Securing a place at Harvard, Stanford or Oxford is extremely tough. Securing a place from South Africa, even tougher.
A new organisation has set up shop in South Africa to help local learners get into the world’s top universities.
Crimson Education was founded by the New Zealander Jamie Beaton and South African-born Sharndre Kushor in 2013. As a high school student in Auckland, Beaton applied to the world's top 25 universities. He was accepted into all of them, and chose to study at Harvard University. He graduated with a double-degree in mathematics-economics and applied math.
He saw a gap in the market to support other ambitious learners from across the world to gain access to top universities. Together with Kushor, a UNICEF Youth Ambassador, they started an organisation that can help mentor high schoolers for acceptance into universities in the US and the UK. The business grew quickly – it is reportedly now worth $160 million, and present in 15 countries.
The company has helped to secure more than 460 offers to top universities and R545 million in scholarships.
It recently started its South African operations under the leadership of Duncan Parsons, a New Zealand student at Duke University, who is currently on an exchange programme in South Africa. Parsons was also admitted to Harvard and Stanford, and received a scholarship to go to Duke.
Parson’s advice for South African learners who want to get into the world’s top universities is twofold:
Parsons says that, especially for US colleges, an outstanding academic record isn’t all that counts. “It’s about who you are –whether you are a well-rounded person who can make an impact outside the classroom.”
South African students have a good reputation among leading universities, he added. “They are usually do-ers, who take initiative and tend to be are entrepreneurial.”
“SA applicants are attractive because they bring a different perspective and cultural background to the universities.”
Crimson’s support programme works as follows: