Dina, High School Diploma graduate

Last year, Dina completed the mammoth task of finishing Russian and American school programmes. Dina was offered places at Louisiana State University, Penn State University and Oregon University, but due to the strain of the two programmes decided to stay in Russia for a year. After taking a year to catch her breath, and to try her hand at the British A-level programme, Dina is ready to take the plunge and go onto higher education. Her university of choice is Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


This year was great because it was not so stressful. Last year, I graduated from two schools simultaneously, which was very difficult. This year I gained the opportunity to study the British programme, because the British school gave me a scholarship. It’s been really fun; I found loads of amazing friends, and all the teachers who taught me were amazing.

How different was the British programme from the US programme?

As part of the American high school I studied History, Literature and US Government. I was surprised that I loved all of these subjects, although none of them were connected to my future specialization. My teacher Elena was just amazing. This year I studied Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics, which are all very useful and interesting. I think that they are very different from Russian school. When I first started, I thought that I knew Chemistry pretty well, and that the Chemistry A-level was going to be easy. However, it was very difficult for me – different topics, a different language. It was a very good experience, and I definitely needed to try studying the subjects in English.

Tell us about the application process.

I applied to two countries: The United States and to the Netherlands. There were some problems with the American application, some exams were cancelled in Russia and this was very stressful. We originally applied to the Netherlands as a backup option. Last year, when I first applied to American universities, I had no idea what to do. Everything was very last minute, I was in a hurry, my exams were not so good. This year my ACT and SAT exams were much better, I had interviews with American universities, which was a good experience for me. I definitely needed this year to rest and to understand what I really want in life.

Last year I was such a kid. I’m only 17, but when I look at myself a year ago, I understand how different my views were. I am much more realistic, I think, when it comes to what I want in life, my plans and goals. I see many things very differently, not necessarily like a grown-up, but I am trying to change myself, to become more hardworking, more successful.

I still want to do Science, as I still find it fascinating. I have still applied for Medical and Biomedical majors. I had 4 dream universities which are very competitive and difficult to get into: Duke University, Dartmouth, Brown and The University of Chicago. In the Netherlands, I applied to Groningen, Maastricht University and Radboud University. I was very interested in scientific research when it came to choosing universities, and all of my choices are strong in this field.

I found that it was useful to contact the universities. I contacted all of the universities I liked, and asked them about any information, which I could not find. They were all very nice and helpful. It was very interesting with Duke University; I spoke to them so much, that they remembered all of my personal information. I think this is good, because they see you as a person they already know. I also met with a Duke alumni, he’s from Russia, but he lives in Switzerland. He came to Russia to meet with me and another student who was applying to Duke.

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