Ronen Oosthuizen gives us a reflection on his first year at Rice University, and on what makes Rice such a special place to study and compete at.
I remember my first day in Houston very clearly. It was hot, humid, and I was hungry after the long flight in from SA. However, my destination for the weekend was not the campus. Before the regular freshman program started, I had arrived at the Hilton Hotel a few minutes from campus for an “international student preparatory program” that offered all the international freshmen the chance to be “as prepared as any usual American student would have been.”
This is one of the many areas where William Marsh Rice University, located in the heart of the Medical Center of Houston, Texas, exceeded my expectations for college. From day one, Rice seeks to help its students develop, maintain, and grow their relationships and networks for the future. This process continues through their college experience and forever after. Coming in as an international student definitely came with its challenges, like missing home. However, I can say with utmost confidence that Rice has given me a home away from home.
I made friends within my residential college (basically a “koshuis” - but not a standard dorm), that I can see myself laughing with for decades to come. The same goes for friends I have made in the other 10 colleges located on campus. The track team has been a particular home for me. As a student-athlete, I have had the chance to meet some of the most versatile people imaginable when it comes to combining a competitive sport with an academically challenging major. I am proud to call these people my friends. And the great thing is that Rice provides an atmosphere where it is possible to be a great athlete and an even better student.
To borrow the words of our track team’s ex-captain, “we go out and compete with some of the greatest athletes in the world, then we come back home to study along with some of the greatest minds in the world.”
I’ll leave you with this: even with its reputation as one of the top colleges in the United States, Rice would be nothing if not for the special relationships and bonds that its students get to share, starting at college and stretching far beyond into the future.
The time is always right to start your scholarship-winning journey. Sign up for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts, and we can help make your dream school a reality today!
College Essays: A Chance To Tell Your Own Story, In Your Own Words
The college essay is a unique part of the application process. It is a piece of writing that could potentially change your life - which should motivate you to want to write as well as possible! Colleges across the USA receive thousands of admission essays every year, and it is an overwhelming job for the admissions officers to read all of them. If you can write a powerful essay that is captivating, descriptive and emotionally engaging for the reader, you will stand out from the crowd.
But how do you write a knockout essay? What can you do to establish yourself as someone the university wants to welcome into its student body? We've got some tips for you to look at before you start writing, and these ideas will help you craft the perfect college essay - one that can get you into the university of your dreams.
1. What Matters To You?
The most important thing is to write something that impacts you - not something that you think the admissions office will like. You need to reflect on how the experience changed you - simply recounting it is something anyone can do. Talk about how it played out in your life, and what you learned from it. In a similar way, ditch the thesaurus and aim instead for a sophisticated piece that vividly displays the ideas you feel are most important to the story.
2. No Repeats
The essay should not contradict what is contained in the rest of your application - whether that is marks, extracurriculars, achievements, or even recommendations from teachers or peers. Nor should it repeat anything already in your application - the essay is not a space to list your awards. Rather, use the space to talk about something that makes you unique - the essay should tell the most important story about you that the rest of your application cannot.
3. Start Early and Write Several Drafts
With something this important, it's crucial to spend enough time thinking about it and making sure you've put the best version of the story down. Start with a brainstorm - put down topics and points you can write about, and the ideas you want to convey. After you've written a first draft, set it aside for a couple of days, and then read it again. Try to put yourself in the place of the admissions officers who will be reading it. Does it reveal something about you? Is it clear in its intent and purpose? Does it actually answer the prompt you were given?
4. Have Someone Check Your Essay
It is always best to get other peoples' eyes on your essay. Outside perspective is most helpful when trying to ensure your essay flows logically, and your points are clear and well-made. For this, a teacher or adult is your best bet - but if you have willing friends and family members, that's great too. Make sure to get everyone to check your grammar and sentence structure - and remember to be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Taking other peoples' thoughts on board is one of the best ways to improve a piece of writing - just make sure not to edit your own perspective out of it!
5. Read the Success Stories
You can find tons of successful college essays online - sit down and read ones that have gotten people into their dream schools. You'll probably be at least a little bit surprised by their content - they are pieces of people, not award-winning novels. You want your story to be the one the admissions committee can't put down. Once you find a topic that you care about, writing the essay should come easily - it should come from a place of passion.
College essays shouldn't be overwhelming. Like all good things in life, you need to dedicate time to it. Remember, admissions officers want to get to know who you are, so don't think you should focus on what's already been told.
“No one can tell your story, so tell it yourself. No one can write your story, so write it yourself.”
To all students: we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming application essays. Good luck!
It is always the right time to start your journey to winning a Sports Scholarship to a USA University. Sign up for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts today!
Why do you want to study abroad? You can ask many students why they have chosen to go overseas for their tertiary education, and you will receive various different answers. Students study overseas to improve their academic opportunities, see what life is like in a different place, further their sports, and chase their dreams; but the biggest take away that a student will receive is experiential learning. Leaving home and studying in the USA will challenge you in so many ways, but you will be able to dive into adventures you thought weren’t possible - and if you follow your heart, you will come across plenty of opportunities and once in a lifetime moments that you will be unable to experience anywhere else.
Below, we have 10 of the best reasons to study in the USA. Covering a wide range of ideas and subjects, these reasons could inspire you to start your journey to studying in the USA today!
1. Develop your independence
Leaving home and all the familiar comforts of your family and friends is terrifying, but it is a necessary step in becoming independent. Developing into an independent young adult is not easy, and your personal growth is not going to be the same if you had to stay at home while completing your studies. Once you settle in at your college and you feel more at ease, you are able to experience a whole new level of independence and freedom, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
2. Gain insight into other cultures
Going on holiday with family or friends is some of the best memories you can make and you experience the best things the country or town has to offer, but living and studying in another country gives you a new perspective on the people and culture around you. Embrace the differences and become globally aware of different cultures and practices in your new environment. Find out your favourite place to have your Latte or heartwarming meal in the icy winter.
3. Fascinating foods
The States has many different cooking traditions and styles, which can change from state to state. Don’t be afraid to try the different cuisines to see which ones tickle your taste buds. Whether it's Philly Cheesesteak when you are in Philadelphia, the famous Clam Chowder in Boston, Chicago's deep dish pizza or Tex-Mex and Cajun food in the South, there is a new and tasty flavour around every corner. But if strange looking soups, cheesy steaks, and spicy tomatoes aren’t up your alley, one thing you can always rely on is some turkey over Thanksgiving.
4. Academic Flexibility
Studying in America offers students so much flexibility within your courses; you are able to take a variety of classes, find out what you are passionate about and only then decide on your major at the end of your second year of studies. Many young students are not sure what to pursue when beginning college, but having the time and freedom to explore is monumental in personal development and deeply impacts how much you enjoy your college career.
5. Improve Your CV
Studying for and earning an international degree is going to be a big differentiating benefit for you. While you are picking up and learning new cultures, skills and techniques, this will provide you with an advantage over your peers when applying for jobs. A degree from an international institution makes you stand out from any crowd and can help you land those exclusive interviews for jobs you are really interested in.
6. International Network
Colleges have many different people from a range of countries, and surrounding yourself with a variety of individuals from different cultures and places could be a massive asset for you. Having a global network has never been more useful, with digital technology making business accessible to people from all over the world, at any time. Your roommate could be the catalyst for your own business or just a fantastic friend you need as a sounding board for a work issue.
7. Scholarships and Financial Aid
Studying overseas seems impossible with the current exchange rate - and the tuition and other fees in the USA can be overwhelming - but colleges have amazing scholarships and financial aid packages for all types of students. Here at Aspire Atlantic, we focus on sports scholarships, but students can receive funding for their academics, culturals, their leadership skills, and even just for being an international student. These scholarships make the process of studying overseas a reality and it is a major factor in the decision to go to a university abroad for many families.
8. Discover Who You Are
Many students leave high school feeling a little unsure about the future. Some students may have been at the same school for 12 years, and that feeling of security, familiarity, and comfort is something we take for granted - thinking about leaving this environment can be scary. Most of us ask ourselves who we are or what we want to do at the end of school, as a natural part of discovering the world around us and figuring out who we want to become. But don’t worry! You don’t need the answers right away. And what better way to discover what you love and want to accomplish than going out of your comfort zone and exploring new adventures overseas?
9. Amazing Friendships
Having travelled my fair share around the globe, I can safely say that the friendliest people I have ever met are people from the USA. While not everyone you meet will be at your wedding, you will certainly meet some great personalities that will remain close friends with you for years to come. Social media and video calls have made staying in contact with your friends so simple that you can keep in touch with them all year round, no matter where you find yourselves.
10. Enjoy The Simple Life
Packing for your studies overseas can be the most challenging of tasks, as having to select between your favourite items and the necessary ones too can lead to lots of stress. However, having limited things when you go over to the States can be a refreshing experience and living a minimalist lifestyle will give you a new outlook on life completely.
Studying after school is a very important phase in your life, as it can shape you as a person and influence your career choices as well. Studying overseas is scary, but if you have the right mindset, and the determination and guts to do it, it will be extremely rewarding and a decision you will forever be grateful for.
It's never too late or too early to start your journey to studying in the USA. Sign up now for a free evaluation with one of our expert recruiters!