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Will Studying More Subjects Help Me Get Into Harvard?

APR 08, 2020 • 6 min read

At Crimson Education we are often asked “how many subjects should I study for my university application?”, and our answer is often “as many as you can manage!”. The reason we say this is that we know a student can boost their chances of getting into a top US and/or UK university by taking more subjects and showcasing both academic excellence and a desire to learn more.

In an effort to explain why self-study can set you aside as a stand-out student in the very competitive pool of top university applicants, we have compiled two special blogs to walk you through the art of self-study. In this first part we will outline what self study is, why it can increase your chances of admission and why you should be building your self-study profile now. Ready to get started? Check it out below!

What is Self Study?

“Self-study” or autodidacticism refers to the pursuit of an academic subject or domain of knowledge outside of a traditional classroom and school system. Like learning at school, self-study should involve learning in a comprehensive and structured pathway, rather than merely engaging in general reading. But unlike the systems and structures set up at school, you have much more freedom as to what you decide to study, and how fast you choose to study it. Importantly however, self-study should always be used to augment what you are learning at school.

There are many intellectual benefits to self-study that will help you and your learning. When students take control and greater responsibility for their learning, it is proven they learn more effectively. They consume more knowledge, given they are personally invested in it rather than being forced to do it. It also drives a growth mindset: by engaging in self-study, you believe the constraints the education system puts on you are mere guidelines for you and your amazing academic ability. The most vital benefit of self-study of course is that it allows you to take more subjects than you otherwise would at school, and many people are not aware that this can be a powerful asset in getting into your goal universities!

Why Self-Study Boosts Your University Candidacy?

In some school systems, such as New Zealand and Australia, university admissions is based on a rank score, and boosting the number of subjects you do enhances the potential to reach this maximum score. Jamie Beaton, our CEO, did exactly this when he completed 10 A-Levels with 8 A*s, as well as achieving 1 Outstanding Scholarship in English and Scholarships in Media Studies, Economics, English Literature, French, Physical Education, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Statistics in the NZQA Scholarship tests.

For US universities, a holistic admissions process emphasizes differentiation relative to other candidates at the same school, going above and beyond relative to normal expectations in your high school, and providing extra credentials that warrant your academic ability. Thus, universities admire a student’s ability to re-skill, learn new content and continuously improve. Universities also recognise that self-study habits and independent learning capabilities are instrumental for success at a tertiary level and therefore, will be looked upon favourably.

For UK universities, completing more subjects helps with admissions by enhancing conviction in admissions committees on academic ability, UCAS points and may make conditional offers unconditional.

There may be benefits beyond university admissions down the track as well. Self-study almost certainly makes you more entrepreneurial in how you approach opportunities, and gives you greater confidence in confronting the unknown. Prospective employers also admire the intelligence and initiative needed to take extra subjects, which may or may not be reflected in your grades.

Did this blog give you an appetite for self study?

While the coronavirus has brought us a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty it can also be used as a time to consider and embrace the benefits of self-study. At Crimson, our online tutoring and mentoring expertise has seen us receive a large increase in online learning queries and support services and already we are seeing students thrive in the digital learning space and improve in subjects taught both in and out of school.

Crimson Global Academy — our first online high school — is open for enrolments and happy to support any student who wants to explore the benefits and flexibility of a first class education taught online. For further information you can visit their website here.