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Four ways to boost your academic portfolio during lockdown

High school students across South Africa are concerned about the impact the nationwide lockdown will have on the quality of their university applications. Those who have set their sights on top international universities are under pressure to build an impressive academic and extracurricular portfolio, with limited options. With steep competition from every corner of the globe, ambitious students must demonstrate innovation in order to stand out.

“Overseas universities are looking for well-rounded candidates who can successfully manage both academic and environmental pressures. This crisis gives students an opportunity to show universities how they handle difficult situations – the ability to react smartly, efficiently, and empathetically is evidence of what they can bring to a campus and their future careers,” says Rebecca Pretorius, Country Manager for Crimson Education.

The global mentoring company is helping students dream big about their education and future careers, despite an uncertain future. Crimson specialises in building the candidacy of students for acceptance to top universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. “While admissions officers will certainly be sympathetic to the extenuating circumstances of a global pandemic, the reality is that it’s only going to make admissions at top universities more competitive,” says Pretorius.

Regardless of where a student is applying, Crimson’s advice is to leverage the current situation to demonstrate adaptability and creative thinking. Pretorius offers the following tips for high school students to improve their applications during lockdown:

  • Academics: While you may not be able to engage as much with your teachers, your academic success remains in your hands. Students can learn more about the areas they are interested in by utilising online resources for independent subject research.
  • Demonstrate leadership: Show that you are quick to adapt, and an asset to any organisation by moving everything online. For example, if you are part of a sports team, consider building a home workout for your teammates. If you are planning an event, consider making it digital using Zoom or Google Hangout.
  • Find online extracurriculars: Even once schools reopen, strict social distancing measures will prevent most sporting and cultural extracurricular activities. You can showcase your commitment to learning outside of an academic setting by participating in online conferences, digital hackathons, and virtual debates.
  • Personal Projects: Universities love to see students who take initiative and lead their own projects. You can start your own app, launch a non-profit or start-up company, or get involved with virtual volunteering for charities. For example, you can make support phone calls to the elderly or by set up social media pages for non-profit organisations.

Through a team mentorship model, Crimson Education connects students with admission strategists and tutors to assist them with the complex application process for overseas universities. Each students’ team is made up of alumni and students from top universities and colleges, which include Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford.

With a presence in 30 cities, the company launched in South Africa in 2018. Crimson supports students applying to universities in the US, UK, Europe and China. They also offer regular webinars with experts, former Ivy League admissions officers, and Crimson alumni on a range of relevant admission topics. For more information, visit or



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Ciaran Maidwell

021 447 1082 / 072 693 9401

On behalf of:

Rebecca Pretorius, Country Manager for Crimson Education South Africa

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