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School: Juanita High School, Washington State, USA
Studied: Cambridge International AS & A Levels in Maths, Biology, English Literature and History; Cambridge International AS Levels in English Language and Global Perspectives & Research
Went on to: A computer science degree at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA
At Juanita High School, in Washington State, all Cambridge students take the same Cambridge International AS & A Level subjects – maths, biology, English literature, English language, history and Cambridge Global Perspectives & Research. It was an approach that Maggie Jiang welcomed: ‘When I started the programme I definitely did not know exactly what I wanted to study at university,’ she said, ‘so I’m grateful that the Cambridge approach provided both breadth and depth across a variety of subjects, allowing me to explore my interests. Through my Cambridge studies I became convinced that I wanted to pursue a STEM subject at university, as I greatly appreciated the maths and science courses.
‘I loved thinking logically and feeling as though I was discovering the fine details of how the world worked. Due to my amazing teachers, it was difficult to choose a university course because I genuinely enjoyed parts of every subject, but eventually I decided on computer science - a major that combines logic and creativity and which is relevant to every other area of study.’
As well as helping Maggie determine her academic strengths, the Cambridge programme also gave her a significant advantage in terms of college credit. ‘I applied to the University of Washington, in Seattle, and was awarded 45 credits for my Cambridge qualifications, the equivalent of a year’s studies,’ she said. ‘The University grants up to 15 credits for each Cambridge International A Level, and 7.5 for each AS Level, with a total cap of 45.’
My courses consistently pushed me to become a better thinker and learner, and gave me the opportunity to learn in depth. As a result, I’ve become a more motivated and ambitious student.
Maggie is now enjoying her time as an undergraduate: ‘I enjoy being at the University of Washington because the school is large and diverse, giving students the opportunity to meet many different people without feeling confined,’ she said. ‘You can find a community through a student organization as well as your academic major, which makes a huge school feel smaller. On-campus housing options provide freedom, independence, and convenience, and learning how to live on my own has been liberating. I also love feeling school spirit at sporting events, walking through the beautiful campus, and living in the city of Seattle — it's a very lively waterfront city, and there's always something to explore.’
Maggie also notes how the Cambridge programme has proved to be the ideal preparation for life at university: ‘I admit I have some pretty awful study habits, but my Cambridge studies helped me learn how to prioritise,’ she said. ‘Because of their rigour I have learned to think critically, to consider multiple perspectives and to problem solve effectively – all very useful as degree course content becomes more challenging. In addition, the knowledge I gained from the maths and English syllabuses meant that I was already comfortable with much of the content covered by the university’s introductory courses. These subjects also helped me grow as a writer and gave me valuable analysis skills, boosting my confidence and reducing my workload in the English composition courses.’
Now planning a career in software engineering, Maggie continues to recognise the benefits of the Cambridge programme. ‘My courses consistently pushed me to become a better thinker and learner, and gave me the opportunity to learn in depth,’ she said. ‘As a result, I’ve become a more motivated and ambitious student.’
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