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Helen Liu ’12 is currently pursuing studies in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto, having been admitted with a scholarship. She reflects here on how her studies at BWYA helped her to succeed, and gives practical tips on choosing IBDP courses.

I would say that the IB Diploma Programme has helped me a lot in university, especially the Higher Level (HL) courses and Theory of Knowledge (TOK). I received 3 transfer credits which is a lot since undergraduates only need 20 credits to graduate. This really is a great because I want to apply to medical school after my third year, so it helps a lot. These credits also allow me to take second year courses in my first year.

As for university applications, I mainly applied for universities in Canada because I want to continue my life here, so I think it is a good idea to start again here, to be familiar with the place and people. I applied to U Toronto, McGill, Queen’s, UBC and Western Ontario, I got accepted to all five with scholarships. I choose University of Toronto because of its location; the school is close to three large hospitals and there lots of internship and volunteer programs and research opportunities with big companies. I also applied to Johns Hopkins in the US, but changed my mind about America…

Based on my high school experience, I want to suggest future IB students to really think about their course selections, especially the HL ones. Because all courses require a great amount of work, might as well make them worth the most: students should choose DP courses that fit with what they plan to study university. Also, the choice of Extended Essay and Personal Project topics are really important – it really helps if they are related to the future field of study. Students in Beijing are also lucky in that there are lot of opportunities for them if they look – getting internships and volunteer work is pretty easy.

These experiences and credentials really put me ahead. I recently applied to join a biotech research group – and I got in as a first year. It really helped that I could include the lab experience of 2 HL Sciences, Group 4 Project, EE in Chemistry, PP in Science and an internship at Agilent Technologies on my application. 

Thanks for your helpful advice and congratulations on your success, Helen! 

Information The University of Toronto is listed as the top university in Canada and 21st in the world according to the 2012/2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which measure the institutional excellence of the world’s top 200 universities in research, teaching and knowledge transfer.