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Find all the Frequently Asked Questions about the US & UK Admissions process

Ultimate US UK EU Summit text with university flags

Questions about the US/UK Application Process

When should I start my college application?

No matter your age, you should work to become the best version of yourself. Develop strong learning habits; find ways to grow your intellectual curiosity; enhance your leadership skills so you can make a difference in your community. Practice listening, patience, and self-reflection. No matter your grade or age, you can continue to improve yourself, but make sure you’re doing things you enjoy. Do not fill your schedule to look good — fill your life with things that you value. When it comes time to apply, your application will easily showcase a passionate individual ready to make the most of our college.

What should I do to figure out what I want to study? Is it ok to apply to many majors?

The beauty of the US and the Liberal Arts Education system is that it’s all about trying different things - colleges like Harvard even have a dedicated “shopping week” which is designed for you to try out different classes -research, explore, and try as many as you are interested in before choosing your majors. It’s also ok to apply to different but related majors. For example: Business and Communications, or Engineering and Computer Science,…****

How do I decide what my "best fit" college is?

When you consider that the US has over 3,000 options when it comes to universities, it can at first appear somewhat overwhelming. In developing an application strategy, it is important to maintain a balanced college list, where you apply to those across a range of selectivity (you may have heard the terms of reach, target and safety schools).

It’s also important to maintain a sense of realism when it comes to developing these lists, and to understand yourself what the most selective admit rate is that you have chance of admission. This also allows your own expectations to be managed and through this process to remind yourself of the value you see in studying in the US (eg opportunities of jobs, personal growth, attending one of the best universities in the world etc.)

Not sure how to develop a realistic college list - talk to us!

What is the benefit of applying in the Early Round (EA/ED) vs the regular round?

These rounds are designed for students who have done their research and know they want to apply to a particular college (like we alway emphasise to student- the earlier you start the better!) It is a chance for to show their interest in the college and say “hey, I really want to be here, this is what I have done and why I am the right fit” - ultimately it gives you an admission decision several months before Regular Round.

Early Decision is binding (so this is why it makes sense to apply for your dream college) and when an offer is made, it’s done on the premise that you will be on campus to join the incoming class. Another important factor to take into consideration is that these applicant numbers are substantially smaller than the regular round, so if you do the math and able to apply to your top choice it is a great way to be able to stand out against fewer candidates

What extracurriculars should I be doing to get into a top university?

The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to extracurriculars is that there isn’t necessarily a magic formula (eg. Harvard doesn’t state that for any admit they must have won a national debating competition - alternatively if you’re wanting to study politics this may be helpful!)

What extracurriculars you explore to show intellectual vitality doesn't always have to match up to the major you are wanting to study. You're showing that you have it in your DNA to be one of those students that takes ownership of a project and runs with it.****

Does being from a highly competitive high school increase my chances of acceptance?

The bottom line is that top colleges want to see good grades earned at any high school—competitive or otherwise. It is important to consider which high school to attend based on the environment in which you are most likely to thrive as opposed to academic rigor. For example, a student who takes a challenging course at a competitive high school but ends up with a poor grade, admissions officers will not necessarily take a more lenient position just because of the nature of the school they attend. 

What advantages do US citizens have over international students when applying to colleges in the US?

Many universities cap the number of international students they can accept each year, in which case it may seem that US citizens have an upper hand in the admissions process at these schools. But in reality, it is more complicated than that. In recent years, more and more universities have become overly reliant on overseas students, whose tuition fees make up a huge portion of their revenue stream, and may very well change the ways they evaluate international candidates in the future. Aside from chances of acceptance, US applicants generally do qualify for a variety of financial aid options and scholarships that are typically available to citizens only. 


What’s the possibilities of getting full-tuition scholarships in the US/UK?

Due to the increased number of international students applying to the US/UK, the amount of financial aid and scholarships is getting smaller compared to years ago. In the US, this is assessed on a needs basis, and part of the application requires you to upload your family’s financial situation- you would additionally need a strong overall profile.

The UK offers less scholarship opportunities (they reserve scholarship money for postgraduate applicants and in most cases will involve applying directly to the university (rather than at the UCAS stage)

Questions about Crimson services

I missed the start/part of the event, can you send me the recording?

This is an exclusive event and unfortunately we are unable to share the event recording if you are not a current Crimson student.

How many Crimson students were accepted in the most recent admission round?

In the last admissions round (2020/21), Crimson helped students gain 90+ offers to Ivy League universities,  Total 760+ offers to US Top 50 universities including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia...etc. And Total 350+ offers to UK Top 10 universities including Oxford and Cambridge.  

What is a Strategist and how can they help my child?

At Crimson we are lucky to have a global team of strategists that guide their students through the entire application process. From choosing the best universities for their academic goals and educational passions to making sure their entire application has an overarching theme; our strategists are the lynchpin that holds a student’s application together.

What is Crimson's fee structure?

At Crimson we don't offer standard programs- when it comes to what program is best for a student this is as individual as the student themselves. All programs are customized based on the goals of the student and what services they are looking for - the best way to get an accurate quote is by discussing in a consultation with a Crimson Academic Advisor.

My child doesn’t know what they want to study or where. Should we wait to start Crimson?

The longer your child ponders their university options, the more stressful it will be once they make a decision. Overseas university applications are a marathon not a sprint and if your child is well-prepared for US university admissions, they will hit the requirements for local universities as well. What you don’t want to happen is for your child to finally make a decision in their final year of school and then have to rush through a lot of work (standardised tests, extracurricular activities and applications), while stressed about their final year at school. Starting the process early will alleviate a lot of initial worry and if they change their mind later down the line, they would’ve still learned valuable lessons such as time management, grit and perseverance, that will help them succeed regardless of where they go to uni. 

Why Crimson, as opposed to other university admissions consultants?

As the world’s leading US and UK university admissions consultancy, our students are 4x more likely to gain acceptance to the Ivy League, Oxbridge and more. Every student we work with deserves individualised support in every aspect of their application - so each student gets assigned to a hand-picked team of experts and mentors to help them achieve their level best. 

Moreover, we operate in more than 20 countries worldwide, which gives us the advantage of having insights into the competitive standard of students’ profiles for each application round. 

Overseas universities are so expensive. Why wouldn’t we just attend our local university?

The ROI of overseas universities, especially in the US, is substantial. Starting salaries for top jobs from top universities hover around at least 80K+ USD, if not higher. Thus, while the price tag may be higher, the overall return is much more impactful. Additionally, many US universities offer scholarships that help make the unis more affordable, and sometimes even cheaper than local ones. 

What if I can't afford Crimson's Services?

Crimson was developed with a mission to help bridge the access gap and allow students from any part of the world to study at the best universities in the world. At Crimson we believe that no one owns a seat at a top university, and that such opportunities must come to those who work the hardest, the smartest and the most enthusiastically to realize their full potential. We offer internal financial aid and scholarships for under-privileged communities.

Please reach out to your local Crimson office to see if you qualify for a Crimson scholarship.


I have a local question

Which curriculum is more favorable for top universities? Is IB better than A-Level? (Hong Kong)

All recognised curriculums are equally weighted. Whilst the HKDSE is a local curriculum for Hong Kong students, it is very well-recognised by top universities around the world. The more important thing is how well you perform in the curriculum (grades achieved) and how distinct your profile is.

What are the common pitfalls of Hong Kong applicants?

Hong Kong students tend to be very strong test-takers, achieving a full slate of straight A grades is not uncommon. But when applying to top US and UK universities with admissions rates lower than 20% (elite universities like Harvard are as low as 4.6%), Hong Kong students tend to fall short in portraying a unique narrative and edge. Applicants from Hong Kong often follow a dull “check-list” of extracurricular activities, participate in a sport, play a musical instrument and attend volunteering opportunities at local care homes - activity lists like such lack depth and direction, oftentimes, applicants like these remains in the 80% that gets rejected from their dream universities.

My child is in G6, can Crimson help (India)?

Crimson works with students as early as age 9 and has especially created the Crimson Rise program for students who are yet to reach middle school. The Rise program focuses on building a strong foundation and inculcating essential skills such as research, critical thinking, writing to set the student up for success in both the high school years as well as the university application process. Rise program also offers foundation modules in areas such as entrepreneurship, coding, MUN, speech and debate - which are the most popular interest areas for extracurricular and leadership projects for high school students applying to universities abroad.

Can students from CBSE or other Indian boards apply to work with Crimson?

 Yes, we work with students from all Indian and international boards who aspire to study at the world's best universities 

Can you get into top overseas universities with NCEA? (New Zealand)

NCEA isn’t as widely understood as A Levels or IB and isn’t viewed as nearly as competitive. If you’re aiming for top universities, it’s important to take at least a few international courses, either online or in your school.

What are the common pitfalls of Singapore applicants?

Singapore students tend to be incredibly strong academically, comprising some of the most academically gifted students in the world. But when applying to top US and UK universities with admissions rates lower than 20% (elite universities like Harvard are as low as 4.6%), Singapore students tend to fall short in portraying a unique narrative and edge. Applicants from Singapore often follow a dull “check-list” of extracurricular activities, participate in a sport, play a musical instrument and attend volunteering opportunities at local care homes - activity lists like such lack depth and direction, and oftentimes, applicants like these remain in the 80% that gets rejected from their dream universities.

How do students in Taiwan compare to other students in the region in terms of competitiveness?

Taiwan’s education system is by no means less competitive academically than its counterparts in the region, but many Taiwanese students find themselves coming up short in terms of creativity, leadership skills and other soft skills that top US and UK universities value. It is critical for students in Taiwan to realize the importance of developing skills outside the classroom by taking part in extracurriculars, research projects, social initiatives and other activities that they find interesting and meaningful. This not only allows them to have that personal layer added to their academic profile, but also increases their chances of acceptance at top-ranked universities that adopt the holistic review process. 

What does a strong profile look like for a local Vietnamese student? (Vietnam)

Excellent grades in academics (>9.0 GPA, >1500 SAT, multiple APs subjects), competitive extracurricular activities that can showcase your leadership skill and your passion for the major of interests, and a perfectly-written personal statement.