Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:45 pm

Summer holidays can be very productive, especially if you have big dreams for tertiary education

Long summer holidays are the chief perk of being a school student – from December to January, South African learners have a chance to escape the structure of the school day. While it is important to take plenty of time to rest, recuperate and see friends, summer holidays can also be very productive, especially if one has big dreams for tertiary education.

“Competition for spots in university is heating up. Many dream campuses, such as those in the USA and UK, have average acceptance rates of under 6%,” says Rebecca Pretorius, Country Manager for university applications mentoring company Crimson Education.

According to Pretorius, success requires a carefully curated application – one that benefits hugely from summer holidays well spent. She offers some tips for high schoolers who want to one day work in the libraries of Oxford or labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):

Be involved

Create value and impact for the world by working for a social cause that you really care about. Go beyond just volunteering and strive to be involved in an organisational or managerial capacity.

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Get a job

On-the-job training and experience in a business, or the specific profession in which you are interested, is valuable. Aspire to be more than an observer or passive participant – get involved and take the initiative where you can.

Spearhead a project

Innovative leadership and entrepreneurship shine on an application. Think about launching a project or small business that showcases your creativity, leadership and organisational skills. Bear social impact and sustainability in mind – you want to create positive change that can continue while you are studying abroad.


Deepen your knowledge about one or two key subjects by researching them widely and signing up for online courses. You will need to demonstrate this knowledge in interviews and can boost an application by writing papers or applying this knowledge in projects during your high school years.

Crimson Education was founded in New Zealand in 2013 by two high schoolers, Jamie Beaton and South-African born Sharndre Kushor. Aged 23 and 24 respectively, they oversee the companies’ operations in 30 cities worldwide. Through a team mentorship model, Crimson Education learners are connected with career strategists and advisors based on their dream campuses, who help to find their best fit and navigate the complex applications process.