Wellington College Shanghai Lever Interview: Fit for psychology | Tracy, Vassar

As one of the top international schools in Shanghai, Wellington College International Shanghai provides the pupils with a personalised, strategic and effective university and career guidance programme. As early as year 9, Wellington College International Shanghai works with them to identify their skills and interests. This Shanghai international school teaches them how to cultivate the attributes that universities and employers value. With help from its Higher Education and Careers team, the pupils from Wellington College International Shanghai learn to think strategically when choosing their coursework and preparing for their admissions exams. Whether conducting mock admissions interviews or coaching on how to write an effective personal statement, the school is with its pupils every step of the way. And every year, Wellington College International Shanghai’s pupils make the school proud with offers from some of the world’s most respected institutions of higher learning.

Wellington College International Shanghai

Recently, this IB school in Shanghai talked with Tracy, Class of 2024. Tracy received an offer to attend Vassar College in the US, where she will pursue a major in psychology. Nice work, Tracy!

In her seven years as a Wellingtonian at this Shanghai international School, Tracy has come a long way. She started here as a year 7 pupil. Initially shy and reserved, Tracy soon discovered that she had a talent for performance. Before long, she was landing roles in our annual musical theatre productions. By the time she advanced to Senior School, she earned Wellington Fellowships in the Arts and Academics. She has also played an active role in Wellington’s many charitable initiatives and, as the 2023-24 Head of College, she is a leader among her peers. Here Tracy reflects on seven years of transformative personal growth.

What made you want to pursue a major in psychology?

Wellington College International Shanghai

I think it was because of all the books I’ve read because my English teacher always encouraged me during IGCSE to read a lot of books. And that’s where I first started reading books that are related to psychology. One book that especially influenced me was Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. That was the first book I ever read that made me think about how people’s brains work.

There’s another one called The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. That was a really interesting book because it was about neurodegenerative diseases and how different surgical procedures on the brain can influence a person’s behavior.

What school have you decided to go to?

I applied to universities all over. I applied to Manchester, Durham, UCL, Edinburgh and Hong Kong University. In the US, I applied to and got accepted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The University of Rochester offered me a  15,000 USD scholarship. I also got into UC Davis, UC San Diego and UC Irvine, and I was waitlisted at UC Berkeley and UCLA. But Vassar was my early decision school, and they gave me an offer, so I’ll be starting there this fall.

What attracted you to Vassar?

I think the reason why I chose Vassar is that every single applicant just seemed really talented. I’m just very impressed by how academically excellent they are, but then at the same time how well they are in other areas, such as sports. Also, my sister’s friend is an alumna. She told me all about how supportive, multicultural and inclusive it is. They welcome people of different races and identities.

I like the idea of going to a liberal arts college because it is more centred around students. Vassar is smaller with only about 2000 students. So, there are more opportunities for office hours with professors. I also like the flexibility. You are encouraged to pursue a lot of disciplines and not just limit yourself to one.  So, even if you are like me and have already said that you want to pursue psychology as a major, you can still pick others if you’re not sure whether you want to do it.

Where do you see a degree in psychology taking you in life?

Wellington College International Shanghai

I think I’m still going to go for a PhD because I still haven’t decided if I want to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I have thought about taking a more neuroscience-medicine mix with just primary psychological counselling. That’s what I’ll have to decide when I am at uni. There are a lot of things you do with a psychology degree. You can go to communities and you can go to companies and be their counsellor. You can teach psychology or do something in general education.

What was the biggest challenge for you in the university admissions process?

I think it was the balance of time. I am pretty unique in that I applied to schools in the US, UK and Hong Kong. That’s a lot of essays to write and a lot of activities to keep up with because, in the US, they aren’t just looking at your essays and your academic performance. They want to see that you are getting involved. So, balancing all of that with my IB work and studying for the SAT and TOEFL was a big challenge.

How did our Higher Education and Careers team help you to achieve your goals?

I have to say Ms Williams helped so much. We had monthly meetings since year 12. She always asked me how I was doing and helped me to identify all the things I needed to do to stand out as an applicant, like volunteering and internships. She was really good at targeting things to my interests. She helped me edit my resume for internships, which was helpful because I was able to use it throughout the application process. She also helped a lot with my essays, which I really needed, because I applied to more than 30 universities. She helped me edit every single one of them. Most schools ask for around three essays. So, that was nearly 90 essays in the end. Mr Beard helped a lot with my UK applications, especially when preparing for interviews, and he had a lot of great advice on how I can edit my essays for UK schools.

Tell us about some of the community service work you have done at Wellington.

Last year I was in the charity CCA, and I did a lot. We raised around 40,000 RMB in a year. We had a lot of bake sales. I also helped organize our Syrian earthquake exhibition. We asked all of our IB art pupils to draw some kind of artwork to exhibit on that day. We also did a donation drive campaign in which we encouraged the pupils to donate whatever they could. Also, whenever there was a festival, we used it as an opportunity to raise money for causes like Stepping Stones or Clean Air Force.

Tell us about a Wellington experience that helped you grow or build character.

Musicals. When I was in year 8, my peers encouraged me to audition for a musical, and I got a major part on my first try. I was shocked. So, I started to perform, and I started to enjoy all the lights and all the applause that I got when I was on stage. And I think that’s when everything started to change. I became more talkative and more open to sharing my ideas and taking in ideas. I’ve been performing in musicals here ever since. I’ve had roles in productions like Shrek, Chicago, The Wiz, and Pippin!

What do you like most about being a Wellingtonian?

All the encouragement that I get from teachers and friends. A lot of my teachers have been teaching me since I started here, like my Chinese teacher, she has been teaching me since year 7, and she is still teaching me for IB.

What advice do you have for next year’s incoming year 13 pupils?

Be brave. Don’t be scared that you won’t have time to manage all this because you actually can if you organise your time properly. Don’t feel scared to reach out to any teachers if you need help. Try to grasp every single opportunity you get. But be sure to keep up with your academic work too. That’s really important. 

The time I had backstage. I think it’s not really the time I have on stage, but really the backstage part. All the practice that I got during CCA time and Centre Stage. Those are the times that I cherish most. That was when I got to know people from other year groups. I even have a lot of friends from year 8, a lot younger than me. But they are so mature, kind and supportive.

Media Contact
Company Name: Wellington College International Shanghai
Contact Person: Admission Department
Email: Send Email
Phone: +86-21 5185-3866
Address:No.1500 Yao Long Road, Pudong New District
City: Shanghai
Country: China
Website: https://shanghai.wellingtoncollege.cn/