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How to use CAS to ace your university applications

How I used CAS to ace my university applications

A common misconception that I have encountered a plethora of times amongst IB students is that CAS is “useless”. What many fail to realize is that CAS can be utilized as a tool to boost your university applications, or at least that’s how I tackled it. It is for this very reason that I was able to acknowledge that CAS is far from useless. 

Though CAS should also be used to take your mind off your IB studies and to partake in an enjoyable activity, if you are a student who is very certain of a course you would like to study at university, CAS can be used to gain more knowledge and experience in your chosen field of study! For me, during the IB programme, I had quickly developed a deep interest in history, politics, and journalism and so it was relatively easy for me to tailor my CAS activities to my academic interests. 

Here are a few examples of how I tailored my CAS experiences to my interests and how they were relevant to my university applications!

Example 1 — IB council representative

Early on I took on the role as an IB council representative, with the responsibility of garnering concerns and interests within my IB class and taking them further with staff. Providing a voice for students is certainly something I strive for and so in doing this activity I not only felt proud of my progress, but I was also able to prove to universities of my forthcoming and helpful nature as a student. As an added bonus, it also counts as service under CAS!

Example 2 — Swedish Language Café

In my first year of IB, I started a Swedish Language Café along with a few of my classmates. This activity consisted of teaching Swedish on a voluntary basis to immigrant students at my school. My ability to collaborate with my colleagues and prepare learning content demonstrated my willingness to push myself as an individual. In that aspect, I could emphasize my leadership qualities in my university application by reflecting on my CAS creativity and service experience.

Example 3 — Writing

Writing is something that I am deeply passionate about. I love to gather my thoughts in the form of words. CAS gave me the opportunity to explore that passion a lot further. Another activity that I took up was signing up to join my school newspaper committee. Every Wednesday after my IB lessons, I would join the team in the IT room and delve into stories. There was a lot that went into the process of writing an article—looking for images, planning, writing, and proofreading. All of these steps led me to acquire skills that I could flaunt in my UCAS personal statement. Because not only was there more practical work but also the fact that I had to consistently stay informed about news on areas such as politics, something many of my university choices appreciated. 

My thrive for writing led me to start an online blog writing about a range of topics such as history, global affairs and lifestyle. It not only allowed me to express my thoughts in the form of words, but it also enabled me to show universities that my drive for history and politics prevailed outside of the classroom. From that stemmed more professional work, in the winter of 2020 I started writing articles for the Meridian Magazine, with most of my work pertaining to African history and politics. Hence I could use my experience of writing for the Meridian to showcase my interest in those areas. 

What does this mean for you?

Though these are just a few of the many activities that I took up during CAS in aims to both explore my passions and strengthen my university applications, the real question is how can you do the same? My advice would be to try and venture out with your CAS experiences. This means that instead of just doing CAS activities to fulfill your diploma requirements, tailor your CAS options to complement your academic interests. This will save you a lot of hassle when it comes to writing your university application and will highlight your appeal to the university. It is ultimately a win-win situation. 

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