Graduates’ Talk | Cambridge University Admitted Student Zhu Siyan

Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

On January 24th, it was a day that G12 student Tracy Zhu would never forget; after self-study time, she returned to her dorm room with bated breath, opened her email, and a Cambridge University “Congratulations” offer letter caught her eye. She screamed and dashed out of the dorm to share the news with her college counselor, Ms. Cao. After receiving her confirmation, she screamed again and ran back. Reflecting on that moment, she shyly remarked, “I was so excited at that time, only to realize upon returning that I had frightened my classmates.”

For Tracy, fulfilling her dream of a Cambridge University offer was a bit surprising; but looking back on her journey of growth, this offer was a testament to her hard work and talent.

Since joining our school at its inception in 2018, she has grown comprehensively and solidly, reaping many rewards: from being a shy and silent student to an outgoing and lively “academic overachiever”; excelling in arts, sports, and academics, she has set an example of for us.

🔸 TOEFL: Scoring 112 (out of 120) on her first attempt, with a perfect score in listening;

🔸 SAT: Achieving a remarkable 1540 in her first attempt;

🔸 IGCSE: All subjects remarked as A*;

🔸 Qualified for the AIME in the AMC math competition;

🔸 Displaying outstanding artistic talent with her original paintings featuring anthropomorphic airplane themes being published on various platforms;

🔸Exhibiting strong athletic abilities, particularly in badminton.

Let us follow in Tracy’s footsteps and take a look back at her journey of growth at Hangzhou Dipont School of Arts and Science.


01 The Growth of an Introverted Girl: Here, she gains unprecedented experiences

In 2018, Tracy entered junior high school, and her parents brought her to Hangzhou Dipont School of Arts and Science, opening the doors to a new world for her.

She discovered new courses on her schedule, such as drama, which she had never encountered before. She could unleash her imagination and creativity in art class, study physics, chemistry, and biology in state-of-the-art laboratories, participate in a variety of school activities, learn in an all-English environment, and meet outstanding teachers from different cultural backgrounds… All of these made her feel curious and greatly enriched her.

TTracy’s orginal art works

Tracy admits that the greatest gain over the 6 years was the variety of experiences and growth.

She enjoyed various school activities, feeling a sense of participation in the collective. She especially loved the House Music, participating as either a performer on stage or an audience member below, attending every House Music event since its inception and feeling immensely proud of her House:“ Bowen is the best! Over the 6 years at this school, I’ve become familiar with the teachers and students here. I can find everyone I’ve interacted with, recalling either beautiful or bitter stories with each of them. Such memories and feelings are irreplaceable.”

She has also tangibly felt the changes and growth within herself. She shared that in G7, her classmates saw her as a “shy little sister with a valley girl accent,” but now she has become passionate, confident, with diverse interests, willing to communicate with others, learned to listen and share, something she never imagined 6 years ago.


02 The Clear Path To The Future: Meeting good teachers turns dreams into reality

In her childhood, Tracy’s mother often brought her science magazines to read, cultivating not only her interest in the field of science but also fostering her strong curiosity. As she grew up, she became interested in various fields such as physics, mathematics, chemistry, and economics.

When she entered junior high school, it was two exceptional teachers that truly set her on the path of mathematics.

Tracy admits, “In primary school, my math grades were actually quite ordinary, and I didn’t think this subject was particularly interesting.” However, in her first year at school, she encountered a math teacher who was excellent at teaching. Under the guidance, she gradually appreciated the charm of mathematics. “The teacher explained things well and was very clear, so learning math didn’t seem as difficult anymore.

During a parent-teacher meeting discussing future development directions, when Tracy was still somewhat hesitant and confused, her math teacher suggested that she choose mathematics. She said, “The teacher told me that the Airbus, specifically recruits students from the mathematics department. After hearing this, I exclaimed, realizing how important mathematics is!” From that moment on, she decided to focus on studying mathematics.

In G11, she joined the Math Club in the school, encountered the second teacher, who had a significant impact on her.

She said:”If the previous teacher gave me dreams in mathematics, Mr. Tong helped me gradually realize those dreams. His humorous teaching style is unforgettable, and his classes are not only very interesting but also full of valuable content. If you don’t do your homework well, you’ll be ‘criticized’ by him.”

From Mr. Tong, Tracy learned not only knowledge but also time management and the correct attitude toward differences. She shared that in class, the teacher would help them summarize questions from different areas based on the category of knowledge, study knowledge in a unit-by-unit manner, practice questions, and finally require them to complete the entire paper within a specified time limit, thereby training their time management skills and problem-solving strategies.

Compared to classmates who started focusing on Math competitions in junior high school, Tracy’s journey into mathematical competitions started later, bringing greater pressure. However, Mr. Tong constantly encouraged her, telling her that inevitable gaps could be compensated through her own efforts, ultimately leading to ideal results. This helped her build confidence in her mathematical studies.

In addition, the teacher tailored a personalized study plan for her in mathematics, specifying the competition awards she needed to achieve before applying, which allowed her to arrange her time in a more focused manner. These useful experiences and customized planning helped her approach the application season with more planning and confidence, efficiently handling the multitude of academic tasks.

Encountering good teachers, unlocking her own talents, and putting in 100% effort—all these factors together served as a reliable escort for Tracy on her journey to Cambridge.


03 Methodical Time Planning: Every Effort is a Cornerstone on the Road to Dream School

Tracy’s journey to higher education began in the G9. Guided by teachers and relying on solid personal efforts and strong time management skills, she achieved outstanding results in the “must-have” aspects of her applications.

In G10, Tracy began preparing for the TOEFL and SAT exams. Under the guidance of the school’s exam preparation team, she diligently and systematically tackled each component: carefully reviewing every set of vocabulary tests, completing every practice exam seriously, painstakingly studying each question, meticulously treating every piece of notes. Every action in her study and review process was meticulous. With the collective efforts of teachers and students, she achieved impressive results with a TOEFL score of 112 and an SAT score of 1540, relieving herself of the pressure of standardized test scores during the application season.

In G11, after deciding to apply for mathematics and selecting the UK as her primary destination, Tracy and her college counselor began preparing for the application season. They meticulously researched mathematics programs at UK universities and ultimately set their sights on Cambridge University. Through Cambridge’s official website, Tracy gained a clearer understanding of the course offerings, specific requirements, and resources for exploring subjects, enhancing her understanding of applying to Cambridge University. Her college counselor also integrated her other interests, such as aerospace and physics, conducting in-depth exploration and interdisciplinary integration with her.

During the summer vacation, Tracy participated in Awesome Math’s online summer program and the Oxbridge Camp organized by the Dipont Education Group. She not only met many like-minded teachers and classmates but also deepened her understanding of the mathematics major. She also gained a preliminary understanding of Cambridge’s essays and interviews.

Throughout her high school years, Tracy strategically allocated her time. After excelling in standardized tests, school planning, and summer program preparations, she finally focused her energy on making the final push toward Cambridge University.


04 A Stress-Free Application Season: Supported by Many, She Becomes the 1/254

Tracy’s application season was both ordinary and special. Like everyone else, she faced the pressure of essays, interviews, and waiting for results. However, what set her apart and made her fortunate was the selfless help and warm support she received from her college counselor, teachers, parents, and classmates.

Essays were the most anxiety-inducing part for every twelfth-grade student. Throughout the entire summer vacation, Tracy proactively explored ways of writing essays and actively communicated with her college counselor. Although she initially struggled with the format and presentation of British essays, through frequent communication and exchanges, she gradually articulated her unique insights into mathematics and expressed her explorations in mathematics with fluent language. In her essays, Tracy not only demonstrated her deep exploration in mathematics but also showcased her insightful reflections in every activity and every reading.

Her authentic and content-rich expressions, coupled with impressive academic achievements, earned Tracy an interview invitation from Cambridge.

During the interview preparation process, the college counseling department systematically explained the format and content of Cambridge interviews to her and provided her with some past questions. In the week leading up to the interview, the college counseling department and subject teachers arranged mock interviews for Tracy every day, covering both academic and general questions. In addition, the Dipont’s Cambridge interview experts in mathematics provided support and connected her with senior students from sister schools for practical experience sharing.

With her own efforts and support from various resources, Tracy successfully realized her dream of studying at Cambridge, becoming one of the 254 students in China who received offers from Cambridge University.

In the eyes of her teachers, Tracy’s brilliance far surpasses mere good grades. Her enthusiasm for academics and life, boundless imagination and creativity, keen perceptiveness, and compassionate spirit of gratitude and contribution are all qualities more important than high scores.

We believe Tracy can use Hangzhou Dipont School of Arts and Science as a starting point to embark on the broader platform of Cambridge University, where she can explore, create her beautiful life, and realize her mathematical aspirations.