KIS International School

Applying to a Southern Hemisphere University

Petra, class of 2019

DP can be a very stressful time - on top of studying for our 6 core subjects, TOK and CAS, this is also the time everyone’s writing essays, having interviews and organizing deadlines for university.


I’m very lucky in the sense that I didn’t have to juggle university applications with everything else in Grade 12. This is because I was applying to New Zealand - which happens to be in the southern hemisphere. Students going to the Southern Hemisphere may start there in August/September but the larger intake is in February. As well as this major difference, a lot of other requirements for most southern hemisphere universities (such as those in New Zealand and Australia) differ greatly from what I see my friends do. I didn’t know much about the SAT’s and still don’t know the importance of a GPA! My application process (which I started in August) was very straight forward. From my experience the universities only want to look at your final IB score. Most don’t even ask for a reference letter or a university essay - maybe just a paragraph about why you’re applying to your chosen course. 


Applying for a scholarship is when the other requirements such as essays and letters are needed. Getting a scholarship in Australia and New Zealand is harder to get in the sense that there are not many offers. These universities tend to focus on giving scholarships to those who need it more - such as those with financial struggles, disabilities or family issues. 


I found one scholarship I was eligible for in New Zealand at the University of Waikato called the Te Paewai o te Rangi: The University of Waikato Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement worth $25,000 (NZD). This is awarded on the basis of academic excellence, leadership potential, and community citizenship. After submitting a CV, my IB scores, a letter from a DP teacher, a principal's assessment and a two page personal statement about my skills, extracurricular activities, service and leadership roles, I was able to get the scholarship. This means I’ll be attending the University of Waikato in February 2020 for a Bachelors of Social Sciences: Screen and Media Studies and have most of my accommodation paid in the first year as well as some of the fees costs in subsequent years.


On reflection, it was quite a different experience to start applying later than everyone else. This may not work for everyone, and many students do already apply sooner, when they still have the support from their school and they may start university straight after high school. For me, starting applications later for a February start worked well.  I didn’t feel the pressure to even pick a major during my time at KIS. I had no clue what I was going to do before I started applying - I even thought about taking another full gap year. I’m glad that I was able to take the extra time to think about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do so I didn’t rush into choosing a course that I wasn’t passionate about. I’m also glad for the extra time before university starts as I was able to get my first internship, focus on sports and writing and overall develop more life skills. 


Even though most of my classmates took a path that was a slightly quicker route to university I’m glad I made my own decisions and did what was best for me. 


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