Hard work, with a little help, leads to success
Seventeen-year-old Tran Anh Khoa looks down at the silver and topaz ring he wears on his right hand. It was given to him by his father who bought it as a young man with his first pay check after graduating from university. Khoa says it was intended to be a reminder that if you work hard, you will succeed in life.
It certainly appears he took the advice to heart, as the Grade 12 European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS) student recently won a full scholarship to study at New York University’s Abu Dhabi (NYU Abu Dhabi) campus. “I want to study economics as a major, and also computer science or public policy,” Khoa said.
Khoa received scholarship offers from five universities but chose NYU because of the quality of the school and its study abroad options. He said would like to one day have a career in data engineering, finance and politics.
The scholarship is an achievement that has been many years in the making. From the 4th grade Khoa’s father was reading to him books on philosophy, geography, science and literature every day. A few years later, the young student was tackling this reading list by himself.
To realise his dream of an international university education, he transferred from local bi-lingual school APU International School to EIS at the beginning of Grade 11 with a 50% scholarship specifically to enter the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program.
“I wanted to challenge myself more, so that’s why I wanted to do the IB Diploma,” he said. “I also wanted to be able to do more activities in the community.”
Khoa said he recognised that US colleges (in particular), placed a great deal of emphasis on these extracurricular activities when it came to admissions, and EIS had an extensive range of such activities through the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) program. One such activity he was a part of was a major United Nations Development Program initiative known as Youth Force 2030 involving thousands of students in southern Vietnam.
“Most of the students at EIS are very smart and active, and the teachers are very well-rounded,” Khoa said. “It was a long [university] application process, with a lot of one-on-one attention from the EIS counsellors to help build a profile with the selection of courses and social work activities.”
Vu Hoang Thanh Trang and Ngo Ngoc Minh Nguyet are two other EIS seniors who have gained early acceptance to international universities. Trang, who transferred from Australian International School to EIS in Grade 11 with a 50% scholarship, is leaning towards a business degree at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Nguyet will pursue her favourite subject of psychology likely at McGill University, also in Canada.
Both girls credit the structure and services the school has in place for guiding not just them, but also their parents, through the IB Diploma and university application process. The school holds regular workshops for parents and students, while the University Counsellor and IB Diploma Coordinator also hold individual meetings with students and parents to go through the various options and pathways pupils may take.
“That really helped my parents understand the process,” Trang said. “My parents are flexible but have their own opinions on where I should go, what careers I should do. The counsellor helped convince them of a better path, that I had potential and helped my parents see that potential.”
Nguyet added that the school’s University Guidance & Counsellor had been essential in assisting preparing transcripts, revising applications and helping identify the personal elements that would create the strongest profile. “By giving us our own course and vision, it really helped frame who we want to be,” she said.
Contact EIS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (+84 28) 7300 7257 for more information.