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Ticket to top U.S. university: Experience of a BIS Hanoi student

Monday, June 19, 2017, 07:55 GMT+7

Ha Quoc Huy, a Year 13 student at British International School (BIS) Hanoi, is one of the two Vietnamese students who have received an offer from the renowned Columbia University in New York City. He’s happy to share his experience in successfully applying to one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities.

Ivy League is a term commonly used to refer to a group of eight private, East-Coast colleges and universities in the United States renowned for providing an excellent education and significant history.

Quoc Huy decided to apply to Columbia University for several reasons. The university has an excellent ‘Core Curriculum’ which allows him to try out a lot of different courses like Philosophy, Literature, History, Music or Art. 

It’s really a good fit as Huy believes that a scientist also needs to know many other things about the world. In addition, being located in New York City, Columbia University offers students exciting opportunities outside of the classroom so he can do everything he loves including making movies and taking pictures.

Quoc Huy is a very active student at BIS Hanoi and gifted at Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. He studied the A-level program and became a Cambridge International Examinations’ “Outstanding Learner” and bested in Vietnam with the “Best Across” Award 2016. “Best Across” awards are issued to learners who have attained the highest cumulative total standard marks in a country over a set number of subjects either at IGCSE (eight subjects), AS Level (four subjects) or A Level (three subjects).


However, Huy shared that “high test scores and excellent academic achievement aren’t prerequisite factors to be accepted to top U.S. universities. Your profile must be different."

The top universities use a holistic review process when evaluating applicants for admissions. It means they are not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores. Instead, they consider a variety of factors: extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background.

One of the highlights in Huy’s profile is his personal skills, such as creativity and leadership, proven through various extracurricular activities. He also convinced the university’s admissions officers that he is able to apply his passion into practical works.

At BIS Hanoi, Huy participated in the globally-renowned Duke of Edinburgh's International Award - a program of personal development for young people aged between 14 and 25.  


In April 2016, Huy did research on improving solar cells’ performance with a Physics professor at the National University of Hanoi. With this practical research, Huy won the first prize in the "Frontiers in Material Science" competition for high school students in Southeast Asia. In addition, he joined in the "Actions for Earth" contest which aims to provide environmental solutions and waste reduction. His team has recently won the first prize of the contest.

About his submitted essays to Columbia University, Huy’s writing shows deep and personal reflection and highlights what he can bring to the community. He shared how he had persuaded his father to agree with his decision of studying a Science major instead of Business Management and his plan to apply solar energy research into improving poor living conditions. Huy believes student life is not all about learning but also about willingness to work and support the community.

Talking about the achievement, Huy says that five years of studying at British International School Hanoi was a great advantage. He learned a lot from his dedicated teachers at BIS who are some of the best teachers in Hanoi and provided useful learning sources as well as motivated him to explore new things in his favorite subjects.

The proactive BIS Hanoi community here also helped him to develop his personal and creative skills. With the Principal’s support, he created an amazing school video to end the school’s academic year 2014-2015 ( The school appreciates his contribution and believes that Quoc Huy will have many more wonderful achievements to come.

The British International School Hanoi, as part of the world’s leading premium schools organisation - Nord Anglia Education - offers an outstanding British-style education to local and expatriate students from 2 to 18 years old in Hanoi.

At BIS, we provide rigorous, internationally-recognised curricula and qualifications including the English National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate (IB).

The school operates from a purpose-built modern campus with first-class facilities resourced to the highest level and staffed with dedicated and committed teachers, thus ensuring the education on offer is amongst the very best available anywhere in the world.

For more information, please visit The British International School Hanoi.


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