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Edward Tranter achieved the highest score in the UK when he took Cambridge Pre-U Global Perspectives & Research (GPR) at Spalding Grammar School in June 2018, along with A Levels in law, ethics & philosophy, and history.
He is now studying in the United States, reading Philosophy at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania after winning a place there on a scholarship thanks to receiving significant help and guidance from the Sutton Trust US programme. We spoke to him in January 2019.
'Studying Cambridge Pre-U Global Perspectives & Research was an obvious choice for me.
'At school I always took subjects I was most interested in as a future profession, but I found the syllabuses didn’t allow much opportunity for independent research and creativity.
'Global Perspectives & Research enabled me to explore more than any of my other subjects and also helped me learn critical skills necessary for success at university. I was able to go beyond the high school education level and pursue what interested me at the time – philosophy.
'Writing the Research Report was a new challenge for me. I had never been faced with writing a 4000 word essay before; for the first time since I started school, I had total control over what I could write about. I found it difficult at first –applying what I had learnt during the first year of the course took some getting used to.
'In the past I had struggled with dedicating time to pursue my academic interests because of a busy schedule of extracurricular activities. Global Perspectives & Research enabled me to produce assignments in the subjects I loved that I was actually proud of. It was really enjoyable to develop critical thinking techniques and then refine them so that I could write an informative essay that friends and family could read.
'I was ecstatic to receive the award for achieving the highest national score. Global Perspectives & Research was my favourite qualification by far. Being rewarded for challenging myself was brilliant.
'I wanted to get the most experience out of my time at university, and so wanted to study in a foreign country. I’d been fascinated by the United States for many years so going to study there was a natural choice. I relished the academic freedom that Global Perspectives & Research had given me and didn’t want to settle on a specific subject (the normal practice of UK universities).
'Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania is a brilliant fit for me as I don’t have to finalise my degree subject until the end of my second year. That means I can explore subjects that had not been offered to me during high school.
'I really wanted to push myself during university and so opted for a college that would challenge me to become the most intelligent version of myself.
'I would recommend every secondary school student in the UK to consider stepping out of their comfort zone. Studying in a foreign country for five months has already provided me with invaluable skills. I returned home for Christmas, and friends said that my character has changed significantly and that I’m a lot more confident.
'I would encourage students to research foreign education systems and see if the different styles would suit their interests, and then look for the school of that type that would challenge them the most.
'I’m immensely glad I got the opportunity to cement my research skills, as I was able to hit the ground running at university and be successful with my first assignments.
'I transitioned to the higher level of research necessary for university projects far quicker than a lot of my friends did. I didn’t have to worry about my assignments as much and was also able to avoid the kind of imposter syndrome that is common among first year students. It’s extremely likely that if I hadn’t taken Global Perspectives & Research I would not have been proud of my first semester grades.'