University applications: using your Round Square experience

Posted: 01 March 2019

Right now many students throughout the world are in the midst of University applications, taking on the challenge of how to stand out from the crowd.

For students in Round Square schools, where all-round holistic development is the norm, and international exchange and conference opportunities bring them into contact with similarly high-achieving peers, it is important to remember when they complete their University application that against the norm their education has been filled with unusual – in many cases outstanding – challenges, experiences and achievements. 

We recognise that applicants from Round Square Schools not only have exceptional grades, but also have a range of other qualities and experiences which make them well-equipped to succeed at a research-intensive global university” says Dr Jessica Gallagher, Deputy Director (Global Engagement) at the University of Queensland “This requires much more than academic talent; it requires the type of confidence, resilience and independence that is fostered through the Round Square IDEALS.”

This is belief is borne out by the feedback we receive from many Round Square school alumni “I think that a Round Square education is different from a normal education in that you really learn about the rest of the world.” says Rufaro Sithole, a former pupil of St Stithians Girls’ College in South Africa, now studying at Brown University, Rhode Island “You learn to be an active global citizen, to be adventurous and an environmentalist over and above your academic learning and this experience is really valuable in making us enriched students.

I’ve definitely developed the ability to think on my feet” says Harry Raffan from Felsted School in England “Being able to discuss things and come up with ideas and answers and even questions that are different… It’s also the experiences themselves that I can draw on. So in an interview for a job or for university I can discuss where I’ve been and what I’ve done and what I’ve gained from that as well.

Elif Aslan, a former pupil from Ivanhoe Grammar School in Australia, agrees: “I really think I’ll stand out as opposed to other applicants just because I have had that real Round Square experience. I’ve been on a Service Project, I was Round Square captain in year 12 – that gave me a lot of opportunities – and I won the King Constantine Medal in year 12. I definitely feel I have more to offer than a lot of other people who haven’t had that broad spectrum.

Whilst University Admissions Tutors, in reviewing applications, will look for evidence of wider personal development such as Round Square, students should not rely on them to seek it out but instead should bring it to the forefront.

Each year I support and guide the University application process at my school and I always ensure that my students emphasise their Round Square experience in their Personal Statements” says Sandy Watt, Careers’ Adviser at Box Hill School in England “Universities need to know that not only is the candidate going to be able to cope with the chosen area of study and be a strong student but also that they are going to contribute something more to their chosen course and to wider university life.”

A Round Square student has much to offer here – transferrable skills such as communication, problem solving, tenacity, responsibility, team working, inquiry and the range of leadership skills go hand in hand with a genuine passion for learning and and academic achievement within our schools. All of these are found in the Round Square Discovery Framework which provides a great structure for getting students thinking about their learning in the context of the skills they need to evidence in their application.”

The Round Square Discovery Framework captures and describes the spirit of a Round Square learner who develops and exhibits competencies and attitudes in relation to each of the six Round Square IDEALS (Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service) along with twelve Discoveries that they make on their learning journey (inquisitiveness, tenacity, courage, compassion, inventiveness, ability to solve problems, self-awareness, sense of responsibility, appreciation for diversity,  commitment to sustainability, communication and teamworking skills)

Supporting students in reflecting on their learning against the 12 Round Square Discoveries is a great way to draw out experience that perhaps they may not otherwise think to include, but which, when clearly evidenced, will demonstrate the range of qualities that are looked for, and required, in successful University applications.

The Round Square IDEALS are shared by the University and we would welcome applicants who have been nurtured with these ideologies” says Hannah Lewis, Senior International Relations Officer at the University of Nottingham, “We encourage applicants to demonstrate positive skills like teamwork and leadership, and offer examples of where they have utilised these qualities to date. The Round Square IDEALS are very much embedded into student experience and academic study. A strong applicant will identify how their Round Square schooling has positioned them for their future University Life.”

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