July 1, 2024

From Kazakhstan to KAIST with a full-ride: highlights of my admission journey

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Aigerim from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

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From Kazakhstan to KAIST with a full-ride: highlights of my admission journey

My background

Hi, my name is Aigerim, and I am 18 years old. I am a senior student at Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS), located in Kazakhstan. I come from an ordinary Kazakh family with a traditional background and many family values. Currently, I am planning to pursue bioengineering or chemistry as my major.

I got into NYU Abu Dhabi and KAIST with full rides, but this story will be about KAIST as it's less covered.

Why I decided to study abroad + especially KAIST

My perspective on higher education has changed drastically since the beginning of seventh grade. Before entering high school, I didn't even think about going overseas. However, many NIS graduates were going to top universities with financial aid, which inevitably aroused my interest in studying abroad. If they could do it, what's stopping me from doing the same? I wanted to bring new technologies, advancements, and the best education offered by top universities worldwide to my home country. The surroundings and connections made when studying abroad are also worth mentioning. Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures and exchanging worldviews is truly beneficial.

In particular, I chose KAIST in Korea because I knew that many top students from my country and school who succeeded in olympiads and research went there. The environment of rigorous studying and constant self-improvement they created left a mark on me, growing my passion for studying at the most prestigious school in Korea year by year. My thirst for knowledge and education dismissed all the difficulties. I firmly believed that KAIST was my best choice, which is why it was the only Asian university I applied to.

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Stats & SAT Prep

  • GPA: 5.0

  • IELTS: 8.0

  • SAT: 1550

I would like to share a short checklist on how to prepare for the SAT:

  • After completing practice tests on Bluebook, don’t forget to analyze your progress. I had a separate notebook, where I used to write the kinds of mistakes I made, the tips I needed to follow next time, etc.

  • There are many useful compilations of the most common words in SAT, especially in Quizlet. Learn, repeat, and ace the vocabulary questions in the test! Additionally, you can have a look at “Most common roots, prefixes, suffixes” to effectively guess the meaning of unknown words.

  • Khan Academy is your №1 tool.

  • Erica Meltzer’s books are great for both writing and reading, while College Panda is helpful for the math part.

  • Try to improve your reading comprehension by learning many genres such as fiction, historical texts, scientific articles, and so on.

Extracurricular activities

The first thing I would love to share is my very own recipe book! I have been very passionate about baking since childhood, so writing and publishing a recipe book was a dream come true. It has already been published on websites like Amazon KDP. Organizing baking classes for children from unprivileged backgrounds was the next logical step in sharing my passion with others. Seeing the joyous faces of the children was very important and exciting for me.

Moving on to more academically focused activities, I participated in research on water desalination plants. This project draws inspiration from the enigmatic Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Subsequently, I collaborated on launching a startup to address water scarcity by building desalination plants in the western part of Kazakhstan. My team raised funds and gained recognition from the Ministry of Science and Education in Kazakhstan as one of the best projects presented in an international competition.

By the way, I was the head of the Ministry of Science and Education, though not that of a country, but of our school. This activity allowed me to combine my passion for science with solving social issues in our school. The main thing we engaged in was publishing a guideline on preparing for the Olympiad and doing research work. Additionally, we coordinated an English volunteer project, teaching English to students from village schools with over 120 volunteers participating. Because of my contributions to education in our school, I was selected as one of three representatives to meet the Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The financial aid system at KAIST is quite different from the US or Canadian school systems. The Office of Financial Aid does not consider family income and other factors, as the amount of scholarships is the same for everyone regardless of their financial situation. These scholarships cover tuition, medical insurance, and monthly allowance.

More about KAIST Scholarships: https://www.kaist.ac.kr/en/html/edu/03100502.html

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Difference between Korean schools & US schools

When applying to colleges or universities in different areas and countries, it is crucial to consider the values each institution embraces. For example, when preparing my application, I knew that KAIST highly values academic achievements and activities, such as academic background, specific interests, and scientific research skills. On the other hand, my experience with applying to NYU, an American school, was significantly different. Here, the key is to be outstanding and unique. Therefore, I demonstrated myself differently by showing my interests, such as my passion for baking, which I genuinely enjoyed as a hobby. This approach set me apart from conventional applications full of internships, volunteering, and research projects. In summary, the main difference was that KAIST was more academically centered, whereas NYU was more focused on personal interests and values. My final advice is always to consider what aspect you should highlight when applying to different schools aligning with their core values. This strategy will make you an outstanding, unique, and exceptional candidate!

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from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Duration of Study

Sep 2024 — May 2028



Learn more ->
KAIST - Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology

KAIST - Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology

Daejeon, South Korea🇰🇷


✍️ Interview by

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Clara from Canada 🇨🇦

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