What's the best way to spend your time before you start university?


High School in NZ ends in December, but US/UK universities only start in September the next year. What is the most effective way to spend your time? Is there anything you can do until March decisions to help increase your chances?


Great question @Hughesy

Firstly, I’ll start from a personal anecdote - my own experience. I did 3 things:

A. I attended University of Auckland and took 5 2nd year courses (4 in Economics, 1 in Mathematics). I wanted to continue to stimulate my mind and near the end of high school had really come to love economics and thought it would be smart to explore it more before heading to Harvard. In hindsight, this was invaluable and was one of the reasons I was able to accelerate my coursework and graduate in 3 years.

I took: Econ 201 Microeconomics, Econ 221 Introduction to Econometrics, Econ 232 Development of the International Economy, Econ 211 Macroeconomics and Math 250 Advancing Mathematics 2.

B. I did some community service work through a micro-finance initiative I chaired: www.youthfund.co.nz (not operating anymore I don’t think). This was a youth-for-youth initiative with a number of awesome fellow board members I really enjoyed working with.

C. I did an internship at The Icehouse: www.theicehouse.co.nz. I wanted to start getting business experience, specifically in the start-up space and thought this was an epic place to do it at.

There are many exciting things to do:

  1. Learn Udemy/Coursera/EdX Online Courses
  2. Learn an intense language though a full on immersion program
  3. Build a core competency in one of your main academic interest through accelerated classes
  4. Take the intensive Crimson finance boot camp (great for aspiring bankers/consultants)
  5. Travel intensively (probably not recommended the whole time)
  6. Do an internship
  7. Do some academic research
    The list goes on…

There is a lot that can be done to increase your chances before March and this is a big area of focus for our Crimson students. Everything from new and exciting leadership initiatives to new academic work (showing interest in new fields or core interest areas) to update letters to enrollment in various university courses that shows you are keeping very busy are all useful. The exact answer really does depend on your candidacy, the university in question and various other factors.

Many students seek Crimson’s advice on how best to optimize this 8 months given the right answer is a highly personalized one dependent on your academic interests, university programs (you want to perform well once you get there), priorities, skill sets and weaknesses.

Feel free to reach out to f.jiang@crimsoneducation.org who is one of our resident experts on the so-called “gap year plan”. A good plan for how to best use the next 8 months will set you up very well to excel once you head off to university and I attribute a lot of my great success at Harvard to a strong plan in the 8 months before arrival!

Lastly - have fun!! The 8 month gap year of sorts pre the US or UK universities starting is going to be one of the most relaxing phases of your life and allows you to explore a variety of interests and have a ton of fun while doing it if thought so well.

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