there. You get to be surrounded by so many talented people who can inspire and amaze you all the time. It is in such environment that you can make the best out of yourself.
What do you love most about studying at your university?
Academically, the lectures are mostly small in size with lots of tutorials. This really fosters a more effective learning experience, as well as bringing me and my classmates together. There are also so many activities and seminars going on all the time, helping me grow into a more well-rounded person, as well as making my university life more rigorous and exciting.
How has studying at HKU provided you with unique opportunities?
In terms of my major, my university offered me a mentorship program in partnership with Sun Life (one of the largest insurance and finance companies). The mentorship really provides me with deep and clear insights into the industry and future careers even as a freshman student.
What made you want to become a tutor/mentor with Crimson?
I really love the IB curriculum and I think there are some simple tricks to successfully tackling IB assignments and exams. So, I am always keen to help others get the most out of their IB learnings and achieve their best score possible.
What do you love most about tutoring/mentoring students?
I very much enjoy the sense of satisfaction I get from tutoring, especially once I’ve successfully helped a student to understand and accomplish something like a maths formula. Also, it is a really fascinating process getting to know my students, who all come from different backgrounds and have interesting stories to share.
What advice do you have for current high school students considering their future study options?
This is a really important decision to make in your life because it can influence where and how you are going to spend (at least) the next four years, and possibly more. So, it is really important that you carefully consider every aspect of each university; location, specialities, other students, the lifestyle, etc. You should consider all these factors in relation with your own preference, dreams, living style and personality rather than just checking the rankings and other subjective indicators.
What would you like to do once you finish university?
I would like to get into the industry (actuarial science) and start working once I finish my bachelor degree, so I can gain practical experience and get a true feeling of whether I want to spend my life pursuing this career or not.
What achievements are you most proud of?
So far, I am quite proud of my university application results with offers from nine top universities like LSE. I am also proud of successfully initiating and leading several of my extracurriculars.
What do you do for fun?
I love watching and analyzing films on repeat. I like outdoor activities as well, especially those related with the sea.
What impact would you like to leave on the world?
I don't have any goals in terms of impacting the world so far. My aim now is to make my life a really unique and exciting one. I want to make everything I choose to do a meaningful one and go out to experience this stunning and diverse world as much as possible.