Getting into your dream university is often a daunting and confusing period. As students, we naturally look up to and are often in awe of people who get into the Ivies and the Oxbridges of the world. However, are these people really that “special”?
There is a common misconception that you need to have great talent or a great intellect to get into the best universities in the world. The moment you think of an Oxbridge or an Ivy student, you immediately think of the smartest, sportiest, or most creative person you can imagine. It is easy to develop an “us vs. them” mentality, to view these people as gods that we can only dream to compete against.
This misconception is understandable. After all, there are thousands of universities in the world, with hundreds of thousands of applicants each year competing for limited spots. When it comes to these elite universities, you are competing for the top 0.01% of the spaces. Naturally, you will feel out of your depth and uncomfortable when looking at your opposition.
While it is easy to let this drag you down and feel disheartened, we believe that this landscape should motivate you to compete and challenge your opposition for these valuable spots.
While it is undeniable that natural-born talent can improve one’s chances to get into a top university, you shouldn’t view this as the only way to get into your dream university.
We, at Logos, believe that everyone can get into the top universities as long as they have the correct mentality. What separates a successful applicant from an unsuccessful one is not their talent or their starting point. Rather, the battle is lost or won with their mentality.
If you have a negative outlook and let these misconceptions dishearten you, you already lost the battle. If you remain positive and believe that you can outwork and compete with these students, you give yourself a fighting chance.
Recently, I visited the cinema and watched Top Gun: Maverick. In the midst of all the rather horrible movies produced by Hollywood over the past years, it was truly a breath of fresh air. In fact, I loved the movie so much that I returned to the cinema three times to watch it again.
What stood out in this movie was not just the fantastic aerial footage and cinematography, but also the underlying message. Instead of being an overtly political message, Top Gun focused on something more universal.
Firstly, it illustrated that the metaphorical “little boy” could overcome insuperable odds (as seen in Maverick’s flight in the opening sequence or the success of the mission). Secondly, it demonstrated that software often can beat hardware (as seen in “its not the plane, its the pilot”).
How can these two messages apply to university applications?
Firstly, when faced with extremely talented students, it is very easy to view yourself as the underdog or the “little boy”. Sometimes you are correct when thinking that. I remember when I first joined my high school, I was overwhelmed by the intelligence of some of my classmates. They didn’t need to work hard to understand the material in lessons. They attended school, did the bare minimum, went home, and played video games. On the other hand, I struggled to keep up. It took me way longer to understand the material, I had to put in hours of extra study and revision out of the classroom to keep up with my classmates. Nevertheless, my determination and grit allowed me to not only catch up with my more talented classmates but also achieve better results.
Secondly, I like to view talent as the “hardware” and your mentality as the “software”. You can have access to all the hardware you want, but if you don’t have a good mentality to back it up, you can easily find yourself at a disadvantage. Of course, it is better to have both. A dear friend of mine who is willing to work as hard as me, whilst being way more talented than me naturally outperformed me. However, you need to recognise that many of the most talented students in high school often lack the right mentality to capitalise on their advantage. Recognising that they can get through high school by just doing the bare minimum, they may slack off. You should take that into consideration and use it to your advantage. If your competitors are sleeping, capitalise on their laziness and outwork them.
By doing so, you will be able to compete and outperform those who are more talented than you, both in life and also in university applications. As a result, don’t be disheartened, it is time for you to wake up and start working to achieve your dreams.
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