By Harry Hortyn, Co-founder, OxfordSummerCourses
When students from India set their sights on a place at one of the top international universities, they need to be prepared for some intense competition.
Even with a haul of top grades and an impressive list of extra-curricular interests, chances of securing a coveted place at Harvard or MIT in the US, or Oxford or Cambridge are slim.
It’s no longer enough for an applicant to focus all their energies on turning in coursework, passing exams and running for team captain, today’s students need to demonstrate that they have the qualities required to flourish on the global stage.
So, why are these global qualities so important for an aspiring student?
Learning without frontiers: The world’s top universities are becoming increasingly ambitious in their mission to address the world’s most pressing issues, and to do this, they need to attract the brightest minds from across the globe and prepare them to contribute to society world-wide.
With the best-known institutions placing so much importance on globalism, we are seeing
something of a ripple effect, where other universities are following suit and opening their doors to internationally-minded students.
Deanna Ford, a Harvard graduate and member of their interview committee recognises the growing emphasis on taking an international outlook.
“I help students internationally to secure places at the university of their choice, and the level of competition is astonishing,” she says.
“But you have to remember that, in the business world, taking a global view is second nature, which is why these places look for global-minded applicants.”
The shift towards the global student has encouraged Deanna to raise her own children with an international perspective.
“In America, where I live, it’s usual for children to go to summer camps for up to six weeks, and my own children have attended international ones in the UK since they were 11. I think it prevents them from living in an American bubble. They learn so much from mixing with children from Europe and Asia, and get to understand different perspectives and points of view that will serve them well in the future.”
Opening minds: When students are able to share ideas with their counterparts in other countries, collaboration becomes second nature, and the ability to work alongside people from different nations is a skill that’s in high demand across academia and in their future careers in business or medicine and the like.
As Dr Saroj Velamakanni, guest lecturer at Cambridge and member of the interview panel for medicine and natural sciences explains, “Students need to demonstrate cross cultural experience, and the potential to interact and work with different cultures in business. We can’t only look to Europe for innovative medical developments, for example – we have to look at Hong Kong, China and other nations if we want to be top of our game.”
However, universities are not only looking out for internationally minded applicants to join their courses, they are also broadening the horizons of their current students, to prepare them for the world of work.
“Encouraging students to investigate international working and studying possibilities, including internships, camps and stints at NGOs is a good place to start,” says Saroj.
“Learning is a constant process, which is why it is so important to develop a deep curiosity about new ideas and new experiences from within, but also outside of your home country.”
For today’s global student, qualities such as open-mindedness, good communication and the confidence to work across cultures should not be underestimated.
About Author: Harry Hortyn is the co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses which welcomes students from over 100 countries across the globe to their Oxbridge learning experience summer courses in both India and the UK.