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Yi Chen's Story: From Singapore to The University of Washington

MAR 11, 2020 • 6 min read

Yi Chen's Story

At age 10, Yi Chen moved from Taiwan to Singapore with her family. She was already a multinational before she was even a teenager. Without knowing it yet, her passion for exploring the world had been ignited.

She had a typical Asian upbringing when it came to her education; her mother would encourage her to do as much as she could in and out of school hours, making her attend an array of classes and courses from chess to ice-skating - yet none of them really stuck.

"Despite all my mother's effort … I never really developed any sort of talent,"

- Yi Chen says.

Even though Yi Chen failed to uncover a clear passion, she always respected the value of a good education, a trait inherited from her mother. At age 15, she decided she wanted to study abroad at a US college. One problem: as an international student, Yi Chen had little knowledge about the US application process.

She was going to need some support to help her realise her dreams and gain admission amidst a hyper-competitive landscape into a university on the world stage.

How Crimson Education Helped Yi Chen

Yi Chen connected with Crimson Education, who put her in touch with admissions strategist Nicole Teoh, a graduate of the University of Oxford (also admitted to Duke University and various other top US colleges). Nicole became a key member of a team of mentors supporting Yi Chen, aiming to give her the best chance of admission.

Yi Chen's Crimson team realised she needed to find ways to make her US application stand out due to her diverse repertoire and "disappointing" end of year Junior College (JC) results.

"The biggest challenge in applying to US universities was the uncertainty of getting into any of my match/reach schools because of my poor academic performance in JC. Applicants with perfect grades and scores can get rejected...I thought I didn't stand a chance at all."

They helped her turn her pre-existing passion - advocating and campaigning for mental health awareness, as well as other healthcare issues such as childhood cancer - into an edge. Incorporating this into extracurricular activities under her strategist's direction, she became an outspoken advocate for reversing the stigma surrounding mental health in Singapore.

"The beauty of US college admission process is that most of the schools really do look at everything on your application. Be true to yourself and your passions and they will shine through,"

- Yi Chen says.

Additionally, her essay mentor, Francesca Billington, a Princeton senior studying Anthropology and journalism, helped Yi Chen communicate her passions and uniqueness through Common App and school specific essays.

Despite her average academic results in JC, at age 18, Yi Chen received offers to five US universities as an international student. Yi Chen accepted her offer to the University of Washington as part of the class of 2022. She'll be studying Anthropology, just like one of her Crimson mentors, Francesca Billington.

Her advice to students wanting to study in the US is to focus on the best-fit education and working on your strengths, not trying to be something you aren't. "Your intention is the most important first step in this path," she says.

"Don't apply to certain universities because of your parents (but also don't be a rebel - negotiate and communicate with them), peer pressure, prestige, etc. There are things you can only do in local unis, and things you can only do in US unis. You have to know what kind of learner and person you are, which environment suits you and goals more."

Yi Chen has just started attending the University of Washington as part of the Class of 2022.

Yi Chen's Admission Offers

  • University of Washington
  • UC Davis
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • Syracuse University
  • Drexel University
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